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SO/ SETS A EUROPEAN COURSE WITH STEFAN VIARD (France)

General Manager of SO/ Paris since its opening in September 2022, Stefan Viard has been appointed Regional Manager Europe of Ennismore's lifestyle brand with the ambition of anchoring it in the hotel landscape and developing its resolutely young and fashion-oriented identity.

SO/ SETS A EUROPEAN COURSE WITH STEFAN VIARD (France)

General Manager of SO/ Paris since its opening in September 2022, Stefan Viard has been appointed Regional Manager Europe of Ennismore's lifestyle brand with the ambition of anchoring it in the hotel landscape and developing its resolutely young and fashion-oriented identity.

Category: Europe - France - Careers - Appointments
Article written by Christopher Buet on 2023-09-12


Portrait Stefan Viard

Appointed to head up SO/ Paris in September 2022, Stefan Viard has been appointed Regional Manager of the SO/ brand by Ennismore.
Photo credit © SO/ Paris

In a hotel landscape in constant turmoil, where projects abound just as much as brands and destinations, there is always a place for those who know how to position themselves and offer a new vision of hospitality. It's the kind of originality that, combined with the right location at the right time, makes it possible to stand out from the crowd and emerge from the fierce competition. In summer 2022, Ennismore unveiled SO/ Paris in the former Cité Administrative de Paris and the Direction de l'Urbanisme, on the edge of the Marais and Bastille districts.

A new guideline

One year on, the 16-storey hotel, which dominates the Seine like a lighthouse with an uninterrupted view of the Notre-Dame construction site and the whole of Paris, has found its cruising speed under the leadership of Stefan Viard. This success has convinced Ennismore to promote the Managing Director, who will be promoted to Regional Manager Europe in April 2023.

This new role brings with it new responsibilities and a desire on the part of the Group to relaunch a brand created 12 years ago and acquired from the Accor portfolio, by positioning it as a new standard of luxury lifestyle, based around art and fashion.

"In our luxury lifestyle segment, we found that there were some brands that were very close to what the old SO/ was when it was launched, so we decided to adapt. I think we did an update and I would say a little fine tuning to elevate the positioning of the brand, and move from vibrant cool to luxury chic. We've moved upmarket in terms of services, staff..." says Stefan Viard, sitting on a sofa in the heart of the SO/Paris lobby, with its characteristic columns splayed out towards the sky. As if to illustrate this change of direction, to his left is a Le Printemps pop-up. Fashion is invading the very heart of the hotel.

"At the time of the change, we were fortunate that the hotel had not yet opened, so with the teams at head office, we created this new brand identity for So/. We were the first hotel to be launched with the new graphic charter, for example. We reviewed certain standards that were perhaps not up-to-date", he explains in perfect French, with a slight Germanic accent. Right down to the employee changing rooms, redesigned by French designer Guillaume Henry and the Patou fashion house. It's a work on form, but also on content that he is responsible for passing on.

"Offer a similar experience in all our hotels"

Indeed, Stefan Viard is no longer just the captain of the Parisian ship, but the man who must guide the European fleet in a common direction. "The idea is, with the day-to-day business know-how in the hotel industry, to be able to assist my colleagues in Vienna, Berlin and St Petersburg, share problems, align standards to some extent and work on adapting the local touch that is so important for the brand in its various destinations", he says.

It's a course he's already working hard to maintain. As soon as he took up his new post, the man who spent a decade working in the United Arab Emirates got in touch with his counterparts in Vienna, Berlin and St Petersburg to find out where everyone stood, what their expectations were and how they should operate, even going on site for the first two.

The results are already noticeable, as in Austria the website has been redesigned and the entire social media policy is undergoing change. "The priority for me is to create a team spirit and then 'sky is the limit'," says this benevolent team leader. "We have a lot of work to do because we are a fairly young brand, so we have to review all our standards to offer a similar experience in all our hotels. Do we offer a welcome cocktail, what type of breakfast, do we distribute welcome amenities... We discuss this with my colleagues. I share what we do (in Paris), they tell me what they have in place and we decide what we want for the brand".

Grow, but not just any old way

It's a wide-ranging and exciting process, connecting entities whose character needs to be preserved while adopting the new identity of the brand they represent. This is the first step in the SO/ process, which is destined to continue growing.

While the SO/ Dubai has already opened its doors and the SO/ Maldives will do the same in November, other projects are in the pipeline, particularly in Europe. "There are several projects under discussion in Europe, including one that should be signed soon, but it's still confidential. The idea is to expand the brand's portfolio, but in the right place and in connection with what we want to do in terms of architecture, art, fashion and design", he agrees, without saying more.

A destination that won't be London, or Milan, the capital of Italian fashion. "In terms of fashion, I wouldn't say that having a hotel in Milan would be a dream, but it would be extraordinary. SO/London doesn't exist, but it would be nice one day. These are very complicated markets to enter. We have a good development team. If there's the right opportunity, they'll do it. As far as I know, we don't yet have the right project in the cities mentioned", explains Stefan Viard.

While waiting for the projects to materialise, the CEO will concentrate on what he has mastered and will seek to make SO/ a coherent and attractive brand on a continental scale by building on its strengths in a relaxed but demanding spirit, allowing himself to innovate in small ways to create a different experience that is in tune with the times.

More about...
SO/ Paris
10 Rue Agrippa d'Aubignť
75004 Paris
France
Groupe : SO/ Hotels & Resorts
Number of rooms and suites: 162
Website
https://www.facebook.com/soparishotel  https://www.instagram.com/soparishotel  https://www.linkedin.com/company/so-paris-hotel  




About the author

A journalist with many skills and an ever curious traveller, Christopher has a great attraction for carefully refined hotels, where characterful gastronomy, impeccable service and sincere elegance go hand in hand. A discreet and gourmet pen at the service of a certain idea of luxury.


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