César Ritz, born on February 23, 1850, was the founder of the Ritz hotels in Paris and London. The tag line was that he was “the king of hoteliers, and the hotelier to kings.” He was notorious for his quest to provide a perfect, luxurious experience for his guests. This obsession with providing only the finest quality gave us the English expression “ritzy.”
Ritz was born into a farming family in Switzerland. He worked for luxury hotels in Paris, Lucerne, and Monaco before opening his own. The Paris Ritz on the Place Vendome remains one of the exquisite hotels in the most exquisite city.
Today’s expression, savoir-faire, (savwar fair) means “to know-to do” or know-how. It refers to the intangible knowledge of what to do, when, and for whom that sets apart the most able people, no matter what their profession. César Ritz’s skill in this domain is why “Puttin’ on the Ritz” is still part of our lexicon.