A lover of the mountains, Martin Devictor (Grande Ecole Program, 1999), left the finance sector in 2016 to launch Mont-Blanc Collection, a group of three boutique accommodations in the heart of Chamonix. Today, he is continuing to develop his company and beginning a number of new projects to quench his thirst for adventures in the hospitality sector.
Chamonix seems to be in your blood…
Exactly, my grandparents went there on their honeymoon in the 1940s and later they often rented chalets to spend time with their children, and then their grandchildren. My father even had a chalet built in the 1980s when we were living in England. This is where my love of sports and the mountains comes from.
How does one get started in the hospitality sector?
It wasn’t something I had really thought about beforehand. I began my career at a web startup, and then I moved to the banking sector, at the Royal Bank of Scotland in Paris, London and then Geneva. This final destination gave me the chance to move closer to the mountains. My brother, my sisters and I wanted to build chalets for our families. In order to make profit from them, we opted to rent them out like hotel rooms. This is where I discovered my passion for hospitality. At the same time, it seemed necessary for me to explore other professional horizons and to build a longer-term vision, unlike in finance where you can very quickly become out of touch.
In 2010, I heard about a small hotel that was up for sale. I went in on it 50/50 with a hotelier, a brilliant person that I learned a lot from. He used this hotel as a showcase to set up his group. Later, I bought his stake and founded my own hotel company.
How many accommodations do you have today?
There is Hôtel Le Faucigny, the Le Génépy apart-hotel, opened in 2016, and the Whymper Chalet & Spa opened in 2017. I have a capacity of 51 rooms and I can accommodate up to 130 guests. Soon, I am going to open another two projects and thus double the number of rooms. This is the critical size to reach for management companies to be profitable.
Was becoming an entrepreneur important to you?
Let’s say I had it in my blood, too: my father was an entrepreneur himself. Being your own boss means constantly discovering new things. There is no routine. Sometimes I have to deal with really unexciting things like water leaks or heating problems and at the same time manage the strategy of a hotel concept. It’s extremely diverse.
Why do you love the hospitality sector so much?
Obviously there is the human dimension, the relationships with our guests. But there is also the real estate and land aspect that I like a lot.
What memories of emlyon business school do you have?
I was really involved in campus life, namely through the student government. I was even elected president of the Lyon Students’ Federation. I have maintained many friendships I made during these years. Alumni are very kind with each other and share the same values. It is a very open platform.
What’s the next step for Mont-Blanc Collection?
There are the two projects underway in Chamonix. I would also like to manage a hotel in Paris. And even later, in around 2 years ideally, I would like to go international. I will see based on the markets and the opportunities. Europe remains a market with certain potential for high-end accommodations, but why not in Asia or Africa? Anything is possible, as long as we go step by step.