Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Ah, to Bee in Paris!

This is the beehive that sits on a balcony on the 7th floor of the Hyatt Paris Madeleine. The hotel conceptualized and created a mascot called Maddie the Bee to try to make bees seem less intimidating to children. As you can see, Maddie is very French -- she is even wearing a beret. (Photo courtesy of Hyatt Paris Madeleine)

Ah, Paris.

City of Love.

City of Light.

City of honeybees on 7th floor hotel balconies.

Well, perhaps the last description is not so well-known, but it is accurate, at least in the case of the Hyatt Paris Madeleine, a charming boutique hotel with its very own honeybee hive right in the heart of Paris.

Whenever I travel, I always try to stay someplace that demonstrates some commitment to the environment.

The Hyatt Paris Madeleine recognizes that honeybees are in trouble and so it has installed and maintains this hive to show support for the bees.

I also like the fact that the hotel hosts an event where local elementary schoolchildren can watch a beekeeper harvest the honey and ask any questions they may have about bees or beekeeping.

The beekeeper at the Hyatt Paris Madeleine makes a point during the honey harvest. (Photo courtesy of Hyatt Paris Madeleine)

Laura, who works in communications at the Hyatt, very kindly gave me a tour of the beehive area. Although she assured me that these are sweet-natured bees, I got to suit up in the white pullover and helmet that beekeepers wear. (Sorry I forgot to ask for a blogger-as-beekeeper photo.) Then we stepped gingerly out on the small balcony and I shot this video of the bees buzzing in and out of their hive.

(The suit seemed unnecessary. The bees did not seem at all perturbed by presence. In fact, they ignored me entirely.)

Later on, I got a chance to sample some of the latest crop of honey and was very impressed. I have to say that it's among the most floral and 'perfumed' honeys I've ever tasted. I'd even go so far as to call it a 'romantic' honey -- the bees have managed to imbue it with the spirit of Paris!

A jar of the 2015 honey crop from the hive Hyatt Paris Madeleine. This little information card in all the rooms not only gives guests a chance to save water and detergent (by refraining from having their sheets laundered every day), it also makes sure they learn about the hotel's beekeeping program and hopefully sparks a conversation on the rationale and importance of such an initiative.

Laura mentioned that the chef in the Hyatt's on-site restaurants, Cafe M and Chinoiserie, incorporates the hotel's honey each year into a special dish/dishes. Last year, the honey showed up in a poached peach desert alongside lime blossoms and red currants. This year, the chef incorporated the honey into a sorbet (shown below).

This seasonal sorbet incorporated honey from the Hyatt Paris Madeleine's own beehives.

Beyond the bees and the honey, the Hyatt Paris Madeleine is still a pretty sweet hotel. The rooms are modern and spacious (for Paris). There's even a little spa in the basement with steam room (they call it a 'hammam') and dry sauna, plus a small relaxation room for chilling out with ambient music.

And I got a kick out of learning that the glass ceiling in the hotel atrium was designed by the workshops of Gustave Eiffel.

This is a view from the lobby looking toward the atrium. You can glimpse the glass roof designed by Mr. Eiffel's studio. (Photo courtesy of Hyatt Paris Madeleine)

You may have heard of Mr. Eiffel. He's well-known for a certain eponymous tower (visible from certain rooms at the Hyatt)...

Mr. Eiffel is actually better known for his tower (seen here in the distance from a room at the Hyatt Paris Madeleine) than for the hotel's atrium. (Photo courtesy of Hyatt Paris Madeleine)

From a practical standpoint, I should note that the Hyatt Paris Madeleine is very well-situated. It's near to several Metro stations (especially the Madeleine and Saint-Augustin stops) and I had no trouble walking from the hotel to the Tuileries garden, the Louvre, the Musee d'Orsay or the Opera Garnier.

Disclosure: Hyatt Paris Madeleine arranged for a press visit so that I could gather material for this review. That said, the opinions expressed here are my own.