Like many Savoy junkies, I awaited her return with bated breath, praying that the multi-million pound restoration would not take away her soul. I returned on opening day to be the first person to eat in The River Restaurant and was awed by the cleverness of her new look – she was still the same Savoy, she was just wearing a couture frock.
This was way back in October – a lifetime away now in our busy lives – but it’s got me thinking about what The Savoy means to me. Like many Londoners, I take ownership of the hotel – it’s not just any old property – it’s my hotel – I probably feel this more than most as the start of my career in the hotel business was bound up with The Savoy.
I worked for a company called The Leading Hotels of the World and it was formed in New York by The Savoy and other grande dame European hotels back in 1928 to look after a rich American clientele that came over to Europe for “the season”.
Working very closely with The Savoy during my time at Leading Hotels, I look back now at this period as my “finishing school”, teaching a kid from the South Coast about luxury, service and the skills involved in the promotion of five-star hotels. During this time, I helped the in-house PR team with The Savoy’s centennial (I still have a bottle of centennial champagne unopened but much prized).
On leaving Leading Hotels to join an agency, I subsequently worked with The Savoy once more to promote a multi-million renovation programme under legendary hotelier, Ramon Pajares – coordinating a global campaign with PR friends worldwide.
I then lost touch with The Savoy – she changed owners again but this time, landed on her feet when they decided to invest heavily in her, spending over GBP220 million over a three year period. Truth be told, she did look a tad dowdy and down at heel before this last restoration – she needed a makeover.
So in the way of things as I now understand them, with my own agency, Magellan PR, the world turned on its axis and once again, I was back in the game – this time with client Fairmont Hotels & Resorts and indirectly working with The Savoy’s in-house PR and marketing teams behind the scenes.
The hotel’s illustrious history is retold in The Savoy Museum and is reflected in the decor of the nine personality suites which pay homage to Charlie Chaplin, Marlene Dietrich, Frank Sinatra and of course, to Claude Monet. Room styles are split between Art Deco and Edwardian (the latter is my personal favourite). There’s now a Savoy Boutique selling handmade chocolates and goodies (my favourite is the chocolate Kaspar the Cat) and one of the property’s biggest design successes, the super sexy Beaufort Bar which has that slight touch of lounge lizard you need to make it work. These of course are the headline stories but my own memories of The Savoy are no less precious and special to me and my life has changed for the better because of my lifelong involvement with her. I carry these memories with me every day – my history at my Savoy.
I hope I don’t lose touch with this London gem again – it’s extremely comforting to see her back again and looking so stylish: a reassuring and gracious presence in my ever-changing world.
Contributor: Sue Lowry
For more information: www.fairmont.com/savoy
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts corporately is a client of Magellan PR and The Savoy is one of the group’s 60+ hotels worldwide.