luxe - La Réserve, Ramatuelle
Written by Tristan Rutherford
High above St Tropez sits a hotel that pairs biodynamic cuisine with bespoke villas. Both chic and elite, this minimalist marriage between two French starchitects encompasses only 40 luxury guestrooms.
Admittedly, St Tropez has any number of scintillating hotels. They include the brand new – the sassy Hotel Sezz and the chic Hotel Muse – and the effortlessly cool such as the Hotel Pastis and the Pan Dei. Yet none marries majesty and sheer class like La Réserve. This ultra-luxe option peers down on its rivals from the hilltop retreat of Ramatuelle.
Unlike the hotels a five-minute drive away on the coast, La Réserve is a secret Mediterranean garden. By day, lavender and olives shade a mirror-flat infinity pool. By night, storm lamps and candles guide guests through a maze of scented walkways. Not that many people pad these fragrant paths however: accommodation at La Réserve is limited to just 40 villas and suites.
But what rooms they are. The main accommodation was styled by Jean-Michel Wilmotte. This French hotel architect has designed hip hotels from Monaco to Manama. The villas come courtesy of fellow Frenchman Rémi Tessier. His recent design of a 96m luxury yacht interior picked up a Superyacht of the Year award in 2012. Both marry subtle curves and walls of glass with white linen and lightwood floors. The restaurant is similarly minimalistic with its focus on fat-free Provençal dishes and healthy haute cuisine.
Guests who do have any calories to burn off can do so in the signature spa. Aside from the Technogym and the pool with swim-jet lane, it’s the treatments that really stand out. Programmes include boot camps with daily 20km hikes, and all-over Crème de la Mer body scrubs. The hotel even offers six-day body overhauls – under the supervision of a doctor and multidisciplinary team of beauticians – to those who can afford it. If nothing else, La Réserve is reassuringly expensive.
For all its designer excess, La Réserve is blissfully informal. After all, St Tropez is a resort where Kate Moss clops around in flip-flops, and where Keith Richards sports Bermuda shorts. To get into the spirit, pick up a set of pétanque boules from behind the bar at Le Café on Place des Lices. Even A-list celebrities hang out under the plane trees, while local billionaires buzz past on battered scooters.