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Les Clefs d’Or (The U.E.P.G.H.) 1952 – 1971


In December 1953, the 2nd International Congress was held in San Remo. 172 delegates from 9 countries attended among the 50 French participants from all over the country.

Congrès de San Remo, 1953


Creation of the European Revue, adoption of the emblem, address to the respective governments for new facilities for stays abroad of our young members. These were the major topics discussed along with the planned agenda of our three very active working days in San Remo.

Feedback was very positive and only twenty months after the foundation of our association could we measure our achievments with satisfaction.

Under cover of the large congresses, meetings of the Steering Committee, of tourist travel and other events which brought together periodically in the most diverse places, delegates and members from different countries, we witnessed a spectacular growth.

In a pleasant communion of ideas, were forging and consolidating fraternal  fellowships. They are the seeds of the effectiveness of action and the active collaboration that each member brings to the customer service, hospitality and tourism, as he builds on the knowledge and experience gained and shared during these meetings.

Then came Munich in 1954, Morocco in the beginning of 1955 and the great Paris Congress at the end that same year. It must be noted that this congress was held under the High Patronage of the General Board of Tourism.

Congrès de Paris 1955

Les Clefs d’Or and the Organizing Committee were able to count on the support of the Councilors of the City of Paris, the Paris Tourism Board and the Seine Region as well as other official organizations from Paris area, the most prominent Parisian Hoteliers, Patrons and Hohourary Members of the association.

Mr Boucoiran, General Manager of Board of Tourism, attended the opening meeting of the Congress, along with many other influential people.


In the Salon des Ambassadeurs

The 250 participants representing 13 countries (Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland, Great Britain, Ireland, Austria, France, Sweden, Spain and Morocco) meeting in the Salons des Ambassadeurs – 3 avenue Gabriel, Paris 8 – were all very touched by the attention that the above people had shown to our association.

The series of lavish receptions, on the fringes of the conference, brought a pleasurable note and was to end with a Grand Gala des Clefs d’Or, the French association celebrating on this occasion the jubilee of its twenty-five years.

During this evening, President Gillet solemnly presented a commemorative medal to the Veterans: P. QUENTIN, F. DECHAUME, F. LAURENCOT, S. SAVI, G. DUVAL, F. CARRERE, L. SIGAUT. Gesture of recognition towards these piionneers, artisans of the current success of the association.

An additional day allowed all the participants to respond to the invitation of the Professional Committee of Champagne wines. The visit of the famous cellars of Reims was, for many, a discovery. This day marked the end of a memorable gathering in Paris.

Came successively the meetings of Montreux (May 1956), Dublin (April 1957), Brussels (February 1958), Berlin & Venice (October 1958), Lourdes and the Basque Coast (1959), London (October 1959), Noorwick (April 1960), Wien (February 1961), Copenhagen (April 1962), Nice and the French Riviera (April 1963), Morocco (February 1964), Madrid (February 1965) with an extension to Costa Brava and the Baleares, Geneva (March 1966)

Then is when the great journey to the United States was organized with the invaluable support of Pan American Airways. This trip was a great success and of considerable impact on the level of our profession, and did not fail to cause a most favorable impression among Great American Hoteliers.

This is in Athens that was to take place from February 12 to 15, 1967, our 15th International Congress. It was as usual a great success. At that time, the association had 16 sections representing 2000 Members.

Brussels, again, would be the site of the next meeting. During this session, from 16 to 20 February 1968, the founding president, Ferdinand Gillet, was to give the torch of the U.E.P.G.H. to Theodor Gödde, President of the German section (right).

On that same occasion, the latter was given the task of organizing the next Congress in MUNICH scheduled for November 1969 as had been previously planned. However, the tragic circumstances decided otherwise because on September 27th, the news of the death of our new President Theodor Gödde, plunged the entire Amicale in a painful dismay that all Members felt strongly emotional about.

The decision of the Presidents of the various sections, with this sad and painful event plunging us into mourning, led to the cancellation of the Munich Congress which was to take place a few weeks later.

The Select Committee, meeting in the Headquarters – 12 rue Cambon in Paris on November 22, 1969, with the Presidents and Deputies of various International Sections, designated Oscar Wirth, President of the Swiss Section, to ensure Acting President of U.E.P.G.H. until the next elections.

These elections were on the agenda of the Great General Meeting of the Board of Directors, from the 3rd to 6th of July 1970, took place in St. Moritz. President Oscar Wirth (right) was confirmed in his position as Chairman of U.E.P.G.H. for the next two years.

The registered office at 12, rue Cambon, which also happens to be the headquarters of the UIPGH, was a hive of activity.

This is where all of the ever-expanding administrative tasks faced by the office are concentrated. Madame Andrée Dorus (below), the Office Manager, was an efficient and effective collaborator with the heart and the mind capable of fulfilling the requirements that control the harmonious functioning of the inner workings of the association. (are to her credit and deserve the trust that has been granted.)have trouble putting this in coherently.

The presence and activity of President F. Gillet as Deputy Chairman were a great help, should it be within the office or to maintain contacts with the outside. His action was to last until the end of 1969 when health reasons would keep him away from the Rue Cambon.

