“The fire broke out at the Ritz Hotel, which is actually undergoing renovations, so there are no guests and there are no victims. The fire affected the top floor and spread to the roof,” Capt. Yvon Bot, spokesman for the Paris fire department, told WWD at the scene.
The blaze of unknown origin broke out at 6 a.m. CET and there were no workers in the building at the time, he said. “The fire is presently under control. Our concern is to prevent it from spreading further to the rest of the floor and the roof,” Bot added.
Smoke was seen billowing from the hotel at 8:15 a.m. CET as firefighters closed Rue Cambon and a portion of neighboring Boulevard des Capucines.
The fire deals a blow to the hotel’s plans to reopen on March 14 after a multimillion-dollar renovation that included a major revamp of its top floor rooms, including suites with terraces offering views of Paris.
Officials at the Ritz Paris had no immediate comment on the incident.
There’s a lot of anticipation for the reopening of the mythic, five-star hotel, owned by Egyptian business magnate Mohamed Al-Fayed. Britain’s Princess Diana was staying at the hotel with Al-Fayed’s son Dodi before they were both killed in a car crash in a Paris tunnel in 1997.
The Ritz Paris has been shuttered since July 2012 for what is billed as the biggest refurbishment in its history, headed by architect Didier Beautemps of Paris-based Atelier COS and interior designer Thierry Despont.
Founded by Swiss hotelier Cesar Ritz in 1898, the hotel has hosted celebrities ranging from Coco Chanel to Ernest Hemingway, after whom the Bar Hemingway is named.
As first reported by WWD, Chanel plans to open its first spa named Chanel au Ritz Paris, dedicated to the brand’s skin care, in the Ritz Club.
In addition to the spa, the project involves refreshing rooms, suites, restaurants, bars, the leisure areas, the Ritz Escoffier cooking school and the hotel’s gardens.
Michelin-starred chef Nicolas Sale, who was overseeing the kitchen at the Table du Kilimandjaro and Kintessence restaurants in Courchevel in the French Alps, is to take the reins of the hotel’s fine-dining restaurant L’Espadon, replacing executive chef Michel Roth.