Passion Points: Style
The Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, one of the South of France’s most iconic properties, looks better than ever after a $100-million renovation and expansion. Sitting on the idyllic peninsula between Nice and Monaco, the hotel was showing years of wear, so the owners shut the property for 14 months and invested more than $1 million per room to refashion the villa for the 21st century. French star designer Pierre-Yves Rochon, the creative mastermind behind Joël Robuchon’s restaurants worldwide, was entrusted with the redesign and he said of the Grand-Hôtel: “I try to respect the architecture when I undertake a renovation. I am like a surgeon, I have to repair it. What I have from the beginning is a picture of what was before.”
What was there before, most noticeably the hotel’s creamy-and-white colored marble throughout and the lobby’s rotunda (designed in 1909 by Gustave Eiffel), has been painstakingly restored, and the property’s seventeen acres of gardens were given an overhaul by landscape designer Jean Mus. The interiors remain light and airy, with an understated white-on-white design that occasionally breaks into splashes of color: an emerald Murano chandelier here, a colorful tapestry there. What is generating the most buzz, however, is the addition of the Residence wing, which houses sixteen rooms and eight exclusive suites. The pale wood floors, predominantly white decor, including sprawling marble bathrooms, and understated furnishings are a perfect extension of the main hotel’s elegant interiors. Best of all, the suites make the most of the outdoor panoramas: large sliding-panel window walls lead to private terraces and infinity-edged pools (amazingly, the hotel is the first and only along the French Riviera to offer suites with private pools). The deep-blue Cote d’Azur vistas are visible in the distance.
If you can pull yourself from the refined privacy of the new Residence wing, the hotel kept its celebrated beach Club Dauphin, located on the rocky shoreline and accessible by a glass-encased funicular (very James Bond) that leads from the lofty property to the Club and its Olympic-sized heated infinity pool. Most famous here is swimming instructor Pierre Gruneberg, who uses water-filled bowls to get aquaphobes (like Woody Allen) over their fears. Says fashion designer Anya Hindmarch: “One of my favorite parts of the Grand Hotel is its fabulous salt-water swimming pool, which is made even more special by the presence of legendary swimming instructor, Pierre Gruneberg. He has been there forever and has taught the most incredible people how to swim. Taking a lesson from him, you truly feel the history of the place.”
The other place where you feel the—decidedly French—history is the Grand Hotel’s cellar, featuring one of the world’s best wine collections. In 2007, the hotel acquired a unique collection of 135 rare bottles of Château d’Yquem (with vintages from 1860 to 2003), as well as 38 bottles of Château Lafite Rothschild (from 1799 to 2003). For those who associate pampering less with culinary delights and more with facials and mud treatments, there’s the new 8,000 square-foot spa, located in the Residence and accessible via a subterranean passage. Serene, contemporary and featuring a long list of treatments using Carita and Comfort Zone products, the Grand Hotel’s spa is another indication that this venerable property has successfully moved into the 21st century.
Getting There: From the Nice airport, it’s about a 30-minute drive to the hotel; from Cannes, its’ about an hour drive.
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