We put all our heart to make our rooms exceptional.
To receive you is our passion, we invite you to discover it.
Cécile et Stéphane RIVES
1- Where do we come from?
1-1 Cécile and Stéphane, a solid union:
Cecile: It all started when we were only 15 years old. I have always loved meeting people and their customs, traveling. Very early, therefore, we worked in the summer at the institution of Saint Tropez uncle and aunt Stéphane. We made our first steps there: welcoming customers, checking every little detail, anticipating needs and meeting everyone's expectations.
Stéphane: In good audois, I am passionate about the vine and the wine. I learned patience from my grandparents who taught me the terroir. Rather clever of my hands, I do not hesitate to roll up my sleeves and put the hand in the dough. Concerned about a job well done, I demand almost as much from my staff as from myself. This was the case during the construction sites of the building that I could drive from an early age.
1-2 First the family:
Stéphane: The family is our leitmotif. We always involve our children in our decisions. The older ones, Louis (2001) and Édouard (2002) quickly learned the building sites. Mathilde (born in 2006) and Adèle (2007), are always consulted in decoration.
Cecile: We always have children first. Colomban (2011), always smiling, comes to gratify the customers of his childish presence at the reception. Our passion is hospitality, but our children have the freedom to choose their future. Louis practices ski racing in Albertville in the Pôle Espoir of the French Alpine Skiing. Through his activity and his many travels, he gives us a fresh look at our profession.
Cécile: Entrepreneurs at heart, we want to innovate, give the best to our customers, whether comfort or quality of services. In the hotel business, every detail counts to strive for perfection.
Stéphane: We are poles apart from hotel chains. Our credo: proximity, meeting with our guests, knowing each of their needs to better meet them. We want to welcome them in beautiful and comfortable rooms, as we would for our family.
2- Our achievements:
2-1 Large volumes, classicism and contemporary decoration:
The starting point of our history is located at the foot of the city of Carcassonne, in a tired old building. We are only 28 years old when we decide to invest in this establishment.
Cécile: All spaces must be reworked to reconcile old stones and modernity, at the foot of the ramparts of the City. We decided to create an apartment in the basement of the hotel. It will be our headquarters to supervise the daily work. We carry out all the tasks of the trade: from construction worker to waiter, through receptionist, decorator, maintenance agent or night gardener.
Stéphane: The Hôtel du Château will have taken 10 years to be born at the foot of the Narbonnaises Towers. Its annex will become the Montmorency Hotel.
Cécile: The Hôtel du Château is a mix of medieval and French-style hospitality. The decoration and architecture of the Middle Ages (rich fabrics, coffered ceilings, old stone and wrought iron) are magnified by quality materials subtly chosen and coordinated, with respect for places and the rules of art.
Stéphane: A new establishment is added to the first two in 2010: the Hotel de l'Octroi, 2 stars, below the City of Carcassonne. The 17 rooms it counts are a little tired and are quickly the object of a relooking. After 4 months only, new acquisition: 4 terraced houses allow us to extend the building, thus offering customers a terrace overlooking a garden and swimming pool.
Stéphane: The investment exceeds the forecasts, but it is a new Hotel de l'Octroi which is realized close to the city of Carcassonne and the medieval city. Young, colorful and contemporary, based on simple furniture and design.
Cécile: Simultaneously, the purchase of two houses nearby adds to the capacity of the Hotel Montmorency.
Stéphane: The financial risk is again present, and we are calling for the first time to external companies that complicate the work. I am running out of energy and can no longer receive customers, much to my dismay.
Cécile: The Montmorency hotel has a new look: more contemporary but also more upscale, despite a colorful decoration and a more contemporary design.
Cécile: 30 people make up the permanent staff. His priority: to answer all the desires of the customers, whatever the request. It requires patience and versatility at all times. Make yourself available and anticipate expectations.
Stephane: Be attentive, take care of the customer, be caring: this is what we must expect from our staff.
Cécile: Our employees are motivated and dynamic to absorb the workload inherent to the hotel business. The quality of the service is at this price, even if it must lead to the evolution of the teams.
Stéphane: Year after year, our establishments have evolved as customers have been waiting for more. We could no longer be satisfied with the comfort of the rooms, their irreproachable welcome. We had to provide new benefits.
At that time, in 2011, there is no spa in Carcassonne. We are building one in the basement of the Hotel du Chateau, an extra luxury for our guests. These have a private area with pool and steam room. A place of tranquility devoted to relaxation, relaxation and care.
Cécile: 4 masseuses are trained with Carita in Paris, a brand considered THE reference of aesthetics and care. The staff intervenes directly within our hotel in private cabins, out of sight. A privileged place for loyal customers, always better satisfied.
