The Givenchy Spa at the Hotel Martinez in Cannes, France
L , tout n est qu ordre et beaut ,
Luxe, calme, et volupt .
Every student of high school French has encountered the challenge of trying to translate the refrain from Charles Baudelaire s famous poem Invitation au Voyage. It s hard enough to find a word that conveys the seductiveness of volupt pleasure? Delight? But even the word luxury, which seems like an exact equivalent, can hardly take in the sense of the French luxe a heady mix of taste, wealth, and comfort, with just a soup on of the unattainable such as awaits guests of the Hotel Martinez in Cannes on the French Riviera.
Overlooking the gracious beachfront promenade and the amazingly blue Bay of Cannes, this sleek, white jazz-era palace at 73, boulevard de La Croisette has long been the most fashionable address on the C te d Azur to Europe s jet set, and was recently ranked #2 in Luxury Resorts Worldwide by the readers of Departures magazine. In addition, the hotel s two-star Palme d Or restaurant, named for the grand prize of the Cannes Film Festival, the Golden Palm, is the highest-rated dining room in this very posh town. Two stars may not sound that awesome to the average American, but in France, even one Michelin star is enough to make a chef s fame and fortune.
Step inside and you ve arrived, as the multi-lingual staff instantly learns your name. The gleaming marble floor in tones of beige and the cutting-edge contemporary furnishings harmonize perfectly with the hotel s art deco bone structure. Order and beauty, indeed.
Stroll around town shopping at the dozens of ultra-chic boutiques, or have a drink at a sidewalk cafe and you ll quickly get caught up in watching the passing parade: convertible Rolls-Royces jockeying for a parking space, impossibly well-behaved little dogs accompanied by impeccably-dressed women in impossibly high heels, perhaps a famous face hiding behind dark sunglasses. Of course, during the Cannes Film Festival, people-watching goes big league, as La Croisette becomes the French equivalent of the red carpet at the Oscars. It s not long before you realize that if you re taking in the scene from one of the preferred vantage points like the poolside cafe at the Hotel Martinez– you re not just watching, you ve become part of the show.
Of course, you can just as easily sun and be seen at Zplage, the Hotel Martinez s private beach area, where Nature encounters civilization head on. Enjoy the sun and the azure from a deck chair on the 2500 square foot floating platform or recline in a tent lounge and sip fresh fruit cocktails while perusing your morning newspaper. A delicious healthy lunch awaits at Zplage kitchens grilled fish and vegetables or perhaps an open sandwich of country ham and fresh goat cheese.
After that kind of exertion, anyone might feel the need to unwind at the spa. The Spa Givenchy is on the seventh floor of the hotel, and just taking the elevator up you re climbing into the rarified air of the Prestige floor. The hotel recently spent over 12.5€ million on renovations to this floor alone, creating the 8500 square foot Givenchy Spa, 11 Junior Suites, and two incredible Panoramic Suites that are among the largest and most luxurious anywhere in Europe.
Over 800 square feet in size, the Junior Suites are furnished with sleek, contemporary designs, not to mention the latest in entertainment technology plasma screen TV s, DVD, and stereo all discreetly hidden. Original lithographs by Dufy, Picasso, Braque, St el adorn the walls; the gorgeous marble bath has both a jet-tub and a shower. Dine or recline on the 300 square foot terrace, with a view of the city and the sea.
But when it comes to true luxe, there is always something above and beyond, and at the Hotel Martinez, it s the two Panoramic Suites. Over 5000 square feet each, they re a glimpse into the world of the ultra-wealthy, with every amenity imaginable touch screens and plasma TVs that pop up, a complete office from which to run your empire. Separate dressing areas open into dramatic bathrooms with steam shower and a hydrotherapy tub. There is also an outdoor whirlpool on the 2,500 square foot terrace with a dead-on view of the Bay of Cannes. You truly feel like you re on top of the world in this Rooftop Villa as the locals would call it. And, as these magnificent suites are designed for entertaining, there s a private ma tre d hotel on call 24 hours a day. Up here, you really are just a little closer to heaven, and well within reach of the stars.
The hotel s latest addition to luxury is the Suite des Oliviers down on the second floor (which is called the premi re tage or first floor in French), with an enormous terrace overlooking the Bay of Cannes. With a swimming pool surrounded by teak decking, a dining area, umbrellas and lounges, and butler service, it s like being on a great, big yacht. Before the suite was even completed, Metro Goldwyn Mayer studios secured it for this year s Cannes Film Festival for its posh party potential.
Opened in 2003, the Givenchy Spa is a splendid, elegant space with gleaming beige marble in the reception and the changing areas and saunas. The modest-sized fitness center has the latest in cardio and weight training equipment and huge plasma screen TVs that show programs in half a dozen languages. It opens onto a private, fenced terrace garden where you can actually work out or just relax.
