Archive for 2010
When most people think of St. Tropez, they think of summer; maybe visiting for a couple of weeks in July or for a month at the beach in August, which is Europe’s traditional time for vacations. While the Cote d’Azur is undoubtedly beautiful in the high summer months, it can also be quite hot, congested, and expensive. An alternative to jostling among the summer crowds for a beach chair or restaurant reservation is to book a luxury villa rental and head to St. Tropez as the busy summer season draws to a close. The weather at this time is still mild and the atmosphere is decidedly more casual, two of the reasons The Guardian just named St. Tropez one of their Top 10 choices for autumn sunshine vacations, together with such gorgeous places as Sardinia and Dahab.
|Beat the Crowds – Visit St. Tropez in Autumn|
So why choose fall over summer? For a variety of reasons, the first of which is the weather. Instead of sweltering heat you will be able to enjoy much more moderate temperatures of around 25C while sunning yourself by the pool at your luxury villa rental or taking a stroll in St. Tropez’s town center. Browse through the luxury shops or stop for brunch without being inundated by the summer crowds of jet-set vacationers and gawkers. As The Guardian notes, St. Tropez, the “summer playground of the glitterati, the flashiest seaside resort in the Côte d’Azur takes on a whole new identity come autumn…Most of the crowds are long gone, leaving behind a more laid-back town. Beaches which are usually packed are blissfully quiet, as are its posh boutiques.” So if you really want to enjoy St. Tropez without the bother, then visiting in the autumn could definitely be the right choice for you.
|Annual Autumn Event: The Voiles de St. Tropz – Photo via|
If you do decide to book an autumn getaway in St. Tropez, then a luxury villa rental, complete with VillaHotel service, (think five-star hotel then add a star, gorgeous grounds and complete privacy) is really the way to go. Of course, if you ever get tired of hanging around your own private paradise, there will still be lots to do in town, from the less busy beaches to new restaurants like Pierre Gagnaire’s Colette in the new Hotel Sezz. So forget the crowds and the sweltering sun–choose autumn for your stay in St. Tropez.
The land of sea and sun, St. Tropez is where the wealthy go to get away from it all for a few blissful weeks every summer. Many yearn to be part of the St. Tropez scene and go about booking their vacations well in advance to ensure they will be sipping champagne beachside with the stars come out in July. Unfortunately, for several U.K. families recently, dreams of a fantasy vacation were dashed when they realized the deposits they put down on what they thought were luxury villa rentals were gone. Their money stolen and the villas they rented not in existence, these victims are now beside themselves as to what to do next. This vacation scam is becoming all too common and reinforces the need to book your luxury villa rental vacation through a reputable firm that not only knows St. Tropez well, but personally inspects each luxury rental villa to ensure your vacation will be the perfect, stress free getaway you’ve been dreaming of.
According to Britain’s Daily Mail the St. Tropez villa fraud is one of the biggest of its kind in recent memory, with over £250,000 having been stolen from unsuspected travellers yearning to join the jet set on the Cote d’Azur, and others still looking to vacation in Spain or Austria. The newspaper spoke to one couple, Claudia and Keith Louch, who lost £10,000 on a St. Tropez luxury villa rental for a family reunion. Only after arriving in France and driving to look for the villa did Claudia Louch and her husband realize that there had never been a villa at all. Understandably upset, the couple had to call their other family members to cancel the vacation, many of them being forced to lose the price of their plane tickets when they cancelled at the last minute. Worse still for people like Claudia Louch, travel insurance doesn’t generally cover these types of situations.
