Relais & Châteaux, with 580 unique hotels and restaurants throughout the world, has named Laurent Gardinier to succeed Philippe Gombert as president of the luxury representation association on January 1.
Gardinier is a co-owner, along with his brothers, of Relais & Châteaux’s Domaine Les Crayères in Champagne, France, and of Parisian restaurant Le Taillevent.
“I get huge satisfaction from working in the world of hospitality and wine, even though I am neither a practitioner, nor from hotel parents, nor from a hotel school,” Gardinier said. “Promoting Art de Vivre (the art of living) through our beautiful properties fills me with joy. Hospitality and gastronomy combine such rich worlds – architecture and aesthetics, culture and civilization, our sociability and humanity.”
The association’s current national delegate for France and a 17-year board member, Gardinier says his vision for Relais & Châteaux’s centers around three main areas:
- reducing the membership’s environmental footprint with economically realistic solutions
- preserving biodiversity, working in particular with member chefs
- enhancing respect for member employees and increasing social responsibility
“We must remain attentive to the quality of our network, to the values we share and to which each member must feel aligned,” Gardinier said. “I think it is necessary to broaden the 2014 Manifesto, to retain our role as pioneers, and to give it an even greater societal, eco-responsible dimension. In that way, we can motivate and retain our employees, bring more meaning to their jobs, retain and unite our current members and attract guests who are equally aligned to our commitments.”
Gardinier said he plans to write and publish a new Manifesto in 2024, building on the work from 2014 that focused on “making the world a better place through food and hospitality and to elevate the fine art of living,” but encompassing current issues and taking the specific sensitivities of each country into account. He added that he will work closely with Mauro Colagreco, an Italian-Argentinian chef whose restaurant, Mirazur, has three Michelin stars and who is a long-time activist for eco-responsible gastronomy. “In 2024, on the 70th anniversary of Relais & Châteaux, we will unveil our new ambition,” he said.
In fact, Gardinier has formed an eight-member Executive Committee to ensure the governance of the association. They include:
- First Vice President: George Goeggel of Auberge du Soleil, Rutherford, California – member of the committee since 2009
- Vice President, Chefs: Mauro Colagreco, Restaurant Mirazur, Menton, France – new committee member
- Vice President, Africa: Shan Varty, Londolozi, South Africa – new committee member
- Vice President, Asia-Oceania: Kana Otowa, Restaurant Otowa, Tochigi, Japan – new committee member
- Vice President, Europe: Vito Cinque, Il San Pietro, Positano, Italy – member of the committee since 2017
- General Secretary: Susanne Gräfin von Moltke, Gut Steinbach Hotel Chalets SPA, Germany – member of the committee since 2020
- Treasurer: Matías de Cristóbal, Awasi, Iguaçu, Argentina, Patagonia, Chile – member of the committee since 2017
- Member: Justin Zammit Tabona, The Xara Palace, Malta – new committee member
Gombert will remain active within the association as Honorary President, a member of the Commission Network, and as co-owner, with his wife Stéphanie, of the Château de la Treyne in the Dordogne, France – a member of Relais & Châteaux since 1992.