Grand Hyatt Cannes – Le Martinez sure knows how to throw great parties. The gal has never been to a Cannes Film Festival party but it cannot be any more memorable than the annual ILTM cocktail, when the lobby of the luxury hotel was central point for just under three thousand ILTM exhibitors and buyers trying to meet up with friends (deafened by the noise, the gal gave up and left them all to it – who would miss one person in all that melée? The Champagne, by the way, is still Taittinger, just as it was when the Taittinger family owned the hotel, and the toiletries in the 409 bathrooms are still Annick Goutal, owned by the Taittingers for a long time.
The following night, the Martinez threw a very different party, a seated Gala Dinner with the Stars for about two hundred of its inner circle. There were drinks in one of the hotel’s enormous reception rooms and then we moved through to another big room, its cavernous dark blue ceiling a twinkling of what seemed like fairy lights. The welcome came from Hyatt’s big branding boss, John Wallis, who spoke about his delight at meeting so many next-generation young travel agents, so enthusiastic and doing things differently (I was reminded about a highly out-of-the-box concept that has just opened in Austin TX, Departure Lounge, a day-long central-city coffee and wine bar that is staffed by fully-qualified travel agents, very clever).
So, the efforts of these culinary stars began. Each course was preceded by an absolutely brilliant video of the chef explaining preparations for making his dish. First up was Andrea Aprea, chef of Restaurant Vun in Park Hyatt Milano. He did a caprese sweet and salty, a kind bomb of lightest caprese. Watch his video here, and try it at home. This dish, he said, is a jigsaw of paradoxes and of course everyone at our table, who included Virtuoso’s lovely hotel honcho, Albert Herrera, and a coupe of top class travel agents, and Hyatt’s head of France, Michel Jauslin, wondered what Aprea meant by that. Is life one jigsaw of paradoxes or is it only a caprese? The sommelière, who introduced her chosen wines with each course, had paired this with a Castello delle Regine 2012, from Umbria.
And so the gala, which our table decided was actually an uber gala, continued. We had a video by Jean-François Rouquette, of Park Hyatt Paris’ Restaurant PUR, showing the preparation of scallops roasted with cocoa nibs, crystallised lemons, lime-foamed juice of coriander, turnip greens and Romanesco cabbage (with an organic chardonnay from Languedoc, Limoux Caretas 2012 Dme Franck Schisano). After eating said scallops, we had a video showing the Martinez’ own La Palme d’Or chef, Christian Sincropi, preparing figgatelli and 48-hour preserved lamb, with 2010 Dme des Terres Blanches St Rémy de Provence.
Finally, the last video, showing La Palme d’Or’s pastry chef, Julien Ochando, preparing a platter of citrus delicacies from Menton, that famous place east along the coast from here which has its own annual lemon festival – next date, February 15 to March 5th, 2014. This platter, drunk with Ch Latrezotte 2010 Dme Bernard Magrez-Sauternes, was absolutely irresistible. Oh what a pity this glorious occasion had to come to an end, but in fact it was not the end. Claudio Ceccherelli, larger-than-life GM of Grand Hyatt Cannes – Le Martinez, then leapt on to the stage to bring up all the stars, for a Grand Parade of Chefs.
As John Wallis says, the boss of this luxury hotel is a legend in his lifetime, and he is certainly putting his stamp on Cannes’ hotel scene. Overall, Hyatt has had a great year around the world, says John Wallis – and 2014 will be even better. June 2014 sees the opening of both Park Hyatt New York and Park Hyatt Vienna, and there are a further 13 Park Hyatts in the works. Watch this space. And with that, Claudio Ceccherelli opened the dancing.