The problem that many of these duped vacationers are reporting is not being able to tell the real from the fake. The ads they found were on reputable websites that are, however, just listing pages for villa advertising — not a company that checks on the validity of the ads. In many cases ,the villas were also offered at a suspiciously reduced rate, making them irresistible for those who long to enjoy the St. Tropez lifestyle. Now that the truth has been revealed, of course, it seems more of a case of getting what you paid for in the most unfortunate way.
|St. Tropez at Night|
A solution for those longing for the experience of a luxury rental villa in St. Tropez, but don’t want to worry about who they are handing over their money to, is to go through a reputable rental company. There are only a handful of truly specialized luxury villa rental providers in the exclusive St. Tropez area, and you want to look for one where the managers check each property before the keys are handed over to guests. The reputable firms are also well versed in the local culture. Aside from this intimate knowledge of St. Tropez, these reputable rental companies also offer “value added” services that make you feel as though you are sleeping in a hotel, but with a ton much more luxury. Think gaggles more privacy, gorgeous grounds, a refreshing pool, and a staff that can cater to your needs just as if you were staying at an upscale hotel. A win, win it seems.
Most long for the pristine beaches and vibrant nightlife of St. Tropez, but if you’re planning to head out to the Cote d’Azur take care where you decide to stay. Many would understandably prefer a luxury rental villa over a hotel for their stay, but choosing the right one is fraught with pitfalls as the stories out of the U.K. tell us. If you want worry free vacationing then turn to a reputable villa rental company, which will work around the clock to ensure your stay is not only as perfect as possible, but tha you never want to leave.
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.
St. Tropez is known as a place of glamorous excess, where the rich frolic in the sunshine and party well into the night. In the past it was also quite famous for its topless beaches, a Cote d’Azur tradition that seems to be in decline in recent years. Vacationers from yacht owners to those staying in luxury villa rentals will have noticed that fewer and fewer women are daring to bare their breasts lately. French sociologist Jean-Claude Kaufmann has been following the issue since the 1990s and has published books about his findings. Kaufmann has recently updated his old data with interviews with a new generation of women and has not only confirmed the trend, but has attempted to work out the reasons for the cultural shift.
Only fifteen years ago, when Kaufmann first conducted a study on the popularity of toplessness on the Cote d’Azur, he found that the majority embraced le monokini (bottoms only) for their beach wear. The style was especially popular in St. Tropez where topless and nude beaches have been all the rage since they were introduced in the 1960s. Tahiti Beach, for instance, is constantly showing up on Top 10 Lists, from one of the best beaches on the Cote d’Azur to one of the world’s top nude beaches. The secluded Plage de Tahiti is located about four kilometers from St. Tropez’s city center and can be found along the north part of famous Pampelonne Beach. Yet, even on beaches where topless women were once everywhere, a marked downturn can be seen. The recent trends in swimwear–like the cut-out one pieces so popular in 2010 and seen in St. Tropez on the likes of Paris Hilton–also seem to support this new keep-the-top-on modesty.
|Kate Hudson debuted an array of stylish cover ups in St. Tropez this summer.|
Kaufmann’s new interviews have led him to draw the conclusion that, “cultural reference points have completely changed in the last fifteen years. What was once fashionable has now become old-fashioned, and young women in particular no longer think twice about stigmatizing in a very emphatic manner the ‘old women of 50’ who dare to take off their bikini tops.” Furthermore the sociologist has found the reasons for this new way of thinking include keeping a semblance of modesty as a form of seduction, the fear of skin cancer and out-and-out shyness.
According to RUE89, which published an article based on Kaufmann’s findings, it is not nudity itself that makes modern women blanch, but outright public nudity. “A tiny inlet or by a river or somewhere like that where there’s only me and maybe some people I know very well,” one woman told the publication about where she would be comfortable bearing it all. “I don’t feel at ease on a beach.” It seems that the current generation of women would be much more comfortable going topless poolside at a secluded luxury villa rental rather than a crowded St. Tropez beach.
While toplessness in the 60s was a sign of the Love Generation revolution and women’s lib, this new modesty seems to be the take of the new feminists who, while comfortable with their own bodies, prefer to only show them in more private places, like around the private swimming pool of a luxury villa rental. While everyone has their own ideas about what is fun and appropriate it seems that more and more women are choosing to cover up when in the glaring sun and the public eye.
