Destination: France: Cannes
One of two grande dame properties that preside over La Croisette (the seaside resort’s iconic boardwalk), the Hôtel Martinez was built in the 1920s and has since undergone countless renovations, refurbishments and face-lifts. Its original Art Deco design scheme has been updated with modern touches, though the recognizable, all-white facade has been carefully maintained. The Martinez is large—its 412 rooms and suites are located on seven floors—and remains the place to see and be seen, especially during the annual Cannes Film Festival, when celebrities camp out here. Families appreciate the large, heated outdoor pool, framed by palm trees, and the private beach club, Zplage, which is free of use for guests and offer such activities as water skiing, wake boarding and para-sailing. Travelers who prefer to have amenities on-site will be pleased to find a serene Givenchy spa and well-equipped fitness center, on the top floor, as well as a two-Michelin-starred restaurant, La Palme d’Or, on the ground floor. If sea views are important to you, be sure to make the request, as most rooms overlook the town and surrounding hillside. The eleven junior suites on the top floor come with private terraces. TIP: Be sure to request a non-smoking room if you don’t smoke.
Hotel Majestic Barrière
Like its sister hotel, Paris’ Fouquet’s Barrière, the Hotel Majestic Barrière mixes old world glamour with sleek lines behind its imposing Belle Epoque façade. However, where the Parisian property’s luxury takes on a more audacious, contemporary form, the Majestic remains more firmly rooted to a traditional sense of ‘handsome.’ The recently renovated rooms feature gold-and-crimson pinstriped sofas and heavy champagne curtains; other rooms are bolder, with rich beige accents over a black and white palette. It’s a more sober feel than one might expect beneath the gloriously bright-blue skies of Cannes, but the un-fussy approach is welcome and the bright upkeep of the rooms are a definite plus. Alas, other properties have slipped in the details—the carpets in Le Martinez’s un-renovated hallways are in dire need of some attention—but the Majestic wins the award for being the most disciplined about constant update. The soon-to-open second wing has been a lengthy three-year project adding over 40 junior suites and suites plus two oceanfront duplex suites at a generous 420 square meters each, which also boast private pools and solariums. This is a commendable feat considering how tight Cannes is on space—portions of the massive Majestic seem pushed up right against the water and its southwest corner stands within spitting distance of those famous red-carpeted steps of the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès.
EDITOR’S NOTE: A drawback of the Majestic’s massive 2010 project is that the fitness club and pool are currently inaccessible. For access to brand-new equipment, guests at the InterContinental Carlton have a small and pleasant (albeit somewhat public) fitness center with all the updated amenities, including personal televisions. For grand accommodations with a pool, the deck at Le Martinez remains a key gathering place next to the in-house, Michelin-starred La Palme d’Or. This year’s newbie, The 1835 White Palm Hotel, plans to have a rooftop pool by next summer 2010.
Built in 1912, the historic Intercontinental is one of Cannes’ most recognizable landmarks. The neoclassical building, which is recognizable to movie aficionados as the main location for Alfred Hitchcock’s 1955 film To Catch a Thief, holds 338 guest rooms and suites, which are, for the most part, more modern and airy than you would expect from a grande dame property. Several of the upper-floor rooms have balconies with sweeping sea views. For the most spacious accommodations, request a room in the west wing. Like the Martinez, the Carlton has a private beach club as well as a fitness center, but there is no spa on the premises. Sunday brunch in the sumptuous Grand Salon ballroom is legendary and a good place to people-watch.
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