Basel’s premier hotel refuses refunds for bookings during cancelled fair


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.

You cannot book online at Les Trois Rois for the dates of Baselworld in 2021.

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.

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  1. This is utterly ridiculous. Baselworld authorities should take a stand on this. Because they promoted Baselworld as a new and improved show with support of hotels from Baselworld

  2. Have never re-visited Baselworld since they threw out the Chinese exhibitors during the 2003 SARS epidemic without telling visitors. Arrived with two staff members with non of our supply companies to see. Utter discgrace how the small companies are so blatently ignored by the big watch houses.

  3. I find this unbelievable that they are acting like this especially with the amount of money they have earned with the watch fair in previous years. I hope everyone boycotts this hotel in the future.

  4. Hotel du Commerce is doing pretty much the same. They are asking to pay 100% 2020 reservation and offering 50% discount for the 2021 edition instead of cancelling this year reservation and moving the booking to 2021.
    Is really a shame to profit under these circumstances.

  5. I am sorry to say that I am not surprised. Being swiss myself I to say that ‘a Switzerland for you.
    We on the other hand had to cancel our holidays at a lovely hotel in the UK. As we had a non refundable booking we expected to loose the money. But no, we were offered to change our stay to another date within the next 12 month.
    That’s hospitality and generosity for me.

  6. The constant strategy in Basel is price gouging. A few years back, the managing director of the Fair (who I will not name) was found guilty in court of corruption, did not loose his job! That says it all.

  7. I have been participating in this watch fair for 30 years and for 30 years, restaurateurs and hoteliers have stolen visitors, young and old and today, they are and remain as selfish as ever. You absolutely must boycott these establishments by refusing to pay 2 to 4 x the normal price!

  8. Dear Rob,
    With all due respect, I partially understand and agree with the Article of yours, but I am sorry to say, you are judging a situation involving a Business Sector you are not familiar with as to how it works.
    Of course Hotels in the city of Basel but not only in this city but everywhere in world where a city is yearly hosting a major event (Geneva Auto Saloon, Barcelona MWC, Berlin ITB, Miami Art Basel etc etc), are, or were profiting from these Fairs. Hotels, especially in a small city like Basel do not have unlimited Guests segments they can profit from throughout the year.
    Anyway, let us concentrate at Basel and the Baselworld fair.
    You will agree with me that, whatever the Journey Purpose is (Business or Leisure), it is inevitably connected with the cost factor. One of the costs is the cost of accommodation. When it comes to events, fairs, exhibitions etc., the accommodation cost especially for exhibitors (either customers and or Staff) is a part of their Logistic calculation.
    For the Baselworld the cost of accommodation for the companies exhibiting is number four on their list. The main cost factor is getting their luxury goods in Switzerland/Basel and transferring these back from where these were transferred. Number two on the cost list is the Booth. With a booth, I mean a) Renting (exhibitor’s fees), b) Construction, c) Planning and d) Implementing. The third cost on the list is marketing prior to the fair. At number four, as mentioned is the accommodation.
    For your Article to be accurate, I would expect an experience Editor like yourself, to shift the “why Baselword has come to this unfortunate situation in Basel” and look more deeply into the “WHY”.
    It is only unfair to point out your finger at the Basel Hotels, and them being the ONLY reason(s) why Baselworld has come to the edge of “extinction”.
    If I take you back, 10 years ago, during the financial crisis, the SARS etc, the Companies involved in the above top 4 cost list, did absolutely nothing to “save” the fair. They did not want to hear anything about it, did not show any flexibility and kept their costs/charges towards all exhibitors with NO exception at the same level. Did you ask Mr Michel Loris-Melikoff how much the Booth fee per square meter was reduced since 2010? Did you ask what Baselword and MCH did to make this fair sustainable?
    At the end of the day, hotels play an important role in the customer Journey. I would allow myself to say the most important role in a customised Journey such as this of a fair. As for moving the fair to Dubai or any other destination, I would say only this: Made in Switzerland.


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