Locals from yacht owners to luxury villa rental vacationers anticipate proposed eco-inspired changes to one of the world’s most exclusive strips of sand
Well-heeled jet setters look forward to their summers in St. Tropez and don’t mind paying exorbitant sums for sun chairs, not to mention hundreds of euros for drinks and food, at the exclusive local beach clubs in the area. While this has made St. Tropez a glamorous haunt for the rich and famous for decades now, that the glitzy nightlife of St. Tropez’s club scene is now threatened by a new ruling by the council that oversees the area. These exclusive clubs, like the famed Club 55 on Pampelonne beach, are facing being shut down in the light of this ruling and are making the option of a private pool in your own luxury villa rental seem like a better option every day.
|According to The Australian, the council of Ramatuelle, which rules over matters that affect the St. Tropez area, has decided that the beach clubs that cater to the likes of Paris Hilton and Eva Longoria Parker are an environmental hazard. The twenty-seven businesses located on celebrated Pampelonne beach are thought to be damaging the nature in the region. The plan is to reduce the businesses on the stretch to twenty-one and to make the structures both smaller and portable, so that they can be packed away in the winter months. Not surprisingly this has both the business owners and locals, many of whom depend on tourist dollars for their livelihoods, steaming mad.|
|The chairwoman of the owners’ association, Carole Balligand, spoke to The Australian about her outrage at the proposed changes. According to the paper, Save Pampellone, Balligand’s organization, is not going away without a fight and is determined to block the proposed changes, which will not only change the look of the beach, but will also turn this land of sun and relaxation into a building site for the foreseeable future. For now only questions remain–about whether this proposal will indeed go forward and what, if anything, this means for businesses and vacationers in St. Tropez in the future–and will only be answered by the final ruling, which will be made by the French government.
Regardless of the decision that is made, it seems clear that St. Tropez will always be a favourite vacation spot for those looking for a little glamour and exclusivity to go with their sun and sand. Perhaps, though, it will mean pulling up stakes from the beaches, and leaving the €20 beach chairs behind, for some real privacy and first class service at a luxury villa rental, where a pool can be enjoyed without the threat of cranes or protests.
Find out what a portion of water will cost you in the land of stars, sand, and luxury villa rentals
Ever since Bardot turned the world’s eyes on St. Tropez in the 1950s, the area has been a beacon to the rich, famous, and those who’d like to be. So it’s no surprise that when Wealth Bulletin came out with their list of most expensive places to dock a superyacht, St. Tropez was not only on the list, but in the top five. While the Italians have the lock on the first three priciest yacht spots, the report makes it clear that saving yourself a berth in one of the marinas of St. Tropez won’t come cheap. And with only thirty mega-yacht berths available, throughout the St. Tropez waterway, both price and space are making staying on a yacht for a St. Tropez vacation prohibitive for even the world’s most lavish travelers.
In compiling their report, the Wealth Bulletin used a 230-foot yacht, the longest length that some exclusive marinas will allow, as theirsample. To be as accurate as possible, the prices cited do not include dates of high activity in certain ports like the film festival in Cannes or Monaco’s F1 race.
So how much will it cost you, exactly, to moor a 230-foot vessel in St. Tropez? €1,300 a day.
And with just thirty mega-yacht berths available, the peak periods of June through August for the Cote d’Azur are consistently booked, which is why vacationers to St. Tropez routinely see yachts dotting the bay’s azure horizon.
Considering the high percentage of yacht-wielding socialites, celebrities, and otherwise wealthy jetsetters, it might seem strange that so few berths are made available by the St. Tropez port authority, especially considering that it is one of the most famous ports in the world for luxury travel. But size, quality, and environmental considerations play key factors in limiting the number of yachts allowed in St. Tropez’ bay at one time.
First off, the bay is quite small compared to others: while the U.S.’s vacation-oriented Chesapeake Bay stretches 200 mi (322 km) long by 30 mi (48 km) wide, the Gulf of St. Tropez’s coastline is only 7.45 mi (12 km) long by comparison, allowing for only a limited number of safe berths for large yachts.
In addition to the limitations in size, the St. Tropez port authority also seeks to limit the number of yachts in the bay in order to control water pollution as well as unsightly boat traffic.
Of course, there are even more expensive places to moor your yacht in Europe.
