Regal Resorts

Writer Irvina Lew | July 4, 2018

The scenic, sunlit Riviera attracted European royalty in the mid 1800s. Vibrant luminescence lured 20th-century artists Bonnard, Chagall, Dufy, Leger, Matisse, Picasso, Renoir and Signac, whose works still dominate local museums. Ancient ports and perched villages, stone houses and grand villas facing the Mediterranean enticed the beau monde and international elite. Agapanthus-lined driveways, avocado-treed terraces and oleander and rose courtyards captivated me in 1990, when a French publisher’s book advance sponsored the first of my dozen subsequent trips. Peerless places, art museums and gastronomic meals, made with market-fresh ingredients, keep tempting me back.

Recently, a three-week stay on the Côte d’Azur introduced superlative spa services at seven stellar resort spas from Monaco westward along the coast and among the hillsides. From Nice Côte d’Azur Airport, all except Saint-Tropez are within an hour’s drive. The first is connected to a belle époque hotel overlooking the harbour in Monte Carlo; others are at a seafront Palace hotel and a gracious villa both on Cap-Ferrat; in a historic chateau in the hills above Vence; at a legendary seafront resort on Cap d’Antibes; at an expansive, backcountry golf and spa resort in Tourettes, and within a magical replica of a petit port village in Saint-Tropez. 


The gorgeous Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo is part of the Societé des Bains de Mer and a member of The Leading Hotels of the World. Indoor corridors connect it to the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo to Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo, the fabulous, four-storey, 75,000sqft spa facing the ship-shaped yacht club and mega yachts in the harbour. A heated, saltwater indoor spa pool is surrounded by reception, a fitness club, lounge, juice bar and l’Hirondelle, the spa restaurant and terrace. Three fixed menus and à la carte Cuisine Minceur, or wellness cooking, are available along with a coded chart illustrating items containing gluten, milk, eggs, fish, seafood, nuts or soy. Elegant truffle-topped scrambled eggs and tabbouleh arrived at the table; entrées, including grilled fish, are served under a silver dome. Along with La Prairie skincare, Phytomer products are used for the many Thalassotherapy, or seawater, therapies.


A path carved through rock and a funicular descend to the heated, seawater pool complex on this 17-acre, terraced-garden estate. The majestic 74-room hotel on exclusive Cap-Ferrat, between Nice and Monaco, dates from 1908, is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World and one of France’s few Palace Hotels. Constructed in 2009, La Residence has eight suites, each with a private pool. The comprehensive 8,000sqft, recently refurbished spa features a boutique, sound-proofed cabin, nail salon, Technogym-equipped fitness studio, indoor pool, hammam, ice fountain, Jacuzzi, sauna and sensation shower. The sublime duo-suite, the Grand Salon has its own whirlpool tub, hammam, sauna, shower, bathroom and private lounge. Outside three cardio-cabanas, one with a rowing machine, offer sea views. Treatments use French products by Biologique Recherche, the natural Australian botanical product Sodashi and innovative Swiss Pauline Burgener Haute Couture concept. The latter begins with a skin diagnosis, after analysis at its Swiss lab and then clients receive a summary of the results with recommended products and a customised protocol. Chef Yoric Tièche adds to the wellness agenda with a locally sourced menu with vegan, veggie and gluten-free options.


The Royal Riviera, a gracious villa at the entry of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat offers views of both the Mediterranean and the Alps. The five-star, 94-room hotel, a member of The Leading Hotels of the World,  has a family-friendly feel. Its location offers guests direct access to the 12-mile walking trail around Cap-Ferrat, leisurely strolls to the waterfront village of Saint-Jean, the Villa Euphrussi de Rothschild, with its magnificent gardens, the pastel port of Villefranche-sur-Mer and the chic town of Beaulieu-sur-Mer. New stone flooring and warm grey walls highlight the recently renovated wellness centre on a lower level; high windows let sunlight into the lounge and one of the two spa cabins. Plus there’s a sauna, hammam and a 24/7 fitness centre with Matrix and Technogym equipment. Thalgo treatments incorporate a variety of natural and Ecocert-certified organic products, such as chamomile and rose essential oils in the Mediterranean-infused Terre & Mer treatment, Polynesian white sand to exfoliate in the Tahitian vanilla scrubs and Monoi-scented oil for massages. Steps lead directly from the spa to the garden, with its heated swimming pool, private beach and Jasmin Grill. A seafood lunch on the indoor/outdoor seafront terrace boasts healthy menu choices: Thai, niçoise, Mediterranean and Greek Buddha bowl salads, tandoori prawns and fresh grilled fish first presented raw, later fileted tableside.

Peerless places, art museums and gastronomic meals, made with market-fresh ingredients, keep tempting me back