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PRESENTED BY ESSEC BUSINESS SCHOOL

‘It really feels like a dream come true’: working in a Paris palace hotel

"It's a huge source of pride for me to work at a Parisian palace hotel," says Amel Ziani-Orus. The Director of Talent and Culture at the 5-star Le Meurice has hotels in her blood. “I moved with my family from Algeria to France when I was 18. My parents owned a boutique hotel.”

'It really feels like a dream come true': working in a Paris palace hotel
Photo: Amel Ziani-Orus at Le Meurice, Paris
Amel says she did not always plan to go into hotel work herself and first worked in project management. But eventually she changed course to study for an MSc in Hospitality Management at ESSEC Business SchoolNow, she is the head of HR at one of France’s most luxurious and prestigious hotels – and one with an integral place in Parisian society and culture. 
 
“Thinking of my ambitions during the time I spent at ESSEC, it really feels like a dream come true to be working here now,” she says. “I’m very happy.”
 
Here, The Local kicks off a series of articles on the theme of #MyParisianLife by speaking to her about the joy of working in such a place and how she got there.
 
Luxury and a rare artistic history
 
“Le Meurice is one of the first ‘palace hotels’,” she says. “This is a unique designation to France. It means beyond five stars, and describes a hotel with the highest standards of service.“
 
Opening its current location in 1835, Le Meurice is the oldest Paris hotel awarded the palace distinction and has hosted many luminaries. “It was the hotel used by European royalty, but perhaps our most famous guest was Salvador Dalí.”
 
The surrealist painter was a frequent guest, staying at the hotel for one month every Spring for 30 years. Pablo Picasso also hosted his wedding lunch at the hotel in 1918, and to this day the hotel has a close association with art. 
 
 
Amel Ziani-Orus at Le Meurice, the hotel bar, and a glimpse of its luxury interiors. Photos by Jesse Wallace for The Local.
 

Masked employees at Le Meurice during the pandemic and the hotel’s lobby (bottom left). Photos by Jesse Wallace for The Local.
 
“For the last 20 years, the hotel has had a prize for contemporary artists,” Amel tells us. The winning artist receives a grant of €10,000, with another €10,000 for the gallery involved in the project. The luxurious interiors of the hotel are filled with previous prize winners, making it a highly desirable location for magazine photography shoots. 
 
It’s not just art that Le Meurice is famous for, however. Amel is also very proud of the hospitality offered – in particular the gourmet cuisine. “Cédric Grolet, one of the greatest pastry chefs in the world, has a patisserie at the hotel – La Pâtisserie du Meurice par Cédric Grolet”.
 
The award-winning pastries and cakes on offer are a major drawcard for the hotel. Indeed, even during the Covid-19 pandemic, the patisserie remains open, with Parisians flocking for their daily fix of Grolet’s amazing creations. Despite the pandemic, hotels and luxury establishments continue to survive. “There are of course challenges, but we’re able to overcome them,” says Amel. 
 
The value of problem-solving networks
 
So how did she find herself in such an esteemed role? “I did my MSc in Hotel Management at ESSEC!” One of the ‘trois Parisiennes’ of management schools, the École Supérieure des Sciences Economiques et Commerciales has been producing some of the world’s most celebrated hoteliers since 1907. 
 

Ornate interiors, high ceilings, and works of art at Paris’s original palace hotel Le Meurice. Photos by Jesse Wallace for The Local.
 
The hotel offers modern design and comforts, as well as tradition. Photos by Jesse Wallace for The Local.
 
The school’s vintage – in operation for over a century – doesn’t stop it from offering a top-class education for the digital age. “One of the greatest things the school gave me was the ability to use modern software tools to help operate the hotel,” says Amel. “Many hoteliers underestimate its importance, but it makes a huge difference.”
 
It’s not just the application of modern technology that distinguishes ESSEC from other management schools. Amel credits ESSEC’s alumni networks and expert teachers as being hugely useful even today.
 
“I can still ask questions of the networks that I made while at ESSEC if I have a problem that needs solving. I can also contact my teachers for their point of view. ESSEC also organises student visits, so students can see how a luxury hotel works from the inside”. 
 
From her beginnings working in her parents’ boutique hotel, Amel now finds herself at the top of her profession – and able to enjoy some of the most enviable views in the world. “One of my favourite places is the Belle Etoile Suite terrace of the hotel, with amazing views across the iconic Paris cityscape, towards the Eiffel Tower,” she says. 
 
Studying hotel management has taken Amel from a family business to the penthouse suite of one of the world’s premiere luxury hotels. As she tells us: “ESSEC was a huge step for me in order to get where I am today.”
 
Want to pursue your own Parisian dream? Find out more about ESSEC’s MSc in Hospitality Management and get in touch with a current student of the programme.
 
Click through the slideshow below to see the full range of photos we captured at Le Meurice #MyParisianLife.

All photos by Jesse Wallace for The Local.

EDUCATION

Why ETH Zurich has been ranked the ‘best university in continental Europe’

A new international survey of universities has ranked Zurich’s Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) the highest in the world outside the US and the UK. How does this school excel?

Why ETH Zurich has been ranked the 'best university in continental Europe'
ETH's main hall. Photo by Zurich.ch

The Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2022 have placed ETH in the 15th place (out of 1,600 surveyed worldwide). The school dropped from the 14th-place ranking the previous year.

Universities in the United Kingdom and the United States hold all of the top rankings ahead of ETH Zurich.

But as the top 14 are not in continental Europe, this means ETH has the unofficial title of the of best in Europe.

What is ETH and what does it do?

It is a public research university focusing exclusively on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics

It has a “sister” school located in Lausanne, the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), which specialises in natural sciences and engineering. 

The EPFL ranked in the 40th place in the survey.

Why has ETH scored so high in the study?

“Our strategy is derived from our federal mandate to conduct fundamental research, train specialists and transfer new knowledge to the economy and society,” said ETH President Joël Mesot.

University ranking methodology is based on scores for high-​level indicators relating to teaching, research, international perspective, and collaboration with industry.

“ETH’s overall scores show improvement in teaching, research, and publication citations”, the university’s rankings expert Paul Cross said.

However, it dropped slightly in terms of industry income and international outlook.

“Competition is fierce at the top tier of the rankings”, Cross noted. 

Here are some interesting facts about ETH:

  • It was founded in 1855 by the Swiss government to train engineers and scientists.
  • Today 18,000 students from over 100 different countries study at ETZ, 3,800 of whom are doctoral students.
  • So far, 21 Nobel Prizes have been awarded to researchers who have or had a connection with ETH Zurich.
  • While tuition in the top-ranking schools in the UK — Oxford and Cambridge — costs well over 10,000 francs each year, and in the in the US universities, such as Yale, Harvard, Stanford and Caltech, the annual tuition exceeds 50,000 a year, at ETH it is 1,460 francs.

In all, Switzerland is home to seven of the world’s top universities. Aside from ETH and EPFL, they are University of Zurich (75th place), University of Bern (101st), Universities of Basel and Geneva (103rd), University of Lausanne (176th).

Complete ranking can be seen here.

READ MORE: Why Switzerland leads the world in innovation (Partner content)

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