Basel’s hoteliers have been called arrogant, aloof and unresponsive profiteers for many years by visitors to Baselworld tired of being gouged for sky high room rates and overpriced food and drink.
Les Trois Rois is Basel’s only 5-star hotel and home for the duration of the watch and jewellery exhibition to the world’s most senior executives.
It is effectively block-booked by the biggest Rolex and Patek Philippe authorised dealers of the world.
It is booked solid every year, and is no longer taking bookings for the final week in January 2021, the dates Baselworld will occupy.
Its cheapest room in the next few weeks — at the height of the Coronavirus crisis — is around £500 per night. This rockets during Baselworld, and guests have been required to book more room nights than they need — at times the entire duration of the six-day show — in order to secure a booking.
For a typical jeweller visiting from overseas, which might have a team of people attending Baselworld, the cost of staying at Les Trois Rois for the show can run to tens of thousands of pounds.
Coronavirus has crippled businesses across industries, and hospitality has been among the hardest hit, but Les Trois Rois has remained open throughout and only closed its bar and restaurants from March 18 to April 19. “We will only grant house guests access to the hotel until April 19,” the company says on its Facebook page.
The rational reaction to the postponement of Baselworld and uncertainty over the entire exhibition industry is for guests booked into Les Trois Rois this year to cancel their hotel bookings. This is precisely what most watch executives have been trying to do.
But Les Trois Rois took until March 18, almost three weeks after the Baselworld announcement, to reach a decision on how to handle cancellations, and the news was not good for guests.
Free cancellations are not possible, the hotel has told guests with many thousands of pounds tied up in reservations. “Should [guests] wish to cancel the booking we will charge 100% of the costs,” an e-mail sent to one prestigious jeweller, and seen by WatchPro, says.
The even more egregious insult to its loyal and long-standing guests is delivered should people be generous enough to choose to move their reservations from this year’s cancelled Baselworld to the 2021 event in January.
Rather than simply changing the bookings, Les Trois Rois is charging a “10% no show fee”.
WatchPro has invited Les Trois Rois to comment.