The New Face of Southern France


La Reserve Ramatuelles

La Reserve Ramatuelle's rooms afford panoramic views of the Mediterranean

The south of France, with its mild winds, warm sun and exquisite beaches, has been the playground of the rich and famous, bold and beautiful, young and restless for decades. But how does a classic destination remain fresh and exciting for a new generation? (Even Las Vegas had to grow up, eventually.) Hotels throughout the area are growing and changing, imbibing a mix of elegance, fun and old-fashioned Riviera glamour.

La Reserve Ramatuelle, a new Design Hotels property, opened in June near Saint-Tropez. The 23-room hotel and 13-treatment-room spa have panoramic views of the Mediterranean. Visitors seeking total privacy can rent one of 12 elegant Mediterranean villas on the property, available for a night, a week, or longer stays. Since they can accommodate up to 12 people (the largest, with six bedrooms, sprawls out over 6,000 square feet), these villas are ideal for families.

Nice touch: All the villas have a dedicated maid available up to six hours daily. A butler can be arranged all day on demand. The Camarat, Taillat or Escalet Suites have corner views of the sea, letting guests relax in 1,100 square feet of indoor space and up to 2,000 square feet of private terrace. All the rooms, suites and villas have views of the coast, where the deep blue of the Mediterranean Sea merges with the red rocks of the land.

The 1,100-square-foot, 13-cabin spa specializes in five-day doctor-supervised retreats focusing on health and wellness. The program begins with a comprehensive physical assessment performed by a doctor, followed by a one-on-one discussion of the guest’s lifestyle and personal goals. The spa team then creates an individual plan of detoxifying, relaxing and revitalizing treatments as well as a healthy and controlled diet.

A personalized fitness program rounds out the package, and guests can either exercise at the gym or explore outdoor activities such as hiking, canoeing, kayaking and golf. The spa is currently seasonal, though we are told it will soon be open all year for retreats. The villas can be booked all year round. Agents can contact Spa Manager Isabelle Sinceretti (011-334-9444-9444, [email protected]).

Agents should also get in touch with Director of Sales Alexia Beugnon (011-412-2317-1614, [email protected]) or Director Nicolas Vincent (011-336-8822-5406, [email protected]). July and August are the prime months, and the hotel should be booked at least six months in advance for summer vacations.

Another Design Hotels property, Kube, made its debut in June as a Riviera “cousin” of the Paris hotel of the same name, created by the design team of Murano Hotels & Resorts. The property has 41 rooms, including eight suites, arranged in four freestanding buildings along the perimeter of the resort gardens and pools.

Room sizes range from “small” to XXL Terrace (28 of the rooms have a private garden, balcony or terrace). We are told the L rooms are the most popular, with #405, 407, 123, 223 and 323 being the best for families. (XL rooms #201 or 301 are also a good choice for groups.) The rooms and suites have modular furniture that can be easily reconfigured depending on each guest’s preferences. Bathrooms are outfitted with oversized bathtubs and rain showers, and some even have their own steam bath with side-mounted body jets.

Kube is ideal for young partygoers, with two bars, including a rooftop sky lounge and the poolside Ice Kube, an ice bar designed in partnership with Grey Goose vodka, where DJs spin hip hop and lounge dance tracks. For more formal fare, the hotel’s restaurant has more than 10,000 bottles of wine for oenophiles to try. (The wine cellar can also be used for private dinners or wine-tasting workshops.) Croustillant de Langoustine, Lobster Parmentier, Saint Pierre mariné au Gingembre are the best dishes to request.

Travel agents can contact Sales Manager Brigitte Zublin (011-331-4271-2000, [email protected]) or Front Office Manager Florence Chauvet (011-334-9497-2000, [email protected]).

Five-Star Digs

On a private four-acre peninsula in the Côte d’Azur, Cap Estel is one of the first hotels to earn France’s brand-new five-star ranking. (Up until now, four stars were as high as a hotel could go.) With 14 suites and four guestrooms, the property presents itself more as a private mansion than a hotel. Either way, its prime location makes it an ideal retreat for those who want to relax in privacy while staying connected to the high life. (Monaco is only a 10-minute drive away, and the hotel provides roundtrip transportation.)

The best suites, we are told, are Nos. 110 and 120, which have four bedrooms, five bathrooms, a spacious living room, a separate dining room, an American-style kitchen, a quiet study and a terrace that leads to the park. With so much space, these suites are also perfect for families and large groups.

The spa at Cap Estel specializes in therapies based on the five Chinese elements. A popular therapy is the 90-minute Phytobiodermie treatment for the face, which addresses problems in-depth by unblocking energy points with the help of chromotherapy.

Guests can also try slimming, anti-cellulite and toning treatments for the body, using the Icoone device, applications based on algae and slimming serum, lympho-energy draining, chromotherapy and stimulation of the chakras. The Spa uses products from the Swiss brand Phyto 5. Spa Director Anne Julie Korros can be reached at 011-334-9376-2929.

At the hotel restaurant, La Table, Chef Nicolas Vie prepares Mediterranean fare using only local ingredients—in fact, much of the produce comes directly from Cap Estel’s own gardens. As such, there is no set menu, and the dishes vary with the ingredients available. Nice touch: In summer, guests can dine outside by the pool, and visitors staying in the larger suites can enjoy private waiter service in their rooms. (The veal prepared en cocotte looks wonderful.)

Travel agents can contact General Manager Bernard Apthorp (011-334-9376-2929, [email protected]).

On the horizon for 2010 in Saint-Tropez, the new Hotel Sezz, another Design Hotels property, is already creating a buzz. Its 37 rooms will each have a private garden, and the two-bedroom suites will have private plunge pools. (Several of the standard rooms will come with private pools as well.)

The intimate spa at Sezz is reportedly only 1,615 square feet, but in addition to its two indoor rooms, guests will be able to relax and enjoy their treatments in an outdoor treatment area.

While no official opening date has been set yet, agents can contact Manager Ani Kojayan (011-336-8007-5652, [email protected]) for more information.


Kube's rooms and suites

Kube’s rooms and suites have modular furniture that can be easily reconfigured on demand