2020 is a year that will live long in the memory. For the bad times, alas, but also for the good. Since we like to look on the bright side, we’re here to reminisce over what has been a year like no other...
Do you remember how full of hope the lights were, shining bright onto the Casino de Monte-Carlo? How the two twenties glittered proudly in the starry night? During the worldwide ordeal that was to follow a few weeks later, Monaco’s implementation of effective and judicious sanitary measures, along with its efforts to ensure that life remained as unfettered and enjoyable as possible, have been nothing short of exemplary. Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer has played its part too, with a keen focus on keeping clients and staff safe whilst continuing to offer the best possible experience of the fabulous Monaco lifestyle – its raison d’être – throughout.
Let’s take a look back... In February and March, after Italy was hit and France had battled with the first of its outbreaks, Europe realised the severity of the virus, the likes of which had not been seen in modern times. Monaco’s turn to lock down came. As did the dilemma: how were we to show solidarity with caregivers on the front line, whilst also bringing you – our clients and friends – as much joy during lockdown as possible?
In showing solidarity, it was our flagship, the Casino de Monte-Carlo, that led the way. #StrongTogether fluttered from the façade. The slogan, also printed on masks and endorsed by His Royal Highness himself, led to a number of initiatives that you were generous enough to support: like the one launched by our staff to raise money for caregivers.
How though, were we to bring that Monaco high life experience to our guests? Some were locked down at home, and some at the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo, which remained open throughout with all the necessary precautions in place.
The ideas, which were compiled in an “Inspiration at Home” collection, came pouring in. Michelin-starred chefs from the Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer restaurants shared their recipes to make at home. Delicious food hampers were carefully crafted. We took to social media, sharing yoga classes, children’s games, readings, playlists, films and more at full tilt like never before.
At last, we got the go-ahead to reopen. The precautionary measures, early testing, mask use, temperature taking, and plexiglass installations worked particularly well here in Monaco and throughout the Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer group, meaning that most Monaco residents and visitors remained in remarkably good health. In May, it was time to reopen the premises that had been forced to close their doors: to emerge from lockdown, and to let loose once again on the legendary Monte-Carlo lifestyle. Instagram overflowed with photos: the Monte-Carlo Beach, Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo, Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo, Casino de Monte-Carlo, Casino Café de Paris and more…all testament to this new-found freedom. The Monte-Carlo programme has paved the way to us enjoying that freedom with care.
Freedom and care were also the order of the day during the wonderful Swing Monte-Carlo programme that ran from late spring into summer. Mada One held chic picnics in the Jardins des Boulingrins near the Place du Casino, the beating heart of Monte-Carlo, whilst other itineraries wound their way through nature, gardens, culture, museums, monuments, music and luxury fashion in the form of the city’s boutiques, not least at One Monte-Carlo.
Freedom and care were also at the heart of our cultural calendar. It was care that led us to cancel the traditional Monte-Carlo Summer Festival. Nevertheless, the Casino de Monte-Carlo succeeded in keeping the Opéra Garnier open, where Fabrice Luchini gave a world preview of his poetry performance on portraits of Jean Cau and other writers. Monaco residents and summer visitors were treated to the actor’s only live performance, with strict preventive measures in place including a halved venue capacity – Luchini did, however, also go on to win the hearts of millions of web viewers around the world with his poetry videos.
The stage at the Opéra Garnier was also the venue for a musical dinner party hosted by the Casino de Monte-Carlo several weeks later. In the interests of safety it was a private event, with just a few exclusive guests coming to see the captivating Caroline Vreeland and the wonderful Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra.
The new Place du Casino was able to host its first cultural event as well, with the great Cécilia Bartoli giving an exceptional open-air performance with the Les Musiciens du Prince-Monaco orchestra. Simply unforgettable!
Indeed, Monaco’s precautionary measures worked so well that a second lockdown did not prove necessary this autumn. Shops stayed open, as did café terraces, restaurants, outdoor sports clubs and – to the great delight of our punters – casinos. Preventive measures remain in place, and we continue to monitor the risk of the virus spreading to ensure that everyone stays as safe as can be.
The same applies to the festivities in Monaco, which begin in a few days’ time: freedom, the high life and unadulterated pleasure go hand-in-hand with responsibility, and a grave awareness of the situation in Europe and around the world. A magnificent Christmas tree towers over the Place du Casino: it is taller than ever this year, as if to defy fate. Families waving goodbye to this strange year in Monaco know a warm, safe welcome awaits them: that they will be pampered and doted on, and that we will do everything in our power to ensure their experience here is the happiest and most comforting it can be. Their eyes are filled with hope and already looking to “Twenty Twenty-One” a year that we hope will not be remembered for its uncertainty, but for celebrations filled with joy.