Seven of the top ten marinas can be found in Europe with the most expensive, in Capri, costing €2,900 ($3,914 U.S.) per night. The bargain of the bunch? Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island Marina at €421 per night. Of course, these costs don’t include all the other annual expenses that go along with owning a yacht, which can run up to about twenty percent of the vessel’s total value.
Despite the high cost of owning a yacht and anchoring it in St. Tropez, the berths in these high-end marinas are always full and often taken by boldfaced names. If you’ve booked a yacht or luxury vacation villa in St. Tropez this summer you’ll be sunning yourself alongside the likes of Paris Hilton, who has been seen jumping off her yacht Tatoosh and getting sprayed with champagne on club roofs in the middle of the day.
Paris Hilton aside, for many of the elite travelers to St. Tropez, it’s becoming much more comfortable and convenient to book a luxury villa rental instead. With gorgeous grounds and round-the-clock service, luxury villa rentals in St. Tropez offer just as much luxury service and amenities as any superyacht, but with the added bonus of being much closer to the beaches and center of town. Getting into town from a yacht, after all, requires an inconvenient ride to shore on a dingy.
What’s more, you’re guaranteed to find ten times as many luxury villa rentals to choose from in and around St. Tropez, compared to only thirty slots for yachts in the St. Tropez bay. So, if you’re ready to experience the full luxury of St. Tropez, spend your time there in a luxury villa hotel and simply enjoy the yachts from a distance.
Although the new trend in St. Tropez is supposedly “authentic luxury,” the new crop of ultra-contemporary hotels there seem to be out of place. But this luxury villa really combines a modern interior with a traditional exterior for total luxury throughout.
Search the web about St. Tropez these days and you’ll come across a lot of coverage about the new boutique hotels that have been appearing there, just in time for the peak summer season. The Muse Hotel has made a lot of news: with its 15 little “villas,” its layout is supposedly a reflection of the trend toward traditional, authentic St. Tropez luxury , much in the way that Bardot discovered it back in the day.
But these new hotels are about as authentic and traditional as the Guggenheim Art Museum.
The manager of the Muse recently was quoted as saying, “We want to build a brand of boutique hotels that offer refinement and culture and puts excellent Asian service into a French cocoon.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but Asian service — regardless of what you may think of it personally — is most certainly not going to give you an authentic St. Tropez experience.
Similar questions can be raised about the other new players in the St. Tropez boutique hotel market: La Réserve Ramatuelle is another contemporary art masterpiece — impressive, no doubt, but about as quintessentially St. Tropez as Disney World.
The fact is, luxury villas are the only real option for experiencing St. Tropez the way it used to be. And what’s for, if you still have a thirst for contemporary decor, you can both.
Set amid the rugged terrain of the countryside, VillaHotel Imana offers an exquisite blend of traditional French elegance with modern décor and amenities. Private, garden-lined terraces invite you spend your days outside on the manicured lawn or pristine, Olympic sized pool, or entertain into the night with an outdoor barbeque and covered lounge.
This luxury villa features large windows and an open floor plan that give you an exceptional view of the gardens, pool, and outdoors around every turn of VillaHotel Imana, while the villa’s traditional exterior design gives way to sleek, minimalist contemporary décor inside. In addition, the living and dining rooms as well as the 4 bedrooms and en-suite bathrooms are all remarkably unified in their furniture and decoration, offering a mix of artistry and comfort. The kitchen and bathrooms all feature contemporary appliances and fixtures that will captivate your senses, while the rest of VillaHotel Imana offers plenty of space and comfort.
And because the VillaHotel Imana features Villazzo’s industry-leading VillaHotel services, you get the perfect combination of five-star hotel services with the comfort and privacy of a traditional luxury villa in St. Tropez.
So, if you’re looking to experience the authentic St. Tropez holiday, be sure to choose a luxury villa like the VillaHotel Imana — it’ll give you the best of both worlds.
Luxury villas are a dime a dozen in Miami Beach, and few really stand out among the crowd. But Villazzo’s V Villa Julia’s design, décor,
and features bring the very best that Miami Beach has to offer to your own vacation experience.