On 3 October 1970, our Founding President left us forever. This sad news that suddenly plunged Les Clefs d’Or in mourning was deeply felt by all members with sorrow and sadness for the one who had contributed so much, by his perseverance and sense of humanity, to create our great and friendly Family and leaving behind a great void. The eloquent record of 17 consecutive years during which Ferdinand Gillet assured with faith and conscience, the Presidency of the Association, will remain an example. In this work should be involved all Councillors and all those who have continued successively during this period to give him an active and fruitful collaboration.

With the admission of the new 16th section, ISRAEL, hosted by the applause of the audience during the debate, the term “Union Européenne” becomes, by general agreement, “Union Internationale”, U.E.P.G.H. becomes U.I.P.G.H.

From 3 to 8 April 1971, from all backgrounds, all delegations met again on the welcoming land of Ireland.

This meeting organized masterfully by the President Curan helped by his dynamic team was a great success. We had the opportunity to honor as our guests His Excellency Prime Minister Mr. Linch who took it upon himself to congratulate our international body and compliment our professional action and our commitment to the cause of International Hospitality and Tourism.

1972 marked the 20th anniversary of the foundation of U.I.P.G.H. in Cannes. Could there be a better choice and more attractive place to celebrate this double decade other than the prestigious setting of the Balearic, immersed in the blue sea and sun-drenched. As our Spanish friends do not shy away from any difficulty or effort, the U.I.P.G.H. was received in Palma de Mallorca on 15 to 18 November 1972 for our 20th International Congress.

Required to appoint a new President, the Assembly decided in favour of Mr. Robert Burdeyron, President of the British Section (right). Were also appointed the 1st Vice-President, Mr A. MOLERO and 2nd Vice-President, Mr J. Gillet, as well as Victor Ducarton, Secretary of the French Chapter, to become General Secretary of Les Clefs d’Or (UIPGH).

Presented by the Spanish, the portugese section founded by the young and dynamic President AMORIN was unanimously accepted and therefore constituted the 17th International Section of our Friendship.

The 21st Congress held its sitting in Munich from November 15 to 20, 1973, and President Freytag and his Committee did their utmost to ensure a grandiose success, showing once more our ever-growing fraternity.

These impressions would take the size of an apotheosis at the next meeting for the 22nd Congress. We met in Tel Aviv on November 20, 1974 where President Alfred Kahn had invited for our annual debates. Very few defections despite some unease that could leave open the indefinable feeling of uncertainty following the prevailing situation in the Holy Land. However I believe that we scored a record in terms of attendance. It is difficult to translate the feedback value of deep satisfaction that, with the most diverse aspects, was the reward of the participants. The work was very successful in a warm and friendly manner.

Along with some further modification of the Statutes, was the appointment of our colleague and friend the new President A. MOLERO from the Spanish Section. With Mr. Jean Gillet becoming first Vice President and Mr. Spartaco Giarola from Milan as 2nd Vice-President, Gérard Thiault became General Secretary of UIPGH replacing Victor Ducarton who had resigned.

Finally, in accordance with our calendar, the last of our meetings held in London from 24 March 2, 1975. Here we were fulfilled on all points, in our aspirations, our friendly feelings, in our professional context and emotionally. We could then see the enviable position of our Union “Les Clefs d’Or”. Therefore, let us continue to work with confidence towards Friendship, which is always beneficial to all, and the ideal that animates us, the human touch.

We then praised and thanked the organizers of these meetings for their magnificent efforts in different countries on the occasion of the great success of each successive Congress. Each manager gave the best of himself, thereby contributing soundly to forge the Friendship that unites us whilst actively participating to spread under the whole heaven, the brand of our friendly “Clefs d’Or”.

Reports of events published in our International Revue have amply demonstrated the extent of movement and favorable interest throughout the Association and its Members.

It was very difficult, to the point where we got, to confine ourselves strictly within the framework of the National Section to obtain a net reflection about the history of the Association. I goes without saying that all the events, all the drivers and emotional elements that animate the Association, are closely linked in this more general which we are embedded. This set consists of the U.I.P.G.H. not lacking, by its representative character, to make the largest contribution, ever more intense radiation, and increasingly favorable influence of our Union Amicale.

The growing prestige which now has expanded to over 2,500 members grouped in the respective Sections of 17 nations has become spectacular.

Thus the representatives of the Union Internationale des Portiers des Grands Hôtels were invited a few years ago to attend meetings of the International Association of Hospitality which, from 12 to 16 May 1969 met on the occasion of their General Assembly in Dublin. These contacts have not failed to mark the meaning and importance of the collaboration, where in the exercise of our profession, we strive to bring to International Hospitality and Tourism, while stressing the value attached to our functions. We note that the late Mr. Mero, Director of the CARLTON, was already in charge of I.A.H. during the establishment of the U.E.P.G.H. Cannes in 1952.

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the creation of our “Clefs d’Or” (French Section – 1929) and to symbolize the union and fraternal Friendship which are the essence of our success, a flag that, within its folds, contains the crest of each member country of the European Union, was created. In 1959, when was its first presentation to the Lourdes Tourism Congress, it received its blessing of Archbishop Maury. This emblem embodies the international ideal, Frienship and cooperation that animates all of us. (…)

Vive Les Clefs d’Or,

Long live “Les Clefs d’Or”

National Secretary 1956 – 1977
Advisor U.E.P.G.H. 1964 – 1965
General Secretary U.I.P.G.H. 1972 – 1974

He retired in 1975 and died October 9, 1977

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