With 8 treatment rooms and 14 estheticians and massage therapists, the Spa Givenchy is intimate in size, which only adds to its aura of exclusivity. The select menu of facials, massages, wraps, and body treatments offers a mix of the pleasurable and the esthetic. Massages range from the classic Swedish (120€) to the ultra-indulgent four-hand massage, with a couple of offerings borrowed from America, like the Canyon Love Stone Therapy (135€) and the Lomi Lomi massage (130€) done to rhythmic Hawaiian music, but with exclusive Givenchy oils. Another option that seems much more indigenous is the Slimming Massage (120€) which threatens to mobilize fat accumulations through stretching and skin rolling. New treatments like the wrinkle-fighting No Surgetics Facial (110€) and the firming No Complex Body treatment (115€) take full advantage of the exclusive Givenchy product line.
How could I not try the body treatment called Exclusively Givenchy (160€), described on the English side of the menu as the ultimate body pampering and in the French version as a soin essentiel, a translation gap that made me smile? The 120-minute experience is really three treatments in one, beginning with a gommage or body scrub with Cr me Exfoliante Givenchy, a rich granular cream that hydrates as it exfoliates. I took note of the expertise with which the therapist massaged in the exfoliant and remarked upon it later, while chatting with Spa Manager Patricia Bursac. She credited the supplemental months of training in Spa Givenchy procedures given to all estheticians, masseurs, and masseuses.
Once exfoliated from head to toe (okay, neck to sole), I rinsed the product residue off in the shower, the therapist having first covered the floor with a thick towel so I would not slip. Next, I discovered the Ferrari of bathtubs, a huge, programmable Doyer. Its 180 powerful jets activate in sequence, zetzing first the feet, then the calf muscles, thighs, hips, back, shoulders, neck, and then back to the feet. Wow!
After that, I hardly thought I could get any more relaxed, but I w
surely glad I didn t have to mobilize and get dressed yet. The final phase of the Exclusif Givenchy is a hydrating wrap, done while you recline on a waterbed, which massages your body with a series of targeted jets. I emerged from this incredible treatment recognizing the simultaneous truth of the French and English descriptions it is both the ultimate in body pampering and absolutely essential.
My other half treated himself to the 80-minute Deep Cleansing Facial (130€), which was recommended for men who don t care for their skin on a regular basis. His French vocabulary doesn t extend much beyond croissant and clair, but that was no problem, as the esthetician spoke some English, as does the entire spa staff.
After being cleansed, exfoliated, steamed, extracted, mask-ed, and moisturized, he came out looking wonderfully fresh. It s amazing how easily a guy who usually shaves, showers, and gets dressed in less than 8 minutes can be seduced by a little luxe, calme, et volupt .
It should come as no surprise that the Hotel Martinez is expensive, with high season rates prevailing in August and during festivals, which include the Cannes Film Festival, the Grand Prix of Monaco as well as a dozen other events throughout the year. In peak summer season, the rack rate for a Hill View room is 490€ a night, a Prestige Sea View room is 830€ a night, and Penthouse suites go from 5,000€ to 24,000€ a night. In the off-season, January-April and October-December, the same accommodations are 260€, 380€, and 2,000-10,000€ a night respectively.
Spa packages offer superb value when available. One-night packages start at 330€ per room for one spa treatment, access to hotel facilities (fitness center, sauna, outdoor heated pool, and private beach), and breakfast–either continental breakfast from room service or a sumptuous breakfast buffet in the restaurant. A similar package with two spa treatments and a Prestige Sea View room costs 590€.
The Well-Being Package, available through the end of April, includes overnight accommodations, breakfast, lunch at the Relais Martinez, and two treatments at the Givenchy Spa–a one-hour Relaxing Facial and a half-hour massage–starting at 232€ per person per night.
Available until the end of 2005, the Pleasure of the Senses Package proposes a three-day treatment program at the Givenchy Spa along with three nights in a Prestige Sea View room, breakfast, a restaurant credit of 150€ per person, and a VIP welcome gift with champagne, in which may figure the brands Taittinger, Baccarat, and Annick Goutal, as they are all part of the same luxury-brand empire that owns the hotel. Treatments at the Givenchy Spa are: Day One Herbal Wrap and Lomi-Lomi massage; Day Two Choice of massage (1 hour), Foot Reflexology, and a Relaxing Facial; Day Three choice of massage. The package starts at 1,305€ for a single room and 1,905€ for a double.
The Givenchy Spa also offers several treatments packages, such as the Half Day (175€) with a hydrotherapy bath, choice of massage, and an Herbal Wrap. For 250€, the Journ e Beaut or full day of beauty includes the Exclusively Givenchy body treatment, the Fundamental Care Facial, and a manicure.
Though most American travelers fly into Paris, there are some direct flights from the U.S. to Nice available through Delta or Air France, as well as numerous connecting flights. From Paris, you can also take a high-speed train, or TGV, either from Charles de Gaulle airport or from the Gare de Lyon in the center of Paris; you ll reach Cannes in under six hours.
When last checked, one euro, or 1€ =$1.30. See www.xe.com for latest rates.
– Hotel Martinez: www.hotel-martinez.com or www.lhw.com or call Leading Hotels of the World at (800) 223-6800.
– Givenchy Products: www.givenchy.com
– France tourist information: www.franceguide.com
– Air: www.airfrance.com or www.delta.com
– Trains: www.raileurope.com or www.sncf.com
– Bathtub: www.stas-doyer-hydrotherapy.com