Hotel conversions in historic buildings are always challenging projects, representing a perfect storm of difficulties for operators and developers. With a record of delivering high-quality and complex projects, Mace took up the challenge for Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts’ to deliver its first hotel in Europe – Palais de Bonaparte in Paris. Located opposite the Eiffel Tower, the 5-star hotel, which was once the private palace of Napoleon Bonaparte’s grandnephew, includes 81 rooms, fine dining restaurants, a fitness centre, swimming pool and 800 square metres of private gardens.
Mace’s experience of working in France was invaluable to Shangri-La, as was its team of bi-lingual project and design managers. This team helped overcome the cultural challenges of reconciling Far-East practices with French design, and also provided a thorough knowledge of the local market. Following an intensive phase of underpinnings to add two levels of basements, the renovation and decoration works included sensitive remodelling of 18 function and reception rooms, and the creation of entirely new spaces, such as the Banquet Hall. A significant challenge of the project was that the building had never been used as a hotel before and its internal configuration was that of a palace. As a result, no two rooms are identical. The conservation of some historical rooms (including ceiling features) also meant that the design of heating, cooling and ventilation had to be re-visited to maintain integrity. The renovation works to transform the space into a five-star hotel took nearly three years, with a design team led by experienced architect Richard Martinet and interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon.