Luxury Hotels

HERITAGE

The above view from room 355 of InterContinental Papeete on Tahiti makes Girlahead want to rush back there quickly? (What IS it about English weather this summer?  She’s wearing her winter coat as she writes this.)

What is now InterContinental Papeete celebrates its 50th birthday this year. It opened in 1974 as Travelodge,  owned by Peter Munk’s BTW, and opening GM Chris Goring stayed until 1979. Then Singapore’s Goodwood Group bought the hotel, via SPHC South Pacific, and Tim Stabelforth was GM, replaced in 1981 by Laurent Bessou, who left 1988.

Now the Brovelli brothers, Philippe and Thierry, come into the picture.  Philippe started in 1984 as F&B Manager, working up to be GM 1988-2000 (he was replaced by Jean Marc Mocellin). Next star to come on stage was Dick Bailey, a friend of the most famous resident of French Polynesia, Marlon Brando. Bailey became owner of SPHC in 1989 and he and Brovelli went on a buying spree. Moorea Tiare Sofitel, for instance, joined the portfolio and became Moorea Beachcomber Parkroyal.

Philippe Brovelli, still to this day an essential advisor to the Bailey family, has always been an innovator. The year after he arrived in town he introduced room service from an outrigger canoe (the hotel was unique in French Polynesia in having overwater villas). He brought his brother Thierry into the company, and one or other of them introduced superb local dance acts at Sunday brunch, Girlahead was lucky enough to coincide with a Sunday brunch 18 months ago and the entertainment was superb, far superior to anything she had experienced in Hawaii.

Now, after 25 years in the South Pacific, Thierry Brovelli is moving on, to be replaced by Laurent Vigneron. He’s an old hand when it comes to the region – he worked in Bora and Moorea a couple of decades ago. It’s rather like The Mousetrap, vintage 1952. Actors come. And go. The play remains (or in the case of that Agatha Christie mystery, remained – until 2020).