Gérard Pélisson (b. 1932) & Paul Dubrule (b. 1934) are the French co-founders of the Accor Group that includes the Novotel hotel chain, the ibis and Sofitel hotel brands and today has the largest number of hotels in the low, medium and high-range price brackets across France.
Gérard was born in Paris and after studying at Ěcole Centrale Paris, moved to the US where he earned an engineering degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Paul was born in Tourcoing and is a graduate of the Institute of Business Studies at the University of Geneva. In the 1960s, both were living in the US and working for major computer firms, when they met and went into business. Having observed the success of American lodging properties along major highways and in suburban areas, in 1967 they founded the SIEH (Société d'investissement et d'exploitation hôteliers), opening their first American-style Novotel hotel near Lille in northern France. The Novotel chain would go from strength to strength in the years to come, enabling SIEH to launch the ibis brand in 1974 and acquire the Mercure and Courtepaille brands the following year.
In the early 1980s, SIEH acquired the Sofitel hotel brand and Jacques Borel International, at the time the world-leading restaurant vouchers brand. SIEH was renamed the Accor Group in 1983, with Gérard and Paul elected “Managers of the Year” the following year by France’s Le Nouvel Économiste magazine. They co-chaired Accor from 1983–1996 and Accor’s Supervisory Board from 1997. During the 1990s, the Group continued to expand, entering the North American market and diversifying to include casinos.
Gérard’s awards and distinctions include Commander in the Légion d’Honneur and Officer in the Ordre National du Mérite. Paul was Mayor of Fontainebleau from 1992–2001 and elected Senator for Seine-et-Marne from 1999–2004. They were also co-founders of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).
They were honoured by the Hall of Fame in 1999.