In this exclusive edition, HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco looks back at the 150-year history of the Société des Bains de Mer in an interview. He mentions the history of Monte Carlo, which is synonymous of luxury, prestige and refinement. Prince Albert II also evokes the attractiveness of Monaco, which is not only linked to its history but also to its events, whether cultural, sporting …
Your Highness, the Société des Bains de Mer was founded under the aegis of François Blanc, at the invitation if your ancestor, Prince Charles III, on the suggestion of his mother, Princess Caroline. How do you see this remarkable venture?
I admire it because it took great courage, a lot of imagination coupled with a vision of the future and, of course, great political acumen on the part of my ancestors to launch the project. Princess Caroline was convinced that it was a good idea, and managed to persuade her son, Prince Charles III, to make it happen. François Blanc and his wife Marie were brilliant business minds and absolutely determined to succeed. They had a long-term vision of how the Principality should develop economically. One can’t help but applaud their pioneering approach towards developing tourism.
The creation of Monte-Carlo was a significant milestone in the history of the region, as well as for the tourism sector. What role do you play in ensuring that this legacy lives on?
Monte Carlo is famous the world over. The name is synonymous with luxury, refinement, beauty, and a certain type of lifestyle. It helps to promote the Principality on an international level. I obviously make sure that the district retains all the charm it has become famous for, and honours the spirit of its founders, but also that it continues to modernise and move with the times. It is a very interesting challenge that engages both my government and the SBM – in projects such as the renovation of the Hôtel de Paris and the Sporting d’Hiver.
How do you work with the Société des Bains de Mer, now known as Monte-Carlo SBM?
The SBM is an important part of our economy with its casinos, hotels and other establishments. It also plays an essential social role because the company is the largest private employer in the Principality and employs many Monégasque people. The Government of Monaco has always had a very close, constructive relationship with the SBM. I am kept constantly informed on the progress of the group, which is going through a difficult time at the moment. This concerns me because the company has a significant impact on my country’s economy, but I am confident that it will be able to meet the challenges it is facing.
What is the attraction of Monaco today? Is it still linked to this extraordinary history?
Monaco’s attraction lies in its undeniable strengths: safety, quality of life, education system, political stability, and also its history. Monaco has also always been seen as a place for entertainment, and I must congratulate the SBM for continuing this tradition over the years. In fact today it partners with the most important sporting and cultural events in the Principality.
The Principality’s image is partly defined by the establishments of the Monte-Carlo SBM group. How do you think it will fare in the future?
I feel calm and confident about its future. I have big ambitions for my country, which has survived the financial and economic crises since 2008 without incurring external debt. I know that the entire staff of the SBM is working hard to maintain the level of excellence that the group is famous for. I am counting on everyone to do their utmost to ensure that Monaco continues to be a global leader in terms of hospitality.
HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco