History Ritz Madrid Present Ritz Madrid

The Ritz in Madrid in 1911, shortly after it opened <|> and today, at night.

Ritz Madrid

cover hotel ritz madrid by manfed markowskiThe Ritz Madrid is one of the classic elegant European grand hotels. It welcomes us with all the luxruy of a bygone time, elegant and refined, yet state-of-the-art und in fact very contemporary.

From the preface of our book on the Ritz:

"You have arrived at the Ritz in Madrid, slowly coasting into the thick carpets of the lobby. Engines are shutting down. The flight-comparison is carefully chosen – you were virtually propelled in by a bewitchingly smiling page girl who had given the revolving door a well calculated push at the right moment. You have passed the concierge desk on the right and checked in at the enchanting reception room to the left. Your luggage is in the room and you have landed. Now let’s explore the lobby, the field of deployment of the local and international socialites’ armies.

Rarely do we encounter buzzing cosmopolitan flair in the company of such seducing and relaxed atmosphere. At the grand piano, Vincent plays ‘it’ again. Tourists gather at the low tables, unfolding large maps, discussing the tours of the day. Delicate Spanish ladies teeter in high heels through the meadows of deep pile carpets, thankful for reaching the other end without a major accident. Their elegant costumes tell us about the wedding, the christening, the ceremony they are attending in one of the salons of the hotel, or at the Bar, or El Restaurante Goya. The Ritz is the place where the society of Madrid likes to meet. But the Ritz also stretches its arms wide open to the foreign visitor, permanently composing an air that immediately makes you feel at home. Once at the Ritz, you are the focus of the staff, they follow every movement, every sign, and even if they seem to leave you unattended, they do it because you wish it. Hollywood actor Richard Gere stayed here for an undisclosed amount of time – the staff kept so perfectly mum that not even the most persuading Paparazzi had a glue. For the marriage of the Crown Prince of Asturias, Felipe, some 20 delegations – mostly crowned heads of all countries, resided at the Ritz. 

A challenge for the staff, heaven for the guests. Madrid is one of the architecturally most exciting cities of Europe. Old blends harmoniously with new. The Ritz, I dare to say, gives me once again that feeling of being at one of the great classic grand hotels in the world. The wooden panelling, the impressive Henry Lepaute clock behind the concierge desk, the revolving door at the entrance – all this sums up to a pillow of cosy comfort one loves to rest on. From the Ritz you are at the Prado museum in 60 seconds. Rooms facing south overlook it. The Thyssen-Bornemisza museum is across the street, at the threshold of the historic centre of Madrid, which at some point is called Madrid de los Austrias. That stems from the days when the Habsburgs ruled Spain and the sun never set over their global empire. The Ritz was born into the Spanish monarchy of the Bourbons. Alfonse XIII, the son of Alfonso XII and Maria Christina of Austria, had this brilliant idea of encouraging the right people to build a luxurious hotel in their capital. That enterprise started in 1908, the hotel opened in 1910.

And here, my dear reader, is its story. Please follow me onto the next pages – I may, if you don’t mind – go ahead.

(From the book HOTEL RITZ MADRID, by Andreas Augustin & Thomas Cane)


27 June 1908: Creation of the Ritz Development Company under the stewardship of Cesar Ritz (1850-1918) - the name was franchised. The idea is to create a luxury hotel in Madrid (see also "Legendary Stories").

14 May 1910: Building work finishes - at a cost of 5.628.53O,08 pesetas.

2 October 1910: Alfonso XIII, along with the royal family, certain ministers and the Liberal Mayor of Madrid, José Francos Rodrígues, inaugurates the Hotel Ritz in Madrid.

1926: The Belgian Georges Marquet buys the hotel and sits on the board of directors. The Marquet dynasty will own The Ritz for over 50 years.

1926: A young Salvador Dali stops at the hotel to get a haircut and enjoy a cocktail.

1936-39: During the Spanish Civil War, the hotel is converted into a military hospital.

1947: Death of Georges Marquet. His son Georges Marquet II takes the reins.
1978: Ex-Mayor of Barcelona Enrique Maso take charge. By this time the hotel has fallen into some degree of neglect in the hands of Georges Marquet's grandson, Georges Marquet III, who is not interested in stewarding a hospitality empire.

1981: Trusthouse Forte buys the Hotel Ritz. The English company has some 900 establishments around the world, including 18 exclusive hotels of the calibre of The Ritz.

1982: John M. Macedo, a native of Gibraltar, becomes general manager. He starts a 2,000 million peseta renovation programme to restore the hotel to its former glory.

1991: Alfonso Jordán becomes general manager. 1990: The Ritz is the most expensive hotel in Europe.

1996: The Forte group sells off some of its hotels, including The Ritz. Pablo Kessler is now in control. 2003; 26th April: In a 50/50 joint venture with Omega Capital, a major Spanish investment company, Oriental Express Hotels acquires The Ritz. It is OEH’s second hotel in Spain, following the acquisition of La Residencia, Mallorca in 2002. April: The hotel becomes an Orient Express property and Swiss Anton Küng becomes general manager.

