Luxury Hotels

WINDSTAR – 6

Everyone quickly gets into a routine aboard Windstar’s Star Legend – one first-time cruiser from the West Coast of the USA has a night acupuncture at 8.30, which requires early dinners for her and her travelling companion, her neighbour (they’re both single moms and when you hear their marital stories it would be more than enough to put some off men forever). Girlahead only ran into them because they were on the same bus. Others among the 222-strong passenger list she saw for the first time as she was finally disembarking.

The ship was moored in Nice for two days. Mid-morning on day one it was time to get off, but where was the pick-up?  Well, this was Nice Carnival week, security was at higher-than-usual and the car had to park a good seven minutes away. And then, since place de Verdun is cordoned off for the festivities, there was a ten minute walk to Anantara Plaza Nice Hotel, but who cared? The sun was shining and the guide, also known as chief concierge, pointed out the essentials. That’s where celebs hang out (Pizza Crespi).

As we walked we window-shopped for his girlfriend, a vet. No to the flimsy Gucci, and so on. There’s an impressive Star Boutique onboard, by the way, but it’s tough for them as they can only open when at sea, which means no business at all during two days in port, as now. At the hotel, the GM, Gaudéric Harang, waited. Wow, these Côte d’Azur bosses are impressive. Perhaps they have to be.

We whisked up to the sixth floor rooftop, to Seen. You certainly are seen here. Designed by David Collins it’s light, bright and the local equivalent of The Newbury’s rooftop restaurant back in Boston MA (that one’s Ken Falk). Once again the lunchtime crowd is full of locals, an obvious senior businesswoman with younger male colleagues, a couple here, a couple there….

Over Bluefin tuna tataki and watercress salad followed by Black cod miso sake, and celery cream, Mr Impressive, whose colour-blindness diverted him from a future in the French army, shared how he’s been put into this 1850 hotel to elevate it to superstar status and put it on the world map. Creativity is a strong part of his game plan, with, it seems, nonstop popups for this rooftop space.

He certainly has a supportive destination. Nice is renowned for its empathetic mayor, Christian Estrosi, a former motorbike racing pro. Special events help. This 21st July the final leg of the Tour de France, from Monaco, finishes here – this was arranged by Estrosi and HSH Prince Albert.  Sadly there was no time to hear more: Girlahead once again rushed to her room, so well appointed (see a video below, and also of the stunning lobby). Back the way she had come – to her at-sea home.