Another famous brand followed the example of Mandarin Oriental, Marriott, Four Seasons and the Hilton and started offering high-end accommodation in Prague yesterday. The Buddha-Bar chain has an exceptional brand all over the world – people are queuing up in front of the chain’s restaurants in New York, Paris, London and Dubai.
The Buddha-Bar hotel is the first of its kind, though. The company chose Prague as the most suitable location. More precisely, Jakubská street near the Municipal House.
The reconstruction and furnishing of the classicist Art Nouveau building happened in cooperation with National Heritage Institute and cost the investor CPI Group CZK 350 million. Despite that, the company does not worry about the investment. “I am not afraid of the impact of the crisis. People are becoming more demanding. Not only when it comes to services, but also when it comes to experience. And that is exactly what my whole concept is based on,” Raymond Visan, owner of the brand and founder of the Buddha-Bar chain, told Hospodářské noviny. His Prague hotel, bringing together a concept of the bar, café, fashion boutique and a restaurant, is aimed at the most demanding customers. A suite costs EUR 2,000 per night.
The hotel cannot complain about a lack of interest. Clients were booking accommodation at the “Buddha” even before its opening. Even though Visan is against advertisement campaigns out of principle. “I find it interesting when my phone rings at midnight and a person who just left Buddha-Bar in Dubai books accommodation in our hotel because he has just heard of it,” said Veronika Fajčíková, head of the Prague hotel. Specific synergy also played a role in the birth of the Buddha-Bar Hotel idea. It was J&T financier Patrik Tkáč who convinced Visan to bring the brand to Prague after he visited the Buddha-Bar in Paris.
Your bars have a great reputation. There are long queues outside bars in New York, London and Sao Paulo. What made you consider becoming a hotelier and open the very first hotel in Prague?
Opening a hotel has been my dream. Moreover, I like Prague very much and I have always wanted to do some business here because I know that there is a great interest in this city around the world. Now I got an opportunity to bring both of these dreams together. And I was excited when I saw the space in Jakubská. The spot near the Municipal House is perfect and it corresponds precisely to the concept of fusion of the new and the traditional embraced by the Buddha-Bar.
The concept of the Buddha-Bar Hotel in Prague deliberately brings together oriental design with elements of Prague Art Nouveau. Did you take part in the designing?
I am not an architect, but it’s true that a number of elements present in the hotel are my personal ideas. I have my visions. What I was after was to interconnect the concepts of a restaurant, bar and accommodation space. Everything has to be high-class, comfortable but also original and special.
We had to discuss everything with the conservationists – we preserved the historical ceilings, everything was part of a debate. We wanted to keep the historical atmosphere of the building and connect it with modern design.
Do you think the Czech market is ready for such a luxurious hotel? Especially at the time of a crisis that affects the tourist industry?
I understand why this question comes up. But we have to remember that Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and will stay that way. Tourists will not easily tire of the perfectly preserved monuments of all architectonical styles that can be found around each corner. Prague was lucky, just like Paris, in not being destroyed during the war; it has a wonderful atmosphere and just like Paris it will not lose it. Neither will it lose the interest of tourists.
How do you want to attract customers? Good food and modern design?
That too. You need to realise, though, that you can find good sushi or chicken salad almost anywhere if you’re lucky. Gastronomy is improving fast, and Prague is no exception. Moreover, when I want to eat really well I stay at home and cook from first class ingredients. And I know that many people feel the same. I believe in other things – events, exceptional experience, the good feeling of a pleasant evening.
Opening of a Prague Buddha-Bar Hotel is not accompanied by any overwhelming marketing campaign. How will the clients find their way to you?
I am not the guy for advertisement. I believe in word of mouth and that the quality will not remain secret. And that the many people who frequent our bars around the world will simply give in to curiosity and stay with us when visiting Prague. Why force it onto them, though? I am certain that this hotel will find its clients just through being unique in the whole world. And that the people will keep coming back.