2015, 22 May: Mandarin Oriental takes over the management of the hotel, the Saudi Arabian business group Olayan takes over all Ritz shares. Christian Tavelli is the new general manager.

The Indian princess of Kapurthala created a real buzz around Madrid when she came to stay at The Ritz in 1915.

Others to have sojourned here include:

Royalty:

Don Juan de Borbón, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, King Abdulla of Saudi Arabia, King Alfonso XIII & Queen Victoria Eugenia, King Harald V of Norway, King Hassan II of Morrocco, King Hussein of Jordania, King Jaled of Saudi Arabia King, Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia, King Mohammed VI, Prince Ali Khan, Ernst August V. Prince of Hannover & Caroline Princess of Hanover, Prince Haakon & Princess Mette-Maritt of Norway, Prince Naruhito of Japan, Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco, Queen Noor of Jordania, Queen Sonja of Norway, The Duke and the Duchess of Windsor, HIH the Emperor of Japan (travelling as Prince Aki Hito), Maharaja of Kapurthala, Prince of Wales and Princess Diana, Princess Michael of Kent, Grand Duke of Luxembourg & Duchess of Luxembourg, Royal family of Liechtenstein

The World of Politics:

Konrad Adenauer, Kofi Annan, Yaser Arafat, Tony Blair, Fidel Castro, Mikhail Gorbachev, Mata Hari, Mikhail Kasianov, Helmut Kohl, John Major, Nelson Mandela, Olusegin Obasabjo, Shimon Peres, Eva Perón, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, President Bill Clinton, President Bulent Ecevit, President David D. Eisenhower, President Eduardo Duhalde, President Francisco Pérez, President George Bush sen., President Jacques Chirac, President Johannes Rau, President Jorge Quiroga, President Vladimir Putin, Romano Prodi, Margaret Thatcher, President Uribe Alvaro

The World of Music:

Marc Anthony, Imperio Argentina, José Carreras, Cher, Placido Domingo, Duran Duran, Brian  Ferry, Herbert von Karajan, Julio Iglesias, Elton John, Jennifer  Lopez, Lorin Maazel, Madonna Paul Mc Cartney, Yehudi Menuhin, Arthur Rubinstein, Frank Sinatra, Sir George Solti, Spice Girls, Sting, Tina Turner

Writers and other Artists:

Feernando Botero, Paolo Coelho, Erica Jong, Alberto Maravia,  Gabriel García Márquez, Somerset Maugham, Salvador Dalí, Mario Llosa Vargas, Gore Vidal

Entertainment:

Woody Allen, Rowan Atkinson, Javier Bardem, Antonio Banderas, Warren Beatty, David Beckham, Monica Bellucci, Mel Brooks, Pierce Brosnan, Richard Burton, Michael Caine, Meonardo il Caprio, Claudia Cardinale, George Clooney, Jennifer Connelly, Kevin Costner, Billie Cristal, Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz, Danny de Vito, Alain Delon, CAtherine Deneuve, Vim Diesel, Michael Douglas, Kirk Douglas,Linda Evans, Henry Fonda, Harrison Ford, Milos  Forman, Jodie Foster, Morgan Freeman, Tsa Zsa Gabor, Andy García, Ava Gardner, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Whoopi Goldberg, Hugh Grant, Melanie Griffith, Salma Hayek, Rita Hayworth, Dustin Hoffman, Paul Hogan, Anthony Hopkins, Lesley Howard, Holly Hunter, Jeremy Irons, Samuel L. Jackson, Nicole Kidmann, Burt Lancaster, Jack Lemon, Jerry Lewis, Sophia Loren, Sophie Marceau, Steve Martin, Marcello Mastroianni, Rose  McGowan, Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Demi Moore, Roger Moore, Laurence Olivier, Michelle Pfeiffer, Brad Pitt, Franka Potente, Dennis Quaid, Anthony Quinn, Jean Reno, Julia Roberts, Robert Rodriguez, Ridley Scott, Claudia Schiffer, William Smith, Silvester Stallone, James Stewart, Ben Stiller, Liz Taylor, Emma Thompson, Sigourney Weaver, Orson Welles, Rene Zellweger

The World of Science & Business:

Wernher von Braun, Ricardo Cisneros, Alexander Fleming, Malcolm Forbes, Steven Hawkins, Barbara Hutton, Stavros Niarchos, Christinas Onassis, Nelson Rockefeller, Baron Heini von Thyssen, Ivana Trump

The Stars of Fashion:

Manolo Blanhik, David Delfin, Dolce & Gabana, Tom Ford, John Galiano, Carolina Herrera, Stefano Pilatti, Prada

On 23 June 1908, Ena bore Alfonso a second child, the Infante Jaime, who was born in the royal palace of Granja de San Ildefonso in Segovia. Around that time, Alfonso called on Luis de Cuadra y Raul, the Marquis of Guadalmina, and suggested that he found a company to construct the hotel Madrid needed. The Marquis of Guadalmina had – as his king – made the acquaintance of the establishments of a certain César Ritz, both in London and in Paris. They were aware of a sort of ‘franchise project’ called Ritz-Carlton in New York, and of course he knew the Carlton Hotel, which had opened in Pairs some years earlier.

