From Club Med to Mama Shelter: How the Trigano Family Continues to Revolutionize the Hotel Business

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Since its inception seven years ago, the Mama Shelter hotel brand, founded by the Trigano family, has put people, hospitality, technology and innovation at the heart of its business to surprise and delight its customers and build a unique hotel experience.

Combining warmth, pleasure and generosity, every Mama Shelter hotel likes to call itself an urban kibbutz where guests are encouraged to engage not only with the space and the neighborhood, but with each other too. Creative, mold-breaking and truly unique hospitality runs rich in the veins of the Trigano family.

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Long before the Trigano family created Mama Shelter, they first helped found another well-known resort destination: Club Med. In 1950, following WWII, Gilbert Trigano conceptualized a vacation club that wouldn’t just serve as a place to stay, but rather an “all-inclusive” vacation where all signs of monetary transactions would disappear — understanding Europeans, exhausted by the war, would crave inexpensive, bohemian vacations in the Mediterranean sunshine.

This revolutionary concept of an all-inclusive vacation club later made Club Med synonymous with pseudo Polynesian villages that parlayed the unusual concept into one of the world’s most successful business models. Gilbert’s booming business earned him recognition around the globe, leading him to meet with a string of high-profile individuals, including former King of Morocco Hassan II, former President of France Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, and even the Pope.

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Fast forward to 40 years, Gilbert stepped down as head of Club Med in 1993 and passed the reigns to his son, Serge. Faced with new competitors and shifts in vacation tastes, Serge clashed with the Agnelli family (who you may know as the FIAT founding family), the Board’s majority shareholders who ultimately ousted the younger Trigano in 1997, thus ending the Trigano family’s involvement with Club Med. That ending was the beginning of Mama Shelter.

Joining forces with his sons, Benjamin and Jérémie, Serge sought to create something different. A meeting of the minds between all three generations of Triganos — Gilbert, Serge, Benjamin and Jérémie — led to the founding of Mama Shelter, a collection of high-style hotels where emphasis is on high standards of service, warm and welcoming staff in a highly designed yet comfortable environment.

The antithesis to other boutiques that sell “cool” over hospitality, Mama Shelter’s boutique hotels are born of the notion that “Mom knows best” and provide an “urban kibbutz” — a refuge for guests of all backgrounds that offers a mix of shared fun, affordability and exceptional service. Designed by Philippe Starck, the first Mama Shelter opened in Paris in 2008 and, before long, celebs such as Jay Z and Beyoncé were visiting Mama.

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Since then, Mama Shelter has expanded to include locations in Marseille, Lyon, Bordeaux, Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro and now Belgrade — but one thing remains consistent throughout all properties: Mama prides itself on being original and providing one of a kind offerings for guests, including free streaming porn in all hotels, cartoon masks which lend themselves to user-generated social content and unadulterated fun, as well as unconventional retail partnerships (i.e. Mama Shelter branded Durex condoms, a CLAE sneaker partnership and much more).

Each Mama Shelter property is unlike the other, with each one having its own vibe and sensibility about service. Upending common notions of what a hotel should be, Mama Shelter will soon open doors to a new Prague property. The Trigano family plans to continue growing Mama Shelter with properties that promote communal fun and having a great time.

Written by

Tony Bowles is one of the youngest sought out journalists in the media world. He focuses on lifestyle, travel, entertainment, food and more! Based out of NYC.

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