Representatives of the Monaco Government Tourist and Convention Authority, in association with Atout France, hosted 40 travel professionals for dinner at the Shangri-La Hotel in Vancouver last week on the final stop of their Canadian roadshow. It was the first time the world’s second-smallest country (after Vatican City) has hosted a travel trade event in the city.
Key to the evening’s messaging was that, yes, Monaco is an enclave for the rich and famous, but regular people are welcome, too – and can afford to visit.
Eighty per cent of the principality’s 2,500 hotel rooms are found in four- or five-star properties, said Laurence Aquilina, sales and marketing manager for the Monaco Government Tourist and Convention Authority, but “it’s incredible – we also have three-star hotels. Did you know that?”
Iconic luxury properties include the Hôtel de Paris, “the place to be seen,” and the Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo, “the place to stay,” Aquilina said, as well as the great-for-families Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel and Resort and the Fairmont Monte Carlo, which is perched over the sea, “like being on a cruise ship.” The Hôtel Metropole Monte-Carlo recently announced it will open the world’s third Givenchy Spa in February.
Three-star hotels include the Novotel Monte Carlo and the boutique Columbus Monte-Carlo, which faces the Princess Grace Rose Garden.
Touting Monaco as “the country with the highest Michelin star rating per square foot,” and home of the world’s first Michelin-starred organic restaurant (Chef Paolo Sari’s L’Elsa), Aquilina highlighted the range of dining options, from the ultra-high-end to the casual, noting a growing range of options for vegetarians, vegans and those who eat gluten-free.
Most visitors arrive in Monaco by rail or road from France (“Don’t be afraid,” said Guy Antognelli, deputy general manager of the Monaco Government Tourist and Convention Authority, “it’s not mandatory to come in a Ferrari.”). It takes about 35 minutes to drive from the closest international airport, located 30 kilometres away in Nice, or three hours by train from Paris.
But the “James Bond–style” way to arrive is by helicopter transfer, a seven-minute ride from Nice Côte d'Azur Airport.
Maria Tuttocuore of the Monaco Government Tourist Office in New York encouraged agents with guests interested in the helicopter option to consider Le Club Diamant Rouge de Monaco – the preferred travel club of the Monaco Government Tourist Office in North America, which has been in place since 1994 but only recently became available to tourists, offered exclusively through travel professionals.
The program includes the helicopter transfer and complimentary admission to Monaco’s museums and attractions for $85 with a minimum three-night stay at a participating hotel. Interested agents must register at least 14 days in advance of their clients’ departure.
For more information, go to visitmonaco.com.