An air of the Dolce Vita floats all year round at the Société des Bains de mer. Owner of the Monte-Carlo casino, the Hôtel de Paris and that of the Hermitage, the Louix XV-Alain Ducasse restaurant. ., the flagship of the principality embodies all the splendor and glamor of the Rock. Conceived from the start as a vacation destination in its own right, the Société des Bains de Mer (SBM) has continued to attract a wealthy international clientele to this extraordinary state of 2.2 square kilometers. A mission which dates from its creation in 1863 by sovereign order of Prince Charles III, which it carried out tirelessly.

Despite competition from Las Vegas, London, Macau and Singapore, the Monte-Carlo casino remains a must for all the biggest players on the planet.

First private employer (with 4,000 employees), second real estate owner (with luxury residences, offices and shops, in addition to four hotels, around thirty restaurants and two casinos), the SBM is a heavyweight in the economy Monegasque. It generated a record turnover of 667 million euros last year (2022-2023 financial year ended at the end of March).

64% owned by the principality, this small luxury empire (which has LVMH as a 5% shareholder), nevertheless feels cramped. For several years, he has pushed the walls to grow in Monte-Carlo. In a few days, the Café de Paris, one of its flagship addresses, will open a festive restaurant, Amazonico, on its brand new roof terrace. A project carried out with the specialist in this type of address, the Turkish D.ream International. After eighteen months of work, the address, which only had one room on one level, gained two floors. The Hôtel de Paris is brand new, after a renovation which cost 250 million euros, between 2015 and 2019. More luxurious, the hotel is also larger, with the creation of two exceptional suites (Prince Rainier and Princess Grace) on the roofs, with heated infinity pool.

Relentlessly, the SBM continues to promote its heritage. But Stéphane Valeri, deputy president since January 2023, also wants to write the legend of Monte-Carlo internationally. “I am a reformer,” declares the leader, former president of the National Council of the principality. Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer is a world-renowned brand, synonymous with an art of living, which can be embodied in restaurants, hotels and numerous activities. It is the first resort in Europe to have seven stars in the Michelin Guide. We need to change habits.” With a renewed management team, he is rolling out his new strategy. “We have the dual objective of developing our income in winter and supporting our customers in their vacation destinations by focusing on our brand,” he continues. Our clientele is half American and half from the Middle East. She seeks haute couture services which are our DNA. We are looking at Gstaad, Miami, Saint-Tropez, the Maldives, Rome…”

When no one expected it, the SBM bought the Palace des Neiges in Courchevel 1850 last October. “An opportunity,” says the manager. A major turning point. The hotel will close at the end of the season, for two years of work. “We have the best location of all the palaces in Courchevel 1850,” says Stéphane Valeri. We are going to renovate it to make it even more luxurious, with large dressing rooms, the best home automation innovations.”

After the snow, the Dubai sun. SBM has just signed a new agreement with D.ream International to jointly launch a new restaurant brand in the largest city in the United Arab Emirates. Opening planned for 2025 for this address, which should announce others in the Middle East, all with the aim of “capitalizing on what characterizes Monte-Carlo, its history of more than 160 years, its art of living and its culinary expertise.”

In the past, SBM had considered expanding outside of Monte-Carlo. Without this having materialized. Now is the perfect time to do it. In addition to completing large-scale renovations, the Monegasque company has the means to think bigger, thanks to a juicy financial operation: the transfer (by sale and contribution) of its stake in the online gaming platform Betclic to FL Entertainment (which now brings together Betclic and Banijay, owned by Stéphane Courbit). This operation generated an exceptional profit of 813.5 million euros in the 2022-2023 accounts, part of which will be used for development abroad.

For the first time, a position of director of international development has just been created and entrusted to Pascal Camia, former director of operations. “Tourist destinations are gaining market share and others are developing, like Alula in Saudi Arabia, where places are now up for grabs,” he says. Our ambition is to open several palaces, alone or with investors, by managing hotels.” Without losing sight of Monte Carlo.

“The primary vocation of the SBM does not change: to attract international visitors to Monaco, by enlivening the principality,” insists Pascal Camia. It’s almost a public service mission.”

Gambling remains one of the big reasons to come to Monaco. “We have the most beautiful slot machine park in Europe,” assures Cédric Lorenzi, games director. All manufacturers want to be in Monte Carlo. We have a preview of their machines. Here you are in the Champions League of the game.” Everything that the Société des Bains de Mer has developed has been for the benefit of players, to give them the opportunity to stay longer. But the Rock offers much more than flambé at roulette or on the latest one-armed bandits. “There is a club spirit here that our customers appreciate,” thinks Olivier Thomas, general manager of the Hôtel de Paris. Many of them reserve the same room from one year to the next.” Every summer, he has to refuse people due to lack of availability. In high season, entire families stay at the hotel for three to four weeks. “The SBM is part of the myth of Monaco, as much as the Formula 1 Grand Prix,” concludes Guy Antognelli, director of tourism and conferences for the principality. Finding such an offer (hotels, gastronomy, culture, games, etc.) in such a small territory attracts curiosity. But it’s the level of quality of its infrastructure that encourages people to come back.”