Sophie According to her Friends: Franka Holtmann, General Manager of Le Meurice (Paris)
Sophie invites us backstage into her private life, allowing her mentors, friends and colleagues to describe her. To kick off this series, Franka Holtmann—the queen of Parisian hospitality—opens up about her relationship with the sparkling CEO of the Valmont Group.
A preeminent member of Paris’ ultra-exclusive “Palace” hotels, Le Meurice has, for over a decade, featured an impressive collaboration with the Valmont Group. This partnership manifests every day through their SPA, but also through several joint projects: pop-up stores, cocktail hours and press launches set the tempo for their shared success. Franka Holtmann, General Manager of Le Meurice, tells us how she got involved with the group and how she was swept up by a family, a vision and a person: Sophie Guillon.
How did you first hear about Valmont?
It was through a conversation with a friend who runs a luxury establishment in Courchevel. She was raving about these products, which I had never heard about before even though I am an avowed “cosmetic freak.” So Séverine, my friend, invited me to a beauty treatment at the Spa. I was immediately sold! You know the rest: this prestigious brand made its début at the Spa du Meurice, and I thank God every day it did.
In 2020 we will open “La Maison Valmont” in the heart of the hotel, which will become the emissary boutique for all the savoir-faire of the Group, as well as their flagship store in Paris.
How did you and Sophie meet?
During the talks between Valmont and Le Meurice. At the beginning, it was purely a professional relationship, but we discovered very quickly that we had a lot in common. Unfortunately, her schedule is always jam-packed, so I only ever see her on whirlwind visits. But we’re on the same wavelength and, since Sophie is quite funny, she always says the right thing to make me laugh. She has a great sense of humor with a good dose of self-deprecation. I love it!
« We’re two people who always honor our word »
What do you have in common when it comes to running a business?
Because we both have German/Swiss roots, we share a sense of duty, a word of honor and a thorough approach. We’re curious, never take anything for granted and act with conviction. It’s crucial for us to honor the heritage of our respective brands while staying a step ahead of the market.
How would you describe her in a few words?
Passionate, hard-working and committed. But it’s her agility above all that makes our collaboration so fruitful. Everything is always possible with her. I don’t know how she does it!
Have you ever gone to her directly for advice?
Of course! I’ve even gone so far as to compare hers with other brands, all of which she knows inside and out, and treats with impartial and very fair judgment. I think the product development process she leads is impressive. She really masters the subject, heading the research, conception and communication processes all at once. It is clear that she’s attentive to what women want, and has a proven good taste.
Which Valmont Group products do you use in your day-to-day?
I alternate between L’Elixir des Glaciers eye cream and V-Shape Filling Eye Balm. They plump up and hydrate the skin, lending a real feeling of comfort. I listen to Sophie’s advice, which I always find fresh and exciting. I have absolute trust in her.
« We really have a lot in common »
Do you share the same taste in art?
I would say yes, because her and Didier take a lot of inspiration from art. In fact, Didier created the Fondation Valmont, where he hand-picks artists from diverse disciplines. Art is a common thread that runs through all their spaces. It’s what makes them so unique. I’ve never seen it anywhere else, and I really identify with their approach.
That’s actually another thing we have in common—we have a lot, it seems!—because we, too, created a sponsorship program for contemporary art with the Prix Meurice in 2008.
Le Meurice and Valmont: a story of… Success? Family businesses? Friendship?
A story already more than a decade in the making, founded on the will to innovate and evolve in response to our client’s ever-changing expectations.
A story of sharing, since we have the same way of looking at things, and the drive to always improve by learning from our mistakes.
A story of friendship, where we are always ready to lend an ear, compromise, all while keeping our sights trained on delivering results we can be proud of and which demonstrate our values— like any self-respecting family business.