Hôtel Le Bristol Saddles Fa-raon with the Odious Task of Playing Nursemaid to the Spoiled Brats of the Rich
"Véritable ami et complice des enfants du Bristol, cette petite boule de poils leur apporte douceur et affection et contribue à renforcer harmonie et l'esprit familial du Bristol, une valeur incontestable de ce palace d'exception."
-- Hôtel Le Bristol press release
Since it long has catered to the caprices of the children of the rich, it really was not much of a surprise when the Hôtel Le Bristol announced last month that it had secured the services of an unwitting Birman kitten named Fa-raon to serve as their nursemaid. (See photo of him above.)
New to this wicked old world and its devious ways since only May 24th, Fa-raon's duties at the five-star luxury hotel, located just off the Champs Elysées in Paris' fabled eighth arrondissement, will include, inter alia, keeping both guests and staffers happy, attending public parties and, occasionally, filling in at the front desk. (See photos of him below already hard at work.)
Since the hotel already offers a special menu, treasure hunt, and a complimentary stuffed rabbit to all arriving children, there can be little doubt that Fa-raon's number one job will be providing amusement for them and, in the process, thus enhancing the establishment's bottom line. "Véritable ami et complice des enfants du Bristol, cette petite boule de poils leur apporte douceur et affection et contribue à renforcer harmonie et l'esprit familial du Bristol, une valeur incontestable de ce palace d'exception," the hotel proudly declared last month in an undated and later revised press release that appeared on its web site. (See "Bienvenue à chat Majesté...Fa-raon.")
The decision to bring Fa-raon on board was the brainchild of the hotel's manager, Didier Lecalvez, who was familiar with all the favorable publicity that London's Savoy Hotel has gotten out of its resident feline, Kaspar. (See Cat Defender post of October 16, 2010 entitled "The Algonquin Undergoes Changes at the Top but Management Wisely Decides to Retain Its Most Loyal and Beloved Employee, Matilda.")
"Pour ne jamais avoir une table de treize, je me souviens que le Savoy ajoutait un chat en porcelaine," he told Libération on November 17th. (See "Un chat persan de Birmanie s'installe au Bristol.") "J'ai donc eu l'idee d'en prendre un vrai."
His selection of a Birman likewise was not a spur of the moment decision. "Mes parents ont toujours eu des chats de cette race, réputée sociable," he added. "Le chat se marie bien avec l'esprit du Bristol qui se veut un palace familial et non une grande chaîne internationale."
Although Birmans are known for their gentle and tolerant personalities, most children are anything but gentle and tolerant, especially when it comes to their treatment of cats and other animals. If the truth dare be told, a significant portion of them are known to horribly mistreat and abuse cats.
Moreover, since Le Bristol is part of the Oetker Hotel Collection it has money to burn and therefore easily could afford to hire nursemaids for all of its rich brats. Instead, it is fobbing off that odious job on Fa-raon.
"Les enfants l'adorent!" the hotel's mouthpiece, Mélanie Hubert, nevertheless chirruped to Libération in the article cited supra. "Il est tout le temps pris en photo et câliné car il est doux et très gentil."
That very well may be the case for the time being but just wait until Fa-raon retaliates after one of those brats mistreats him and the hotel will have a lawsuit on its hands. The establishment is not saying but presumably it has taken the cruel and inhumane expedient of divesting him of his claws but he still has his teeth.
Unlike the Anderson Inn in Wabasha, Minnesota, Le Bristol does not allow Fa-raon to go into the rooms of guests except under special circumstances and that should cut down considerably on the amount of abuse that he is bound to suffer in his new job. (See Cat Defender post of May 15, 2008 entitled "Predatory Capitalism Rears Its Ugly Head as Minnesota Bed and Breakfast Sacks 'Overnight' Cats, Morris and Fred.")
Even if things should work out for Fa-raon in the short term sooner or later he is going to either get tired of being abused or simply get old and considerably less tolerant of being constantly pawed by strangers. Once that happened to its cats Anderson House got rid of them in short order and Fa-raon likely is destined for a similar fate.
It also is feared that the felines who slave away in Japan's teahouses are similarly exploited and then discarded. (See Cat Defender post of June 5, 2008 entitled "Teahouse Cats Are Given Shelter and Work but Precious Little Job Security and No Legal Protections.")
Caring for a cat is a sacred, lifetime commitment and businesses, such as Le Bristol, should be held to that unimpeachable standard just like individuals. Cats, after all, belong to places and should not be uprooted, especially once they have grown old.
"Fa-raon, aux yeux bleus couleur océan, symbolise désormais la petite âme féline du Bristol," the hotel pledged in an earlier version of the press release cited supra. Despite that assurance it is, after all, a money-making operation and neither sentiment nor morality ever have counted for very much with the money men.
It also is difficult to understand why Le Bristol's juvenile guests need to be provided with a cat in the first place in that the hotel permits them to bring along one from home for the payment of an additional €50. Most assuredly anyone willing to shell out €770 for one of the hotel's one-hundred-eighty-three rooms or between €1,100 and €2,300 for one of its seventy-eight suites is unlikely to squeal too loud about that nominal surcharge.
The hotel's selection of a purebred also is disturbing. Although Birmans are not known to suffer any significant genetic maladies, purebreds nonetheless often are subjected to all sorts of horrific manipulation and abuse at the hands of breeders.
If Lecalvez and the staff at Le Bristol really cared about cats as opposed to boosting profits they would have gone to a nearby shelter and saved a life. An even more significant gesture would be for the hotel to provide food and shelter for some of the homeless cats on the rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré. (See photo above of the hotel.)
Otherwise, Fa-raon is allowed in most public areas of the hotel as well as in its gardens. Hopefully, measures have been put in place so as to prevent him from straying out into traffic on the busy Champs Elysées and thus suffering the same tragic fate as Casper from Plymouth. (See Cat Defender posts of January 30, 2010 and August 27, 2009 entitled, respectively, "Casper Is Run Down and Killed by a Hit-and-Run Taxi Driver while Crossing the Street in Order to Get to the Bus Stop" and "Casper Treats Himself to an Unescorted Tour Around Plymouth Each Morning Courtesy of the Number Three Bus.")
As far as his diet is concerned there is both good and bad news. First of all, the hotel freely admits to feeding him croquettes which, due to their fat content and being fried in grease, could not possibly be good for his health. That is especially the case since some Birmans have a tendency to put on unnecessary weight.
On the positive side, the hotel has stated that the rich fare served up by noted French chef Eric Fréchon is off limits to Fa-raon. Beyond that, the hotel is not saying what he is fed.
Despite those criticisms, it is hoped that things will work our for Fa-raon at the hotel and that he will grace its corridors for a long time to come. Perhaps in doing so staff at the hotel over time will come to see him as an individual that is worthy of respect, protection, and even veneration as opposed to just another prop that enhances cash flow.
Photos: Le Bristol (Fa-raon) and Joe Shlabotnik of Wikpedia (exterior of the hotel).