July 2018 saw the opening of the new CÉ LA VI restaurant and lounge at the rooftop of the Kingsbury Hotel in Colombo. An abbreviation of the French phrase “c’est la vie” – meaning “this is life” – the brand is known for its iconic rooftop locations, innovative modern Asian cuisine and world class music.
“The two brands complement each other very well,” says Kingsbury Hotel’s new General Manager Christine Chevalaz, highlighting the similarities between the luxury lifestyle brands. According to her, with the rapidly changing landscape around the hotel, the time was ripe for a change in their rooftop offering.
Following a $2 million investment, in just under two months, the previous Sky Lounge has been replaced and a part of the rooftop renovated into what is now the CÉ LA VI Japanese restaurant.
While some might see Colombo as a surprising choice for the brand that counts Singapore, Hong Kong and St Tropez as its existing locations, this is a partnership looking at the longer term.
“Once the construction [of Port City] is complete, we will be at the center of an even bigger business environment. This, as a business hotel, will be an advantage for us,” Chevalaz says optimistically.
CÉ LA VI’s Operations Manager Stephan Seguin seconded this from the brand’s point of view. “It’s a no-brainer with the growth seen in Sri Lanka, and especially in Colombo. CÉ LA VI’s signature location in Singapore is on top of the world (at Marina Bay Sands), with magnificent views; and when the Port City is finished, we will have the best views in Colombo.”
The Port City development means the hotel no longer boasts panoramic sea views, but instead will have a more industrial, city scape.
What is CÉ LA VI ?
Along with ionic locations, innovative cocktails and a modern Asian menu are also pillars of the CÉ LA VI brand. “CÉ LA VI is all about food, drinks and music,” said Iyantha Abeysinghe, general manager for CÉ LA VI at Kingsbury Hotel. “We have an unmatched menu, unique beverage offerings and internationally qualified DJs.”
The restaurant is focused on modern Asian cuisine with Japanese fusion. It can seat over 50 persons at a time, including a private dining Teppanyaki area where guest can watch the chefs up close and personal.
Abeysinghe highlights staffing as the biggest challenge in the hotel industry right now. Many of the staff from the previous Sky Lounge transitioned across to CÉ LA VI and new recruits with international experience were hired.
The rooftop bar at CÉ LA VI atop The Kingsbury hotel in Colombo
Training included a full day on CÉ LA VI’s brand standards, and is ongoing. Key members of staff were sent abroad, including the head chef who was trained in Hong Kong. Further training will be conducted with staff visiting from the iconic CÉ LA VI in Singapore.
Further expansion plans for the CÉ LA VI brand are well underway. CÉ LA VI Kuala Lumpur opened in October and venues in Taipei and Shanghai are planned to open soon.
CÉ LA VI at the Kingsbury quick facts
Capacity: 127 in lounge, 57 in restaurant
Number of staff: 40
Restaurant sittings: 6.30pm and 9pm
Open: until 2am