A project intended to relieve traffic on the western approach to the Principality has come up against fierce opposition from Cap d’Ail, but work is pressing ahead.
The traffic situation getting in and out of Monaco during rush hours is dire. The back-ups add considerable driving time for commuters, not to mention increasing C02 emissions, spurring authorities to take action.
Plans for a €30 million underground “funnel” on the Moyenne Corniche to relieve congestion in the worst hours as well as another smaller project widening the Hospital/Jardin Exotique roundabout are well underway, but have come up against some hurdles.
CAP D’AIL CONCERNS
The problem is that, with any major construction, there comes issues and Cap d’Ail Mayor Xavier Beck is up in arms about the disruptions that will be caused to his town.
Mayor Beck filed formal complaints in October 2022, citing the inevitable inconveniences as his main concern, including the loss of 30 parking spaces, as well as the cost to the town – in the region of €30,000 according to the mayor.
“These are traffic disruptions that will be considerable for a year and a half,” he told the Monaco Matin. “The Metropolis also advised us [at the start] to say no to this project. I have a letter on this subject from the Director of the Roads of the Metropolis.”
According to him, the concerns regarding the project should have triggered a bureaucratic response, one which Mayor Beck says was not respected.
“We have a charter of the Metropolis, which deals with the management of disagreements and which expressly provides, when a municipality does not agree with a project, that there is an in-depth discussion or even a calling of the municipal council to issue an opinion,” he said. “However, this whole procedure was not followed by the Metropolis.”
Though unhappy, Beck has said he would withdrawal appeals “if the problems that these two projects will cause us are taken into account”.
MONACO NEUTRAL BUT INVOLVED
The mayor also said he had met with Monegasque Minister of State Pierre Dartout, sharing a list of suggestions that were well-received and which he expects will be responded to promptly.
In general, Monaco’s government has been able, by-and-large, to remain out of the fray here, letting French procedure take the lead on the fight, but Bastien Nespoulous, Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi’s Chief of Staff, had made it clear he sees this project as a real joint international effort. As Monaco is financing 80% of the project, the case is strong that the Principality is indeed quite committed to its success.
“The Metropolis considers that this partnership with the Principality of Monaco, in particular for the construction of this funnel near the Rainier III tunnel, has a safety dimension,” Nespoulous told Monaco Matin.
He added that the Prefect of the Alpes-Maritimes has asked the Monegasque government to bring the Rainier III tunnel up to standard – in line with Mont Blanc standards.
“The Minister of State said that upgrading only makes sense… And it will be done [in the case of the project coming to fruition],” he told the publication.
Stéphane Valeri, the new Président Délégué of Monte-Carlo SBM, laid out his roadmap for Monaco’s largest, most important company on Friday to a room full of local journalists.
The press gathered in the Salle Sincerity of the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel and Resort on Friday 12th May to hear for the first time the vision of the new head of Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer (SBM).
The former president of the National Council, who officially took over from Jean-Luc Biamonti on 24th January, said that he has spent the past three months developing his roadmap for the Monegasque company.
“We now have it, and we can communicate it,” he told the room full of press.
He described his appointment, by order of Prince Albert II of Monaco, as a moment of “pride”, particularly given his family history with SBM. Valeri’s great-grandfather, who worked in gaming, received a 50th anniversary medal in 1913; his father also spent his entire career with the company.
“Loyalty to the Société des Bains de Mer has been found in many families, often for decades,” said the 61-year-old Monegasque native. “And for good reason: our group is the economic flagship and the leading employer in the Principality. The SBM has contributed to writing the legend of Monte-Carlo, under the impetus of our Princes, from Charles III to Sovereign Prince Albert II.”
Valeri revealed that he will bring with him the same formula he has applied throughout his entire professional career: namely listening, respect for people, strategic thinking, and taking risks.
“Deciding means taking risks. We need to take the most limited, calculated risks.” he said. “My management style won’t change. I won’t be led by ideologies or biases.”
Valeri then laid out his roadmap, which has been created in consultation with the SBM Board of Directors.