Stéphane: The profession has been confronted since 2010 with a revolution in its relationship with customers, with the emergence of online booking platforms. They see their search easier thanks to the quick comparison of offers (services, location, price, comfort). However, for hoteliers this tool breaks the direct relationship with the customer upstream of the reseation.
Cecile: We are sailing in the mist. Moreover, the crisis of 2008 aggravates the competition, some professionals embarking on a price war exacerbated by the will to fill the rooms. Online sites punctuate us through the commissions they take in exchange for a good SEO. The hotels are seeing their margins-already weak- melt like snow in the sun, up to 50% of the price sometimes.
Stéphane: We are separated from our customers, and the distortion between the rates and the investments and services provided is increasing day by day. We plan to separate some of the staff. Another aspect becomes worrying: online reviews. Some disgruntled customers are surfing the internet without us knowing their annoyance. Digital communication, with all its excesses and injustices, breaks contact with people, even when we make the effort to communicate. Our profession loses its appeal and we are gradually losing confidence. We need to evolve, to find new horizons.
Cécile: The respect of the customer, the pleasure of receiving, of doing well and of giving pleasure are the engines of our activity. It is out of the question that we abandon them: we will keep our rates to continue to offer the best welcome to our guests.
Stéphane: Over the years, the use of online platforms has been refined. Potential customers have learned to distinguish the offers and the value of our services. We more easily discriminate the positive messages that we receive, and learn to better take into account the requests. Carcassonne saw us born, but our desires have evolved: we must launch new ideas.
3- New projects?
3-1 To relax:
Cecile: Our family will be the starting point of this new adventure, as it has always been. Build the future with our children, relive together, according to our rules.
Stéphane: This new project must be anchored in a monument, an ancient site made of old stones that have passed through the centuries. Aigues-Mortes, who saw the departure of the Crusades, will be this place. The Hôtel des Remparts will be the showcase. The Camargue, the Gard, place of holidays and idleness: sun and sweetness of life at the edge of the water.
Cécile: In Carcassonne, everything is rushed. Tourists visit the medieval city in a hurry and go to the audoise beaches or Spain. Their stay lasts only one night, in a hurry as they are to take the road, to the caps of the A9. There is no question of basking, enjoying or even enjoying the rest in our hotels.
Stéphane: On the contrary, Aigues-Mortes is a village that breathes tranquility, time to live and the desire to hang out. We discover the Camargue, its habits and customs, its manades and its preserved environment. We enjoy the beaches far from the big city, Montpellier. You can sample local products, take a boat trip or enjoy live music.
Cécile: Your meeting with the Hôtel des Remparts will begin on the terrace. The opportunity to enjoy a secret cocktail, fruit of the work of Stéphane and our boys. Then you will discover the old stone vaults of the temperate lounges, vast and illuminated by the soft sun penetrating through the tall ancient windows. You can also enjoy the indoor pool, intimate and quiet place where you can relax after a day of great sun.
Stéphane: The hotel has its character of its ancient architecture, made of carved stone and high ceilings. A building alternately barracks, then gendarmerie and finally prison, which still offers today all the comfort, luxury and elegance of an exceptional place.
Cécile: We had to marry the power and the charm of the stone building with a contemporary and comfortable design of our rooms. We come to the Hotel des Remparts to rest, take time for a break, with family, friends or for an informal work stay. And this, whatever the season.
Stéphane: In 2016, we were enthusiastic, but the difficulties quickly emerged. The work was difficult, the stone is not a conciliatory material. It was a titanic work of renovation and reconstruction, all in respect of the old, and taking into account the passage of time.
Stéphane: In order to save time, I personally invest myself to prepare, every morning from 6am, the equipment and the construction site to make sure that it starts without any delay. I take this opportunity to plan the following work, improve what can be. I finish alone, late at night, doing the silent tasks that do not bother the neighbors.
Cecile: We are opening in 2017 ... but only the terrace and the bar. While continuing the construction, we succeed our first season.
Stéphane: In spring 2018, after 19 months of construction, the Hôtel des Remparts opens its doors, our rooms receive their first customers. The Rives family takes a new start.
We now share our time between Carcassonne where we continue to operate our 3 establishments and Aigues-Mortes.
Our eldest son still evolves in the Alps as a high level skier and at the same time continues his studies at EDHEC in Nice. Our second son alternates between graduate studies in international business at the faculty of Notthingham and that of Valencia in Spain. Our two daughters are boarders in a school near Lyon. And our youngest is educated near Aigues-Mortes.
To date, we are considerably weakened by this terrible COVID crisis which is hitting our industry hard. We stand firm and remain hopeful.
We do not yet know what will be the rest of our life, but one thing is certain, the desire to create atmospheres and invent hotels is still more than ever in us!
To follow so ...