How to Secure a Luxury Rental at Cannes Lions Festival – Business Traveler USA


The annual Cannes Lions Festival is a must-attend event on the calendars of decision-makers worldwide in the fields of marketing, design, technology, media and entertainment. However, the challenge of securing accommodations for the week—this year running from June 17 to 21—is huge, due to both lack of inventory in the region and the fact that the location often must serve the dual purpose of lodging as well as hosting invitation-only events. Meeting this challenge becomes a balancing act of business, personal taste, needs and time obligations that only a real estate veteran can handle. Justin Garrison has not only run the gauntlet several times, but he has done so in such an accomplished manner that seven years ago he was named managing director of Riviera Luxury Rentals (RLR), a leading source for homes in the South of France.

“Riviera Luxury Rentals in Cannes was born from a serendipitous meeting with Fredrik Lilloe, my business partner who runs the company and is the CEO of Knight Frank [KF] real-estate consultancy here on the Riviera,” explains Garrison. “He came up to the Villa Alang Alang, which is our benchmark home and exclusive to RLR, for a sales estimate. I was managing the villa at the time for the owner. Knight Frank had just opened its Cannes office and was getting lots of rental requests but didn’t have a team to manage them. So I was asked to do a few roundtables with KF to explain the rentals market to them, and the next thing you know RLR was born.”

RLR maintains an egalitarian approach to customer service, whether a client is renting a location for $10,000 a week or $1 million. And during Cannes Lions, the need for such expertise is considerable. “I have a fantastic team that keeps us at the top,” says Garrison. “We invested a huge amount of time working on the tech in our back office, which allows us to be as fast and efficient as possible to get proposals out to our clients. This is how we can smoothly manage all our requests for the big congresses in Cannes as well as the summer rentals. It’s a well-oiled machine.”

High demand combined with a limited inventory is a notoriously challenging element of the festival. Garrison always suggests that attendees book as early as possible in order to access the best selection. “Fortunately, the majority of companies coming to Lions have been many times and understand these parameters. For us, it’s about having as many villas in Cannes listed as possible. We also avoid having homes that you can find on a million agent sites and focus on a number of exclusive properties.”

Garrison is also an expert at helping his clients navigate many of the stringent legal requirements pertaining to rentals in France. “Holiday rentals are quite heavily regulated. One of the many areas we help our clients with is rental insurance, which is legally required.” According to Garrison, “We use a company based in Monaco to put insurance in place for guests. It covers about $30,000 worth of damages. This is especially needed when it comes to luxury rentals, where damage costs can stack up very quickly. Inventory fees, or etat des lieux, is another category that is mandatory upon check-in and checkout. We bring in a bailiff to make a report of the state of the home on these days in order to have comparable documents. These are done to cover the clients as much as the owners.”

Garrison likens the pace of Cannes Lions to that of the entire summer all in one week. The reputation of Riviera Luxury Rentals has grown because of its ability to meet demands while not overextending. “The trick,” says Garrison, “is to always know when to say, ‘No, we can’t do that.’ Otherwise, I say book early, get ready for a lot of traffic, and have fun.”

Justin Garrison’s Tips for Cannes Lions

Justin Garrison, managing director of Riviera Luxury Rentals (RLR) / Photo: Courtesy Justin Garrison

Best way to secure preferred accommodations

Book early! So many people wait until the last minute, which means less inventory. This then means that a Cannes Lions attendee has to settle for smaller or larger accommodations than originally planned, which could end up impacting budget.”

Best way to swiftly lock in a property

“All paperwork should be settled quickly. There is typically a 25-percent deposit due immediately to secure the booking, along with the refundable damage deposit and rental insurance. Of course, for those who do not seek accommodations until closer to the festival, the time frame for the final payment contracts accordingly.”

Best locations

“The most important consideration is the distance to the Palais, which is the main site of the festival. If proximity is your priority, book early and stay in Cannes. This is especially important to think about for schedules, meetings, panels and events. The farther you are from the Palais, the more ground transportation has to be considered. For example, there is not a train from Nice, so alternative transportation will need to be planned. Many attendees like to stay in Cannes because it facilitates quick wardrobe changes and respites. That said, some delegates appreciate a bit of a distance as it provides downtime in between activities. The best strategy is to know your business goals and plan accordingly.”

Best corporate selections

“Senior executives like to go all out when they come to the festival. The best way to make a lasting impression on one’s target audience is through the renting of a villa. Villa Alang Alang is one of the most famous in Cannes. It is exclusive to us and rents extremely well for Cannes Lions because it has nine suites and amazing views. It also has large gardens, which are great for invitation-only events. During Lions there have been fabulous concerts held there featuring performances by such recording artists as Sting, Green Day and Dave Grohl.”


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