Few luxury villas in Miami Beach capture the sun, sea, and warmth quite like V Villa Julia. Decorated in bright, inviting textures and featuring an open design both inside and out, this luxury villa lets in the light and natural beauty of this 5 bedroom, 5 bathroom bayside property seep into your luxury vacation. Large windows highlight the living and dining areas as well as the kitchen and bedrooms, giving you an enchanting view of the bay, pool, and terrace night and day. Luxurious bedrooms with sitting areas and en suite bathrooms making going to sleep and waking up a pleasure.
Outside, V Villa Julia luxury villa features a multi-level terrace – perfect for outside dining and entertaining – as well as a vanishing edge pool with cascading waterfall, barbeque area, and a bayside dock. And because it’s just 5 minutes from the beach, V Villa Julia has everything you need from a luxury villa to experience the very best of Miami Beach.
In recent years, the contemporary design movement has overtaken Miami Beach, and though this exclusive neighborhood of luxury villas boast modern, sprawling, mansion-sized homes, many of them appear as pastiche recreations of authentic contemporary Miami properties. Julia, however, features a layout that is seldom seen in recent luxury villas in Miami Beach: it connects the interior with the exterior by way of its capacious windows and tasteful decor.
Around every corner, you’ll find a minimalist yet inviting set of furniture, housewares, and design elements, most of which are done in white or beige. This bright, blank color palette, however, perfectly complements the rich, colorful palette of the outside landscape, which pours into virtually every square foot of this luxury villa by way of its windows. As you can see from the photo to the right, palm trees, blue skies, and the bay serve as the color throughout V Villa Julia.
Article by Michael Nace
The recent opening of the Muse Hotel in St. Tropez illustrates how luxury villa rentals have the set the tone for exclusive vacationing along the French Riviera.
Although the resort town of St. Tropez is world-famous, it still remains a small, quant town that is dominated less by mega hotels and more by exclusive luxury villa rental properties. Perhaps that is why the most recent hotel launch in St. Tropez was not a massive Hilton, Ritz Carlton, or Four Seasons, but rather the botique Muse Hotel. Located on the Ramtatuelle ‘route de plages’ road, the Muse is minutes from the Place de Lices as well as the famous sunny beaches and azure waters of St. Tropez. However, the Muse isn’t catering to throngs of average vacation goes, but rather the same set of wealthy, famous jet-setters who would otherwise stay in a private luxury villa rental.
With only 15 villa-style rooms and a wealth of luxury features that are designed to appeal to people looking for a luxury villa experience, the small villas at the Muse feature large walk in closets, luxurious, spa-like bathrooms, and the latest in-room technology, including a 42” Loewe plasma screen with over 100 channels, Playstation, an iPad, and and iPhone. Add to this a list of exclusive guest services, such as Bentley shuttles to the beaches, butlers, and other hospitality, and you get a perfect synthesis of hotel and luxury villa rental.
Services like these, however, are not a new idea in St. Tropez vacationing, but rather a reaction to keep up with the burgeoning luxury villa rental industry there.
The fact is, luxury villa rentals in St. Tropez have boasted hotel-like services along with their privacy, luxury, and exclusivity for years. In recent years, luxury villa rental companies such as Villazzo have taken the promise of offering luxury villa rentals with five-star hotel services even further by creating “VillaHotels.” These VillaHotels offer the same level of exceptional services that you’d find in a small boutique hotel, while offering a level of privacy that a hotel simply cannot offer.
Because these luxury villa rentals have become increasingly popular, hotels in St. Tropez have gone out of their way to make their premises and facilities feel as much like a real luxury villa as possible. The result, however, has been met with mixed results: many wealthy and famous visitors to St. Tropez seek larger, private amenities, away from the thousands of gawking vacationers. Hotels — no matter how private and exclusive — simply cannot offer the level of privacy and service that this level of clientele is searching for.
So, as you read more and more about these villa-style boutique hotels opening up in the French Riviera, remember that the true VillaHotel experience can only be gotten by staying in a luxury villa rental that offers comprehensive, 5-star hotel services.
Article by Michael Nace