The hotelier, César Ritz, was contacted in Paris. It was his good name, his experience and his golden touch the Spanish hotel developers were seeking. And so the Compania de Desarollo Ritz (Ritz Development Company) was offcially registered before the notary don Antonio Turón y Bosca on 27 June 1908. The first board of directors were Excmo. Sr. Marqués de Guadalmina (chairman), his directors Sr. Marqués de Ivanrey, Excmo. Sr. Conde de Albiz, Sr. Barón Günzburg, Excmo. Sr. D. Estanislao de Urquijo, Mr. H.V. Higgins, Sr. D. Luis de Errazu y Rubio, Sr. D. Eusebio Güell y López and Mr. W. Harris, as secretary we find in the registry Sr. D. Mariano de Cuadra y Raoul, his assistant was Sr. D. José Asensio y Caro. The first meeting of the board took place two days later, on 29 June 2008.

Hence, 2008 is often spotted as the opening date of the Ritz. In fact, it was the year when its mother company was conceived. The company had a capitalisation of 2.5 million pesetas, obtained by a share issue to the value of 2.7 million. The share certificates issued were each composed of twenty coupons costing 35 céntimos each, printed in three different colours by the Casa Raoul Péant. The aim of the new venture was to stated in the second article of the founding act: ‘The principal objective of the Company is the construction and exploitation of a first class Hotel in Madrid, similar in importance to the Ritz Hotel in London and the Carlton and Ritz in Paris.’ The dice had been rolled.

The formal opening took place on the evening of Sunday, 2 October 1910.

The inauguration gala was one of those occasions whose memory gets passed on from generation to generation. The evening was presided over by the Spanish royal family. King Alfonso XIII, his queen, Ena, and the royal princesses and princes and the queen mother were greeted by Prime Minister Canalejas and four cabinet members, who stood next to the main door, which led out to Plaza de la Lealtad. Also present were the Civil Governor, Sr. Méndez Alanís and the Marquess de Comillas and the respective wives. The board members of the Compañia de Deasrollo Ritz, the enterprise behind the new hotel, proudly presented their hotel to the dazzled crowd, their president, the Marquis of Guadalmina, personally led the dignitaries of the night around. In the background, the Cíngaros Orchestra was playing, conducted by Señor Boldi. It was magical.

Just as Alfonso XIII had desired, the Ritz was truly a hotel fit for a king. The hotel boasted a ballroom, a dining room and a smoking room, as well as a host of salons and suites. The most innovative feature was the winter garden on the bottom floor, with palms and other plants, covered by a magnificent glass ceiling. The real beauty of the Ritz was in the details. For instance, there were some 15,000 pieces of Goldsmith’s of England silver cutlery and 20,000 pieces of crockery in Limoges porcelain, a French region by that name (today, the hotel still serves on fine china sporting Limoge design). Robinson S Cleaver of Ireland had produced the table linen, Enrique Loewe, official supplier to the Spanish crown, had taken care of any leather. Two kilometres of carpets from the Real Fábrica de Tapices, the royal manufacturer, ran through the hotel’s rooms, salons and corridors. There were four or five bathrooms per floor, in addition to the sinks in the rooms. Each floor had a telephone cabin, just next to the elevators. In winter the hotel would be comfortable and warm, with steam heating systems in the bedrooms and warm air flowing through the lower floor. In summer, a system of irrigating the glass roof of the winter garden would keep temperatures fresh.

Catherine Hepburn mentions The Ritz Madrid in the movie “Suddenly, Last Summer” USA, 1959

Anton Küng

Managed by: Orient Express Hotels, Trains & Cruises
129 Rooms
29 Suites

Each room has been individually designed with magnificent and unique hand-made carpets, embroidered bedlinen and antique furniture, combined with the latest technology of internet connections (Wireless) and cable television. Bathrooms are beautifully appointed in marble with gilded accessories.

The corner suites offer a romantic hideaway.


The Presidential Suite


The Royal Suite

Restaurant Goya

The Bar

Terrace & Garden

In summer, do not miss the elegant terrace of the romantic garden restaurant. At nights, the cosy bar is a retreat from the world. However, al fresco dining on the terrace is our favourite.

Kids love the Sunday brunch (so do their parents)

Fitness center

Beauty Centre

Sauna

Massage

The chosen venue for the discerning event manager.


The Alfonso XIII Salon


The Royal Salon

Where else but here: at night in Madrid you never fail puttin’ on the Ritz – if you forgive me for this slang expression. Do you actually know where it stems from? Puttin’ on the Ritz is a popular song written and published in 1929 by Irving Berlin. We remember Fred Astaire, Judy Garland and even the Leningrad Cowboys singing it. It was introduced in the musical film Puttin’ on the Ritz (1930). ‘Putting on the Ritz’, simply means to dress very fashionably.
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Our Select Member Hotel

Ritz Madrid
Country: Spain
City: Madrid
Opening date: 1910, 2 October

Note from the Host

General Manager

Christian Tavelli


Coordinates

Plaza de la Lealtad 5
28014 Spain, Madrid

Tel: +34 91 70167 67
Fax: +34 91 701 67 76

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