A new management team
For his tenure, Valeri has restructured the entire management team and expanded it by three, taking it from six to nine. His mission, he says, is “optimal governance, by changing it according to the new priorities and the objectives that we have set ourselves”.
Firstly, Valeri chose to fill the position of general manager, one that had been left vacant for 12 years. Albert Manzone will therefore be responsible for the day-to-day running of the company.
“I think it was important given the ambitions we have for the development of the group,” he said. “We are now in the pre-summer period, where we have 5,000 employees. I believe it was essential that I be assisted by a general manager who will be in charge of more operations, of implementing actions, which will allow me to have more time for reflection, analysis, strategy and development.”
Another important decision, says Valeri, was the appointment of a new general secretary in the form of Virginie Cotta, who has also been entrusted with SBM’s legal department, real estate assets, culture and heritage, and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
Meanwhile, the appointment of Pascal Camia to Director of International Development was part of a strategy for expansion abroad.
“It is true the SBM enjoys a great reputation and expertise recognised worldwide in the field of luxury hotels and games. However, this potential for growth has never been developed to date, apart from certain financial holdings in international companies. It is now a question of providing the SBM with a team responsible for preparing its development abroad, in a targeted manner and within the framework of a very precise strategy,” said Valeri.
The ultimate goal, he said, is to acquire hotels, restaurants, and casinos in other countries to develop its international clientele. He also wants to export SBM brands to destinations like the French Alps.
“Strategically, we have to be where our customers go, with an offer that complements the one we have today in Monaco.”
Maintaining a strong workforce
The SBM president acknowledged that it is now very difficult to recruit and retain seasonal workers, a phenomenon faced by the hospitality sector the world-over. Therefore, retaining staff year-round is one of his goals, and he plans to prioritise workers in the Alpes-Maritimes for that purpose.
He says that establishing hotels in the Alps will also help with staff retention during winter months, before they return for the busy Spring/Summer season in Monaco.
Acquiring accommodation in the Alpes-Maritimes, particularly Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, is also a priority.
The modernisation of Le Meridien, whose contract is up for renewal this September, is among the new rejuvenation projects for SBM. Valerie revealed that the option of knocking it down and starting again is still very attractive.
He also said that an expansion of the Salle des Etoiles is also on the cards for next year as security requirements have reduced its capacity.
The Salle des Etoiles at Monte-Carlo Sporting Club will be open to the public every night this August with the new addition of Billionaire, an “intimate” setting that will be “unrecognisable” with its cabaret-themed evenings.
“It’s up to us to know how to attract new talent, to create new shows, to revive, for example, the famous Mood’s that all of Monaco expects, to also offer more regular entertainment that is more in line with the image that we want to give,” said Valeri.
More impressive Christmas decorations and entertainment falls into that vision.
There will also be the opening of the new Maona vintage bar in June, as well as the Club La Vigie and Blue Bay, which is undergoing a major interior renovation.
Monaco’s iconic Café de Paris
The reopening of the Café de Paris, which has been delayed until October, is slightly over its €55 million budget, revealed Valeri. The major project includes the new Amazonico restaurant with large terraces overlooking Place du Casino, but that will not be delivered until April 2024.
Never-before-seen images of the new Café de Paris were revealed, showing a bistro atmosphere on the ground floor, and a chic brasserie with more subdued atmosphere on the first floor.
Valeri highlighted that new luxury brands will open in the seven new retail spaces of the Café de Paris in autumn. There are also plans to develop several areas of Monaco for new economic opportunities.
“Over the next few years, we will have to continue to enhance our land by creating new areas for residences, offices and shops. And then, it will be necessary to plan the restructuring of the Sporting d’Eté peninsula, a great source of future profits.”
Valeri concluded the press conference by acknowledging the strong team that he is surrounded by, saying, “With all of our nearly 5,000 employees, with our new management, we are going to ensure that our future lives up to our brilliant past – and the bar is very high – to continue to write new pages of the legend of Monte-Carlo.”