Monday, May 2, 2011

St. Tropez, France - Hotel Villa Belrose

The pool at the Hotel Villa Belrose, our room was on the top balcony seen above with the single umbrella

The nice weather has me thinking about summer vacation destinations, and one of my favorite spots is the small coastal town of St. Tropez in the south of France. This little port was originally made famous by Brigitte Bardot and has since become a playground for celebrities, billionaires, international socialites and the well-heeled in general. St. Tropez can be defined in two words: luxury and excess. As relevant today as ever, Karl Lagerfeld just held his Chanel 2011 Cruise Collection runway show on the streets of the famous port. Guests sat in the famous red chairs of the Sénéquier cafe and watched as models sashayed past, many barefoot.

My favorite hotels in St. Tropez are the Byblos (luxury) and the Hotel Sube (budget - if there is such a thing in St. Trop), though on a recent stay, when both of these hotels were booked, I had the chance to discover a truly lovely new property: the Hotel Villa Belrose.  Part of the Relais & Chateaux chain, the Hotel Villa Belrose sits on one of the small hills of Gassin, just at the start of the road into St. Tropez (about a five minute drive to the port). The hotel architecture is inspired by a Florentine villa, is surrounded by beautiful green pine trees and commands a spectacular view of the entire Bay of St. Tropez.
View of the Bay of St. Tropez from our hotel room balcony at the Hotel Villa Belrose

The property has all the makings of a luxury resort: attentive staff, beautiful heated pool, a spa, a bar and pool cafe, as well as a Michelin star restaurant with an alfresco dining room overlooking the sea. I found the hotel a truly peaceful haven away from all the chaos of the port. Having rented a car at the Nice Côte d'Azur airport meant that we could drive to the beaches or the port at anytime we wished if we needed to be amidst the action, or simply stay put and relax at the Villa Belrose. It was the best of both worlds.

When we checked in to our hotel room we had an ice cold bottle of the local rosé wine and two chocolate tarts waiting for us (which we enjoyed in the shade of our balcony), and it served as a lovely welcome mat for our stay.

The one Michelin star Restaurant Villa Belrose alfresco dining overlooking the bay
We were lucky to be at the hotel in mid-August and enjoyed a spectacular fireworks display from our hotel room balcony. The fireworks show took place right on the Bay of St. Tropez and was most likely in honor of the August 15th holiday (Assumption of Mary).

On our last night in St. Tropez, we partied at the local discos until the sun came up! When we returned to the hotel room to fetch our luggage before heading to the airport for an early morning flight, we were greeted with one of the most amazing sunrises I have ever seen. It was so magical to catch St. Tropez at this sleepy hour, silent and beautiful, and basked in the first rays of the morning's golden pink light.
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