Luxury Hotels

Majestic Barriere is hub during the annual ILTM luxury event

Valerie Wilson accepts her award

Majestic Barrière is the closest luxury hotel to Palais des Festivals et des Congres, where International Luxury Travel Market ILTM is held.  For the most hectic days of ILTM, therefore, it makes sense for the gal to be based there. ILTM starts, as always, with a Global Forum, and this year’s was, arguably, the best-ever. After superbly inspirational presentations by ILTM’s creative Portfolio Director Alison Gilmore, Swedish economist Dr Kjell Nordström, Wunderman Thompson global Chairman Tamara Ingram OBE and Canyon Ranch’s medical specialist Dr Richard Carmona, the 17th US Surgeon General, it was time for the presentation of the Mary Gostelow Award, to an absolutely unsuspecting Valerie Wilson.

Alexandre Desseigne-Barrière, Pierre-Louis Renou

She later joined all winners onstage – from left, above, see Valerie Wilson, 2019; Geoffrey Gelardi, 2018; Matthew Upchurch, 2017, Mary Gostelow, 2016. Then followed three days of meetings, with the 1,848 buyers (travel advisors, concierges, plus some personal butlers) from 76 countries moving around the three floors of the exhibition to meet up with whichever of the 1,884 exhibitors, from 96 countries, was next on their detailed schedule. At breakfast, lunch and all evening long, the buyers were liberally and generously entertained (one night I found I had accepted four cocktails, a supper and an after party). Many of the best events were at Majestic Barrière, which undoubtedly pleased both its owner, Alexandre Desseigne-Barrière, and its GM, Pierre-Louis Renou.

The GM holds a ‘Carl’

Pierre-Louis Renou has just come back from St Barths’ Hotel Carl Gustav, now in the Barrière network – he oversees that Caribbean property.  In its honour, this hotel’s creative mixologist, Pierre Damoiseau, has created Le Carl, a most agreeable concoction of rum, pineapple, olive juice, orange juice: he sent me one up, that night, and it was actually jolly good.  He and his colleagues were working flat out throughout ILTM. I only had time, unfortunately, to make cameo appearances at two breakfasts at the Majestic Barrière’s year-round Beach Club, hosted by Travel+Leisure, and by Leading Hotels of the World. I loved the seafood at a Trump Beach Club lunch, and the best hotel parties are the ones in sixth and seventh floor suites, namely Taj, and Le Cheval Blanc.

Party pyramid

This is a luxury hotel that also throws its own party.  Every year, on the Wednesday of ILTM, Majestic Barrière’s party for its local supporters and the ILTM delegates who are staying in the hotel is magical for its organisation. Nothing seems to be happening until, from 8.30 p.m., there is such security that only those with invitations can get into a winter wonderland of performance, and food and drink (loved the pyramid of champagne glasses holding savoury custard). But by the morning, at least by 7 a.m. it really did look as if nothing HAD happened. The hotel was back to normal, ready to close in two days for one of its annual holidays, now until 27 December, when they open up for New Year. AND NOW, SEE A VIDEO OF ROOM 540, AND THEN TURN TO www.luxury-te.com

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Luxury Hotels

The InterContinental Carlton is Cannes’ ageless luxury hotel

Giuseppe Vincelli

“This is MY HOUSE”, declares Giuseppe Vincelli firmly. As GM of the doyenne of Cannes’ luxury hotels, the 1912-vintage InterContinental Carlton Cannes, he regards the 343-room property as his personal fief, which he is caretaking on behalf of the Qatari owners.  Obviously at any time, and especially at such peak periods as Cannes Film Festival and, as now, International Luxury Travel Market ILTM, front-facing rooms are at a premium. Room 633 had a gorgeous view – see above. The entire hotel, by the way, is about to have a top-to-toe re-do.

Elegance on the ground floor

Tristan Auer, who did part of the renovation of Rosewood’s Le Crillon in Paris, is the new designer here and I cannot wait to see what he does.  It is known that the C-shaped building will have its inner space turned into a gorgeous garden, with a year-round heated 18-metre pool, unique along the Croisette. There will be a new restaurant, not yet shared. I am sure they will not completely change the elegance of the ground floor public areas, which are light and airy with molding around the tops of walls and columns. This is where local residents meet as the Carlton is roughly halfway along the Croisette.

