The story appears on

Page B3

December 1, 2011

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature » iDEAL

'This is just the beginning'

STILL involved in a tremendously successful business at age 79, Gerard Pelisson, co-founder of the largest European hotel chain Accor, could afford to take it easy.

But relaxation - the product offered by his hotels - is not his thing.

Last week, the legendary hotelier paid a whirlwind three-day trip to Shanghai and Beijing.

Within 24 hours of landing in Shanghai, he inspected a training restaurant at the former site of the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, visited a business park where dozens of medium- and small-sized French businesses are operating, met key members of an association representing French citizens abroad, and attended a charity party where he bid on a traditional Chinese ink-wash painting.

"I do not travel much these days, but for Shanghai, I have important reasons to visit," the Frenchman said.

After 30 years at the helm, Pelisson stepped down from his presidency in 1997 but stayed on as Accor's cochairman and continues to act as the group's ambassador around the world. Accor operates more than 4,000 hotels worldwide.

Promoting Accor's business development is still top on his agenda.

"I have good expectations," he said. Accor operates 110 hotels in China and plans to open more. Its hotels worldwide expect more Chinese travelers.

Accor signed its first management agreement in China in 1985. In 1992, Accor opened its first Sofitel in China, the Sofitel Hyland Shanghai on Nanjing Road Pedestrian Mall. Pelisson's portrait hangs in the lobby.

The hotelier from Lyon says he typically "lives at 100 miles per hour" and likes to "get up early and go to bed late, and be active in between."

Today, he is president of one of the world's best-known gourmet cooking and hotel schools and chairman of the Union des Francais de I'Etranger (UFE, Union of French Citizens Abroad) - two roles that brought him to Shanghai.

The school, the Institute Paul Bocuse, has admitted an increasing number of Chinese students and opened a branch in Shanghai with Le Restaurant Ecole Institut Paul Bocuse, on the fourth floor of the Rhone-Alps Pavilion with a sweeping Huangpu River view. Six French chefs work in the kitchen, tutoring Chinese apprentices.

"Excellent, the food there is excellent," Pelisson says. "Chinese young people are very good students. They can be trained to be excellent professionals."

Visiting Dpark, business hub in Yangpu District, he spoke with French entrepreneurs working in the park and met with UFE members.

Pelisson is optimistic about the growth in the travel and hospitality business, despite the global economic slowdown.

He noted that the number of travelers worldwide is increasing and said travel typically accounts for 9-10 percent of a nation's economy.

Asked to sum up the reason for Accor's success, the word he mentioned most was "people."

"All the hotels these days have the same technical facilities, what makes the difference is the soft aspect," he explains. "The first priority is training the people, particularly the general managers."

Within three decades, Accor grew from a 60-room hotel built on a shoestring budget to an empire that now employes more than 120,000 people.

"I have a motto," he told a luncheon audience. "Waking up every January 1, I say to myself, 'This is just the beginning'."


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend