28 Sep Heaven is a Place on Earth
I hadn’t been to the south of France for many years and so the opportunity to accompany six luxury tour operators on an educational to this stunning five star resort and spa was simply too good to turn down. The Cote D’Azur was even more vivid and beautiful than I had remembered and as we took the picturesque coastal road from Nice airport alongside the sparkling Mediterranean, the sky seemed to be competing with the sea for blueness.
We arrived at lunchtime to a warm welcome and a chilled glass of champagne while we took in the breathtaking views that greeted us in the lobby. White muslin curtains blew gently in the lovely breeze, bringing the outside in to the cool, contemporary reception area. A neutral palette of whites, creams and soft pebble colours combine with natural textures, like leather, local stone, terracotta and glass, to provide the perfect contrast to the vivid blues and greens of the rugged coastal landscape. There is no formal check-in to interrupt the immediate feeling of calm and relaxation that pervades as soon as you set foot in the hotel, so we enjoyed taking our time to savour our surroundings and La Reserve’s faultless hospitality. I cannot remember a more leisurely or pleasant arrival.
A ‘light’ lunch with deputy manager Veronique – and visiting counterpart from La Reserve Geneva, Claudine – proved to be an equally leisurely affair as several courses of delicious fish, chicken and salads were served in the light and airy La Voile restaurant. All accompanied by a crisp local Rose wine that looked as good as it tasted, in a beautifully decorated bottle.
Food at La Reserve Ramatuelle is fresh, natural, organic and healthy. Clean eating and general wellbeing is an important part of the philosophy here, but don’t let the idea of a ‘healthy menu’ put you off. This food is seriously scrumptious and incredibly creative. Two Michelin-starred chef, Eric Canino, manages to make the most saintly ingredients taste wickedly indulgent – it’s the dream combination. If only we could take him home!
After a longer than expected lunch (after all, what’s the rush?), we were treated to a memorable massage in the super-stylish spa. Gleaming white walls and surfaces again provide the perfect foil to the brilliant blues of the scenery that can be seen from every treatment room, thanks to large windows and lots of glass everywhere. Products used here include those from Swiss brand Nescens, which focuses on better aging, and beauty editors’ favourite, Crème de La Mer. I can thoroughly recommend the signature ‘better-aging body massage’ that left me floating back to our truly fabulous five-bedroom villa in a blissful state. I might not have looked 10 years younger after just 90 minutes, but I definitely felt it.
So, the villa…there are no words! If you’ve never witnessed a room of silent travel professionals before, you should bring them to Villa 19, it really is breath (and speech) taking. One of 16 villas here – ranging from three to six bedroom, each different from the next – ours had five bedrooms and had recently been completely refurbished. The view from the huge living room, and two of the main bedrooms is spectacular, looking out as it does across a terraced seating area, sparkling infinity pool and perfect manicured lawns, down to the Mediterranean beyond.
We were all amazed at how big the villa was with four, more-than-generous double rooms and one twin-bedded room, each with their own state-of-the-art bath and/or shower room en-suite. The kitchen is fully equipped and, again, HUGE, with a range-style cooker, excellent coffee maker, giant fridge and separate wine chiller for all that lovely Rose. Plus, there’s a large dining table leading straight off the kitchen area for great dinner parties and family lunches.
The beauty of the villas at La Reserve is that you can self-cater, order home delivery from the hotel’s Michelin-starred chef, or pop into the picture-postcard village of Ramatuelle for a bite to eat at one of the charming (and extremely good) restaurants there. I can personally recommend La Forge after a wonderful meal on our first night. All that, and the glamour and buzz of St Tropez and its famous beach clubs just a 15 minute drive away, makes for the perfect holiday home-from-home.
Every villa has the services of a housekeeper for six hours a day who will happily prepare breakfast out on the terrace, afternoon tea and take care of the all the general household duties, including laundry. On the second morning, we also booked for one of the Personal Trainers from the spa to come up to the villa at 8am for a yoga and stretch session in the sunshine around the pool. It was a great way to start the day and while we worked out, a delicious organic breakfast of fresh fruits, warm, nutty breads, pancakes and granola was prepared and served on the terrace as our reward. Sounds wonderful, right? But the great thing is if you don’t want to be disturbed by anybody, just leave a sign on the door, or call down to the hotel, and you’ll be left in total peace.
It’s not hard to imagine a family or group of friends living here really comfortably for a couple of weeks, or even longer – it’s just such an easy place to be. Stunning, exclusive and totally private, yet completely understated and unpretentious in any way. That pretty much sums up the whole experience at La Reserve Ramatuelle. I cannot wait to return.