With the spotlight on Cannes and the film festival these days, I thought it would be a perfect time to do a post on one of my favorite places, St. Tropez. If you are ever contemplating a trip to this legendary yet surprisingly quaint village on the French Riviera, I have two fantastic options for you – with and without the kids. Even though the Euro these days makes traveling to Europe insanely pricey, it’s hard to capture the essence of the French Riviera anywhere else. And there is a daily direct flight from New York to Nice!
FOR JUST THE TWO OF YOU:
I find many of the hotels on the French Riviera can easily be lumped into two categories (with the exception of the excellent Four Seasons Terre Blanche located only 20 minutes from Cannes):
1) The hip “see and be seen” hotels (unless you are into having a club with pounding music next to your room) such as the Byblos or; 2) the large, formal grand hotels (think lots of marble) such as Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat or Negresco (excellent in their own right just not my speed).
I’ve been wondering why the coastal towns in France lacked intimate yet chic options similar to Capri’s JK Place. And then I found what I was looking for – La Reserve Ramatuelle, an intimate but contemporary hotel with a serious spa perched on a hill above the town of St. Tropez (a 10 minute drive from the center of St. Tropez and 5 minutes from the beach) and the Mediterranean sea. The property is not even two years old which is why you may not have heard of it.
The 23 rooms (7 rooms and 16 suites) in addition to the 12 villas on-property are all gorgeous – a minimalist design (created by renowned architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, who also created the Wall for Peace at the foot of the Eiffel Tower as well as many well-known museums) with natural materials such as stone and wood with floor to ceiling windows and a soothing palette of ochre, white and sand. The result is a look that is sophisticated, sleek and sexy with a bit of a 50’s “mad men”vibe (the original structure was actually built in the 50’s).
La Reserve Ramatuelle is a destination spa as much as a hotel with excellent wellness programs and boot camps. The spa has 24 specialized treatments to choose from (using Creme de la Mer products) and 13 treatment rooms along with a pool, sauna, solarium and even its own in-house doctor specializing in longevity!
Add all of this to a gorgeous pool deck and hopping bar scene for sunset cocktails and you have all the makings of a winner.
FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY:
Planning to go to St. Tropez myself with the family this summer, I spent hours upon hours scouring the web and speaking to villa agents searching for the perfect villa (my requisites: A/C, Wifi, close to town, pool and pleasant decor). Although our summer plans changed, I did find the quintessential place for any family. My friend who lives in the neighboring town scoped it out for me with the local agent and gave it a highly enthusiastic thumbs-up (and she is pretty discerning).
Villa La Source (or Villa Olivia on LuxuryRetreats.com but it was not up on the site as of yesterday) is all about its location. Surrounded 360 degrees by vineyards, lavendar trees and olive groves, the property is a mere 5-minute drive to both the beaches and village of St. Tropez. A bonus is that it is nestled in a residential community with a private gated entrance.
Villa La Source of course comes with a pool (unheated, but few villas have heated pools – very much an American luxury).
All the key conveniences such as air-conditioning, BBQ, WIFI, satellite TV and concierge services are included. Interiors are contemporary but comfortable with lots of natural light. Pool not heated. Prices start in the summer at €1474/night. More pictures can be found on online here.
If you need more room pour les enfants, check out Villa La Moutte with 7 bedrooms and 5 baths, pool and boules court. It is only 3 km away from village and has the luxury of direct sea views. Of course all this comes with considerably steeper prices (just get 3 families to ease the pain).
In my opinion, Luxury Retreats has some of the best vetted listings of villas on the Riviera and in Provence – you can plop me in any of the places on their site and I would be quite content!