|Cannes, famous for its film festival and yacht harbor, is seeing much activity on the hotel front.|
For two days each autumn, Atout France, the official French tourism agency, hosts an intimate gathering in Miami to educate agents and other industry professionals about the nation’s tourism scene. Travel Agent attended the event at the JW Marriott, and caught up with regional representatives to find out what’s new and happening throughout the country.
The Midi-Pyrenees region is stepping up tourism efforts, promoting its copious castles and historical attractions. Pilgrimage travel is also a significant feature (the iconic town of Lourdes is part of the region), and music buffs will want to visit in August for the annual two-week Jazz in Marciac festival.
Marseilles, which has been designated European Capital of Culture in 2013, is looking to become more popular as a tourist destination. An InterContinental is expected to be built by the Old Harbor by 2013, and a new museum devoted to La Marseillaise, the country’s national anthem, opened in March.
Versailles will be getting a new hotel, the Grand Controle, in 2013, alongside the orangery in one of the official 17th-century mansions of the Palace of Versailles. The mansion will undergo a $7 million renovation. Belgian hotel company Ivy International will be in charge of managing and restoring the historical building for a period of 30 years. The Versailles & l’Antique exhibit from October 2012 to February 2013 will bring historic artwork back to Versailles from its current home in the Louvre. Also, new private tours of the palace will take guests into rooms that are usually off-limits.
Cannes now has six five-star hotels, including the Concorde Martinez, which underwent a recent $18 million renovation, and the InterContinental Carlton, which will get a face-lift next year. The Majestic Barrier just completed a new suite-only wing that also has two penthouses—Suite Barriere and Suite Christian Dior (we’re not saying who designed the latter, but a good hint is in the name). Some notable four-star properties include the 3.14 Hotel (for those who don’t remember calculus, that’s pi), and the Radisson Blu 1835 Hotel & Thalasso with a spa that has 46 treatment rooms.
The JW Marriott Cannes (formerly the Palais Stephanie) was refurbished last year. The walls of the newly renovated rooms have large prints of iconic film stars (Elizabeth Taylor features prominently), and are also lined in leather. Elsewhere along the Riviera, the Renaissance Antibes Juan-les-Pins (formerly Hotel Ambassadeur) will reopen under its new brand early next year. All rooms have a balcony facing the pool, and the lyrics of What a Wonderful World are written in the carpet. (The hotel is close to the location for the annual Jazz a Juan festival, hence the jazz theme.)
The Cote d’Azur has 28 five-star properties, five of them in Antibes. A new museum to honor Jean Cocteau will open soon to go along with Le Musée Bonnard, dedicated to the life and career of local artist Pierre Bonnard, which opened in June. Several festivals draw visitors to the region throughout the year, like the Nice Carnival and the Lemon Festival in Menton. Festival Nuits Du Sud A Vence is an annual two-month-long music festival that brings the best African, Arabic and Latin musicians together.