Mumbai-born Freida Pinto is just one of the stars who graces the walls of the ground floor lounge-bar of what is now, as of April 2013, Grand Hyatt Cannes – Le Martinez. This is the luxury hotel on Cannes’ La Croisette that has been associated with stars ever since it was opened by Emmanuel Martinez way back in 1929. Its Art Deco exterior complements its salmon and grey interior (but the gal, like many others, is delighted that the current owners are going to give it a strong dose of botox to make it even more relevant for today’s celebs). Take Ms Pinto, who made her name with Slumdog Millionaire. She has two new movies coming up, Desert Dancer and Knight of Cups, and she wants the best.
Arguably India’s most quality-concerned younger generation hotelier, Pramod Ranjan was in town during ILTM and of course his wife Monisha came to visit. What do the ‘other halves’ do during ILTM, I wonder? Some, like Anita Ohri, wife of the Lebua CEO Deepak Ohri, shop till they drop. Annie Krooswijk joins her husband, Tom Krooswijk, for all meal breaks and social events (she is a creative force, young Annie – it was she who coined the name Bord’eau for Hotel De L’Europe’s fine dining restaurant, which gained its second Michelin star a couple of weeks ago). I suspect that Monisha Ramdan spends much of her ‘spouse time’ doing yoga.
The Martinez has long had a tradition that it hosts the official ILTM post-dinner cocktail, where Taittinger flows as if there were no tomorrow. Goodness knows what time those jollifications finish but once they do, decorators move in and, by breakfast time, where a champagne pyramid stood last night, now there are Christmas decorations. In the main, the fashion along the Riviera for Christmas 2013 is for all-white, or even colourless decorations, but here there are green trees. At least it gives the concierge desk something to look at. For those Martinez loyalists who might wonder, there are as yet few signs of Hyatt, other than a discreet sign outside the main door.
Really, the people who work in this 409-room hotel are amazing. The morning after the ILTM party here there seemed to be twice as many maids as usual, cleaning and dusting, dusting and cleaning. There is something about French maids, by the way – they are all so chic, with immaculate coiffures and make-up. I remember James Smith, then GM of the much-missed Hong Kong Hilton, who always had a maid cleaning the escalator, quite unnecessarily of course, going up to the Grill, so popular with top business tycoons at lunch. It is psychology, stupid (on a tangent once again, I am reading about the psychological nudge being promoted by the UK government – let people know that so-many-percent in the same tax bracket have paid their tax, and the response goes up).
Yes, the Martinez team, which rises from 200 to double that number at such peak times as the Cannes Film Festival and, of course, ILTM, is amazing. Everyone smiles. I go into breakfast and Florence not only knows my favourite table but my favourite food, and the egg chef prepares your omelette and brings it to the table. There is no problem with quality of product, either – the yoghurts are Ferme des Peupliers, for example. If you a breakfast meeting person during ILTM, the Martinez is definitely the top venue: no wait, charming staff and plenty of space between tables. If you are keen to practise your rugby scrum techniques, opt for the Majestic.
There is one special thing on the tables at the Martinez, by the way. Through December 16th, 2013, all Hyatt luxury hotels in France are partnering with Evian on a ‘support the Philippines’ initiative. Michel Jauslin, whose son is half Filipino, spent many years in Manila and he loves the city, and the country. He has persuaded Evian that for each bottle of Evian bought in one of Hyatt France’s restaurants, Evian will send two bottles of water to the Philippines relief fund (is it true that some business people, to help the cause further, are ordering ten bottles at once?).
Simply Sunday. The other day, at the opening Forum of the International Luxury Travel Market ILTM in Cannes, I was asked what luxury is. This is an impossible question to answer in one sentence so I came up with ‘your plane takes off and arrives on time, and if there is one empty seat on it it is next to you, and when you arrive there is a beautiful sunset – you must have at least a bit of nature included in luxury’. Lots of people commented afterwards (interesting travel agent guru Valerie Wilson said she did not agree about the air travel but perhaps she always flies by private plane).
Anyway, dear readers, this is a sunset GirlAhead found as she ran along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice…. have a lovely Sunday.