Luxury travelers are looking for authenticity above all… five-star version, and Montreal seems to have all the assets to attract this high-end clientele.
Montreal is an accessible luxury destination. It’s not New York, Paris or Rome, but the luxury clientele likes to discover new destinations, and Montreal seems to attract, especially with its festivals and its gastronomy. Even the Washington Post recently advised its readers to visit Montreal rather than New York, praising the city’s unique neighborhoods, such as Little Italy or the Plateau, and Mount Royal Park, our “Central Park”. .
Yves Lalumière, CEO of Tourisme Montreal, believes there should be no resorts, as luxury tourists love Montreal for its diverse offering. “You have to live it to believe it [Tourism Montreal slogan]; people don’t visit Montreal, they live in Montreal. We are not an ultra-luxury city like Paris or London, but our gastronomy is renowned, as are our festivals, circuses and parks. Luxury cruises want to stop in Montreal because we have a way of life that attracts tourists,” he says.
But what are our high-end tourists doing in Montreal? They stay a few nights at the Ritz-Carlton, the Four Seasons, Mount Stephen or the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth. They have dinner at Vin Mon Lapin, Maison Boulud, Toqué!, Joe Beef, Monarque, Europea. They spend the evening at Cirque du Soleil, enjoy a show at the Jazz Festival or go to the Bell Center to see a Canadiens game. They love to walk the streets of Old Montreal, and will even take a BIXI to the Mile End to taste our famous bagels, not to mention the walk to the top of Mount Royal.
“Montreal is considered a European city in North America, so there’s a curiosity about French-speaking culture and Montreal’s history,” said Katia Piccolino, director of marketing at the Ritz-Carlton, in an interview. “Our clients, the vast majority of whom are Americans, also explore the surrounding area, which is one of the great advantages of Montreal, because everything is nearby. Being a four-season destination is also an advantage. For example, our visitors will go skiing at Mont Tremblant for the day, snowmobiling or dog sledding. This is what makes us offer a unique experience. »
Matthew D. Upchurch, president of Virtuoso, a global luxury tourism network, thinks highly of Montreal. “The value for money here is unbeatable. There is this je-ne-sais-quoi in Montreal that makes you come back delighted with your stay. There is this vibe and our customers who are curious love your hospitality. Montreal offers something different in the North American market,” he says. He finds that demand for luxury tourism is growing, and that industry forecasts show that international travel is returning to pre-pandemic levels, and even will be higher for luxury tourism.
Dimitar Stoyanov has been a concierge at the Four Seasons in Montreal since the hotel opened in April 2019. He worked as a butler in Paris at the Hôtel de Crillon for 13 years, one of the Parisian palaces where billionaires who come from Saudi Arabia, Dubai and, before the war, Russia. The difference between Montreal and Paris? “The Grand Prix clientele in Montreal is three days a year, while at the Hôtel de Crillon, it’s all year round. These billionaires are spending a lot of money, and they want it all right away,” he says.
In Montreal, he finds that tourists who stay at the Four Seasons are well-informed and have made reservations at the best restaurants in town before arriving. “They also want to try neighborhood restaurants like Le Chien Fumant on the Plateau, Ayla in Griffintown or Le Pied de Cochon. They want to experience Montreal like Montrealers! During the summer, I organize historical private tours in Old Montreal, there are also cooking classes with Jérôme Ferrer, some take advantage of a day in the Eastern Townships to take a visit to The vineyards. I have already privatized the Notre-Dame basilica for two clients who went to see Aura, the light show,” he confides.
To showcase our city, Tourisme Montréal presents polished photos representing the diversity that the metropolis offers to tourists from all over the world. “Summer will be spectacular. The luxury clientele comes from all over the world provided there is a direct flight, whether from Paris, London, Dubai, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, explains Yves Lalumière. The French market is 100 flights per week in Montreal, and the American clientele is 60,000 seats per week; 550 flights a day in total for Montreal is huge,” he says.
Are our tourists dazzled by the beauty of Old Montreal to the point of not seeing the orange cones? The CEO of Tourisme Montréal recognizes that traffic flow needs to be improved and that mobility is an issue. What about cleanliness? “There is always room for improvement, there is a lot of investment and work, there is also a collective effort to be made as citizens. »
“When guests stay for two or three days, they don’t see the orange cones, but when they stay for five or six days and move around town and out, that’s when they realize there’s has a lot of work and sometimes it’s hard to get from one place to another,” says Dimitar Stoyanov, concierge at the Four Seasons in Montreal.
Top destinations for affluent Canadians, according to global luxury travel network Virtuoso? United States, France, Italy, United Kingdom, Costa Rica, Barbados, Anguilla, Turks and Caicos Islands, Mexico and Indonesia. Among the growing destinations are Thailand, Japan, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.