How things have changed since the French Riviera originally acquired its status of being the emblem of luxury for people of means in the early 20th Century, where wealthy individuals or royalty would flock from northern Europe for rest in the agreeable climate, not so much bathing in the sun. It may come as a surprise to the modern traveller that these journeys did not peak during the summer but out of the present high season when the air would feel a little more refreshing but still balmy and the sun a little bit lower on the horizon. How apt then to visit the majestic Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat towards the end of the summer season.
The hotel is now part of the prestigious chain of luxury hotels, Four Seasons, but according to the staff welcoming us, they would like to consider Cap Ferrat to be a very special place, born out by the fact that the hotel obtained the "Palace de France" distinction, granted by the French government for its excellence in service in 2011. The highest ranking of all the many “palaces” that sprang up all over the French Riviera, the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat overlooks the sea from the furthermost tip of the peninsula from which it takes its name.
Although a high end destination, the hotel offers accommodation to suit most budgets, ideal to enjoy the glamorous resort lifestyle of the Côte d’Azur with Nice and Monaco only a few minute drive away. Among the 74 light and airy guest rooms – including 24 suites and one villa – some with private terraces and swimming pools. Chic, modern design by Pierre-Yves Rochon features gleaming white marble and textures of white and beige, putting the emphasis on colourful artwork and French Riviera views. Those were to be found in abundance once opening the doors of our accommodation for our stay, the Four Seasons Sea-View Suite on the southwest corner of the iconic building.
A hotel of this calibre wouldn’t be complete unless the cuisine matches its palatial dimensions and it is safe to say that here you will find French Mediterranean cuisine at its finest. From the Michelin-starred fine dining restaurant to the chic poolside grill Club Dauphin restaurant, you can choose between four distinctive venues to suit any mood or occasion. Artist Michèle Letang’s mural inside the restaurant is a tribute to the artistic style of Jean Cocteau, once a regular guest at the Grand-Hotel. The menu is light and well balanced and we would wholeheartedly recommend the Green Asparagus, Fresh Goat Cheese and Truffle as a starter, complemented with sweet sour cherries, fresh almonds and coriander, followed by turbot cooked at low temperature garnished with salicornia, St George’s mushroom and chick peas with parsley, citrus and timut pepper. But in fact the menu is a reason to stay long enough to enjoy all its permutations.
Another signature feature of the hotel is the spacious spa, Le Spa, with five lavish treatment rooms, as well as two outdoor treatment pavilions with mesmerizing Mediterranean views. Here you can experience the range of facial and body treatments by Dr Pauline Burgener who recently launched the Haute Couture concept a revolutionary skin treatment that uses the most sophisticated technologies in skin analysis and personalization of the skin it is really one of the most exciting and wonderful experiences to have something created just for you, our skin not only felt brand new afterwards but it also maintained a healthy glow and new found elasticity. afterwards enjoy a stroll or sit in the Spa Garden with stunning sea-view sun terraces.
Another choice would be to deepen your relaxation in the hydrotherapy circuit, featuring men’s and women’s private steam rooms and saunas, a sensorial shower, whirlpool bath and ice fountain. For those more energetically inclined to physical exercise Le Spa also includes indoor and outdoor fitness options, and a tea bar serving herbal teas and fresh juices.
Vast terraces beckon for outdoor relaxation under a canopy of Aleppo pines, overlooking the gardens and the sea. Even if you do not find time to enjoy a stay here why not visit reportedly one of the best bars of the Riviera, Le Bar, with its majestic Murano chandeliers, relax in the charming library with a distinctly private ambience, or even step outside to the garden terrace, offering live music every evening in high season. And if you fancy a modest exercise, the picturesque village of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is but a short stroll away along the path by the sea. For those more scientifically inclined the hotel will arrange for your exclusive, two-hour astronomy lesson with a world-renowned scientist.
As spring has sprung and we couldn’t get enough of the splendour of this place we are heading back to enjoy and celebrate the Easter weekend at the Hotel’s restaurant La Veranda which will offer a special Easter brunch served on the terrace where we will enjoy once again the breathtaking views live music entertainment and a delicious buffet with Mediterranean flavours featuring the chocolate treats of Pastry Che Gaetan Flard World Champion of Sugar Arts.
But for all the excellence this hotel has to offer the seawater swimming pool on the rocks by the tip of Cap-Ferrat is surely the most unique, setting it slightly apart from others. Here you can enjoy the calm and atmosphere of times long past, far removed from the hustle and bustle of everyday life with the Mediterranean open before you, where blue meets blue.