Sunrise from my terrace

I had a small terrace, just big enough for pre-breakfast coffee for two. There was a new moon at sunrise, which boded well for the next few days of ILTM (the stars were not, however, to be completely aligned as just before ILTM actually started we had one of the worst, and most wetting, downpours I ever remember, and then French unions chose that week to begin their nation-wide strike, which made departure transport a little tricky for some).  I love breakfast at the Carlton. They have a splendid Middle Eastern corner, and no-one raised an eyebrow when asked to put avocado alongside an omelette.

Karin Sheppard

Also there that morning was Karin Sheppard, MD for IHG for Europe, which means from Portugal in the west right across ten time zones to Russia’s Vladivostok to the east.  She has 750 hotels and 160 in what is generally known as ‘pipeline’, in gestation stage.  This is a Dane who has moved from technology on to the commerce of hotels and continued to heading operations too. We had our coffees, took a photo and then, sadly, it was time for me to move on from this lovely and ageless-luxury hotel. READ MORE GOSTELOW THOUGHTS ON www.luxury-te.com AND SEE ROOM 633, BELOW

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Luxury Hotels

Cannes’ glorious luxury hotels includes the Martinez

The chic reception desk

There are currently three luxury hotels that confirm the Croisette as the hub of Cannes – from west to east, Majestic Barrière, InterContinental Carlton and Martinez, now part of Hyatt’s Unbound Collection (a fourth property, a J.W. Marriott, is currently closed). The gal, here, goes in reverse order, starting with the sumptuous Hollywood-glory Hôtel Martinez, celebrating its 90th birthday this year: for four nights last week the exterior was marvellously illuminated as virtual art. Two years ago, thanks to her Qatari owners, the 409-room beauty finished a Pierre-Yves Rochon redo, more like severe plastic surgery than a standard face lift.  Look, above, at a vignette in corner suite 531, the bottle, bespoke for the hotel, is a reminder that the Taittinger family owned the hotel for many years.  Arrive here, at the hotel that traditionally starts the Cannes Film Festival, and you feel elegantly red-carpet from the word go.

Baked goods hang up at brunch

The corridors of the seven-floor hotel were grey and dusty pink, before.  Now they are heavenlyn pale grey with vivid carpeting that is actually blue, and not any old blue but what I call ‘Martinez blue’. Gone is the main casual restaurant, stretching out to the Croisette.  That space is now a proper, and undoubtedly more profitable, bar. The rear of the lobby has become an inner restaurant, no windows but two sides are open so you do look, at a distance, out to the hotel’s front courtyard, and the Croisette and Mediterranean beyond. I checked out the weekend brunch, held both Saturday and Sunday.

Kids corner

It was seafood heaven, with really imaginative displays. I even loved the kids’ corner, a riot of colour. You know the staff here are having a good time, too. They are dressed with style – the reception ladies look especially elegant. This is a place where guests look good, (well, this is France, and the boutiques within a few minutes’ walk include Dolce & Gabbana, Ferragamo, Versace and all the usual top names). Of course I had to try to keep up to par, and the hotel’s fitness is open 24/7 – there is an outside terrace up there, for fresh-air exercises. Sadly there was no time this visit for the L. Raphael spa, which attracts followers who stay here, specially, for her treatments.

Mark Hoplamazian

During big events this is the luxury hotel that attracts the stars. Not surprisingly during ILTM it was temporary home of a host of Hyatt GMs, including Peter Roth from New York, Claudio Ceccherelli from Paris and Hervé Mazella from Tokyo (he was born within a few miles of Cannes) – and Frank Lavey from Chicago. What WAS a surprise was that while I was breakfasting with the Martinez’s suave GM, Yann Gillet, his ultimate boss, Hyatt CEO Mark Hoplamazian, whizzed by. He had, metaphorically speaking, just blown in for a quick overnight between Chicago and London. One of the many lovely things about a life in luxury travel is never knowing whom you will run into next. NOW SEE BEAUTIFUL SUITE 531 (and if you have time-interest, then switch to www.luxury-te.com  )

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