Marie-Louise Ritz

Marie-Louise Ritz, born Beck, was born in Alsace on the 29th October 1867 as daughter of a hotelier family. Her mother owned a small hotel in Menton.
On the 16th January 1888 the 38 year old Caesar Ritz married the well educated and multi-lingual young lady who was only 21 years old. Before the marriage of Marie-Louise Beck and Caesar Ritz there was a long period of friendship and companionship, a time of getting to know each other. The wedding of Marie-Louise Beck and Caesar Ritz took place in Cannes. From his home village Niederwald Caesar Ritz's brother Josef, at that time council of the district of East Raron, was present. Marie-Louise Ritz gave birth to two sons: Charles and René Ritz.
Marie-Louise Ritz was an incomparable companion, a loyal friend and essential support for her husband. She was intelligent, energetic, cosmopolitan and multi-lingual and always stood by her husband with advice and deeds because she knew a lot about the hotel business. Her interest in art, literature and culture added to an unforgettable taste in her designing. She played a big part in the success of the interior design of the hotels in Paris and Rome. As Caesar Ritz soon fell ill and didn't have the strength to take part in all events, she continued to carry out the most important businesses energetically. From the beginning she found a good friend an advisor in the chef Auguste Escoffer. At that time the great tragic actress Sarah Bernhardt was a regular guest at the «Ritz». Auguste Escoffier was persuaded to constantly prepare even more exclusive menus, because Sarah Bernhardt increasingly refreshed herself on diet menus. Marie-Louise Ritz also took interest in the often poetic named courses of Auguste Escoffier. She urged him to do more for an exquisite menu, because she was convinced by Caesar Ritz's opinion, that the cuisine played an important part in the excellence of the hotel.
When Marie-Louise Ritz, representing her husband, who was very ill, held the opening speech at the new «Ritz» in Budapest, she received a telegram a few minutes before, informing her of the tragic accident of her son René Ritz. Even so she held the speech, hiding her grief and dismay and then returned to her room, where she was found collapsed later on. This was the first time Marie-Louise Ritz was to be tested. This woman needed a lot of strength when only two months later her husband finally died of his illness he had burdened for 16 years.
Now Marie-Louise Ritz had a big responsibility: Management, continuing the business and the fulfilling of the «Ritz» hotels and it's branches. It wasn't easy for a woman in the business world dominated by men. Marie-Louise described it with the following words: «They often let me feel that I was only at the meetings in London and Paris because of the name Ritz. This situation was understandably very difficult to support. But even so I was determined to carry on in Caesar's footsteps.» She was nominated president of the administrative board of the hotel «Ritz» in Paris and board member of the "Ritz Hotel Development Company". Until the year 1961 she had the responsibility of the hotel business whose president had been Caesar Ritz, and was manager of the hotel «Ritz» in Paris. After that the management of the "Ritz" was passed on to their son Charles Ritz. Of coarse renovations constantly had to be carried out, but the «Ritz» always remained the «Ritz», even when nobody from the Ritz family was the manager. The last manager of the «Ritz» in the family was Monique Ritz, the wife of Charles Ritz. Today the hotel «Ritz» is owned by the family Al Fayed.
Marie-Louise went to great effort to stay in contact with Caesar Ritz's home village. Every year, in the middle of August, she would travel by train and coach from Paris to Niederwald. The villagers always gave her a warm welcome. She even had a footpath made which led from the centre of the village to the birth house of Caesar Ritz, where Marie-Louise Ritz always wanted to spend her visit. Her son Charles Ritz, who was also very welcome, accompanied her a few times.
Every time that Marie-Louise Ritz visited Niederwald a grand party, the «Ritz-Fest», was organized. Every villager got to shake the hand of the «Grand old Lady» and every child received a small gift. Marie-Louise Ritz enjoyed the warmth and the hospitality of the small mountain village. Together with her son Charles Ritz she realized the wish of a new village well, which Caesar Ritz had missed on his last visit. Later on she also funded the renovation of the village grave yard, which remains one of the nicest of its kind until today.
In the year 1952, for the 100 year celebration in memory of Caesar Ritz, two years too late, she and her son took part gratefully. The whole world was present, politicians, business people, hotel managers, the world press, and many friends and acquaintances of the Ritz family and from the village Niederwald. Following another wish of Caesar Ritz, Marie-Louise Ritz and Charles Ritz founded the «Caesar Ritz Foundation».
It should enable the young people of Niederwald to be able to go and study or to have an education of their choice. Everybody should have the chance to step into working life with a good education. The «Caesar Ritz Foundation» was presided by Marie-Louise Ritz and Charles Ritz. Today his wife Monique Ritz is the person responsible.
After the death of Caesar Ritz, Marie-Louise Ritz lived in her apartment at the top of the «Ritz» in Paris. A highlight of the villagers from Niederwald was when Marie-Louise Ritz invited the municipal council to visit Paris on the occasion of Caesar Ritz's 100th birthday in 1951. The municipal council was spoiled in every way and was even allowed to stay at the «Ritz». Marie-Louise Ritz made their stay an unforgettable one, she showed and made possible everything they wanted to experience. From this day on «Madame Ritz», as she was often called by the people of Niederwald, was no longer just the «Great Lady», but was also seen as a friend.
On the 8th January 1961, at the proud age of 93, Marie-Louise Ritz died in her home in Paris. Until her dying day Marie-Louise Ritz was very close to the village Niederwald. Her last wish was to be buried with her husband Caesar Ritz and her son René Ritz in the village cemetery in Niederwald.

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