As luxury villa rentals are becoming more and more favored among elite St. Tropez vacationers, hotels are switching to to a “villa” format.
In most of the world’s most famous and exclusive vacation destinations, hotels usually become the predominant tourist infrastructure for vacationers. Ranging from economy to ultra-high pricing, you can usually find a wide range of hotel accommodations, offered by the world’s most popular hotel chains. This is most directly seen in Florida and California in the U.S. and in places like the Algarve in Portugal as well as many of the Spanish tourist destinations.
St. Tropez, however, has always been an exception to the rule.
Because St. Tropez has always managed to retain its small-town personality — in spite of the fact that millions of people visit the town annually, there are less than 6,000 Tropéziens that live there year round — large hotel chains have never been able to fully dominate the St. Tropez vacation experience. Add to this a new movement to tear down clubs and businesses along Pampellonne Beach in order to preserve the natural beauty of St. Tropez, and it becomes even clearer why Hilton, Sheraton, or Marriott has not been able to stake a claim to its tousrist market.
The hotels that dominate St. Tropez tend to be more of the boutique hotel and bed and breakfast variety. No mega-hotels, to be sure. But what has been the strongest vacation tradition in St. Tropez are luxury villa rentals — magnificent homes on the beach or overlooking the sea that give vacationers to St. Tropez the full native Tropéziens experience. From quaintly traditional to neo-contemporary, these luxury villas span the entire spectrum of size, decor, and price.
The popularity of luxury villa rentals in St. Tropez is clearly not going away anytime soon. In fact, some luxury villa rental companies are beginning to offer luxury hotel-style services, turning the villa living experience into a combination villa-hotel vacation.
As a result, new hotels in St. Tropez are beginning to take on the look and feel of luxury villas. Take, for instance, the Hotel Sezz Saint
Tropez — the newest addition to luxury hotels in St. Tropez. At first sight, Hotel Sezz seems like many other boutique hotels in St. Tropez: 37 rooms, designed by architect Jean Jacques Ory and designer Christophe Pillet, modern architecture and décor, spa complex, champagne bar, and soon-to-be Michelin-rated gourmet restaurant headed by chef Pierre Gagnaire.
At closer look, however, the Hotel Sezz is set up more like a cluster of small luxury villas — not a “hotel complex” alla The Ritz-Carlton or Hilton. The 37 rooms are classified as bungalows (30m²), cocoons (40m²), or actual “villas” (90m² with private pool), and each of them offer direct access to the hotel’s facilities, such as the swimming pool, garden, and terrace.
The only problem is, no matter how much Hotel Sezz or any of the other boutique hotels in St. Tropez try to offer their guests the luxury villa experience, the shared, public facilities never offer the same privacy and exclusivity as a true luxury villa rental. And because luxury villa rental companies like Villazzo now offer VillaHotel services that rival the finest five star hotel services, it remains to be seen if even
these small, exclusive luxury hotels will be able to keep up with the luxury villa rental industry in St. Tropez.
Furthermore, as St. Tropez’s city council continues to move in the direction of natural preservation of the town and beach, private luxury villas will continue to be favored in new construction permits over hotel complexes, since single family dwellings ultimately offer less erosion to natural beauty and minimal increase in the use of resources.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that luxury hotels are going anywhere in St. Tropez. To be sure, many people stay in them each year and continue to keep that portion of the travel industry up and running. More and more, however, guests in these boutique hotels look to stay in luxury villa rentals for next trip to famed St. Tropez.