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.
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.
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.
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 )