Out of the blue/ SC Magazine
By Amy Van

Cloudless skies and azure Mediterranean sea. Beautiful sun-kissed bodies, stylish boutiques and quaint gourmet stores. Such are the images that arise when I think of Cannes - a summer playground for the well-heeled and glamorous.

Now add to that list Le Cavendish - a charming hotel located in the heart of Cannes. Built in 1897 by wealthy English physician Lord Henry Cavendish, the hotel is minutes away from the famed Palais des Festivals, lively La Croisette, restaurants and shopping strip.

To cater to the constant stream of movie stars, the rich and the famous who head to this Cote D'Azur city during the annual Cannes Film Festival, owners Guy and Christine Welter decided to renovate the property after purchasing it in 2000. Le Cavendish opened its doors in 2001 after a major face-lift (costing 1.5 millions Euros) that lasted nine months.

The couple decided to revive the atmosphere that was typically found in the French Riviera's "démeures" or luxurious residences at the end of last century. Besides preserving the building's façade, they also retained the original lift, dating from 1920, and the spiral carrera marble staircase which both lend much character to the interior.

Stepping inside is as exciting as opening a treasure box full of surprises. And copious amounts of attention are given to the details. The reception salon is adorned with original paintings and antiques as well as assorted travel trinkets.

Here, the setting changes with the mood of the day - fresh in the morning, relaxed in the afternoon and sensuous in the evening. At the crack of dawn, the smell of hot croissants and home-made strawberry and pear jams wafts through the lounge bar. At dusk, pretty candles are lit and custom-made scents of lavender and spices permeate the entire hotel.

If you're feeling famished, the cosy lounge bar splashed with warm orange and yellow hues is the place to head to. Breakfast, for instance, comprises a spread of Viennese breads, pains au chocolat, orange cake studded with chocolate chips, ham, apricot and cereal. You can also take your pick from an assortment of loose leaf teas - think Earl Grey Imperial, Thé Sur le Nil, Fuji Yama, Marco Polo and Nil Rouge. Alongside that is the open bar (free of charge from 7pm to 11pm). Too inviting to resist after a hot day in the intense summer heat, are the cocktail concoctions and cool pastis.

Food and setting aside, what really stands out is the superb service. Having held various managerial posts within international hotel chains, Guy and Christine Welter are obviously aware that personalised service is an essential tool in their business. Their desire to create the ambience of a private house rather than a hotel, says it all. They welcome each guest personally during check-in time and even greet them every morning at breakfast.

Seemingly, taking care of guests' comfort is an absolute priority to the savvy and friendly staff. Besides unparalleled service (from the doorman to the receptionist), you also get excellent dining and sight-seeing recommendations from them.

To add some motherly cosseting, women or rather mothers from around the neighbourhood have been invited to prepare breakfast for guests as well as perform housekeeping errands.

This hotel's 40 luxurious bedrooms has been rebuilt and decorated a la Provençal style. Besides plush furnishing (including the most comfortable beds in this side of France), available too are modern amenities like satellite TV, internal video systems and internet connections.

Spread over four levels, most of the rooms have a balcony or terrace overlooking the old town of Cannes or the sea. What is special here are the spacious "rotundas" or circular guestrooms which revive the charm of old-fashioned Provence.

Before bedtime, the chambermaid pops by the guestrooms for the delightful "turn-down service" - fluffing the softest pillows ever, lowering the remote-control shutters, placing a Godiva chocolate on your bed, and a final touch - sprinkling lavender oil on the sheets… Sweet dreams!

For more details:
Le Cavendish, 11 Boulevard Carnot, 06400 Cannes, France. Tel: 33(0)4 97 06 26 00. Email : reservation@cavendish-cannes.com

Unearthing Cannes

  • Walk along the Promenade de la Croisette or sun-bathe on the beach-front. Stroll to the port and gaze at the multi-million dollar yachts or swing by the casino for some evening fun.

  • Palais des Festivals by the old harbour offers exhibitions, shows and concerts all year. In May, brush shoulders with celebrities at the star-studded Cannes Film Festival. Check out movie stars' handprints along Allee des Stars.

  • The Le Suquet (Old Town) located on a hillside exudes typical Mediterranean charm. Follow the road winding up towards the old town and discover the many cafes and restaurants along the narrow cobblestone streets. When you reach the summit, you will be rewarded with a stunning sea view.

  • Board a ferry which leaves every 20 minutes from the city to the Isles of Lerins - two beautiful islands dubbed Sainte Marguerite and Saint Honorat. Here you can swim and relax or explore the Fort Royal on Sainte Marguerite and the monastery on Saint Honorat.

Fab Nosh

  • Traditional French Restaurant La Mère Besson (13 rue des frères Pradignac) serves the most succulent roast chicken with mushrooms as well as sweet-and-sour sardines à l'escabèche (marinated) partnered with ratatouile.

  • For a small price, one can purchase a delicious take-away lunch from Ernest ( 52 & 53 bis, rue Meynadier et 6, rue Louis Blanc). Besides pastas and paellas, the quiche lorraine and coffee eclairs are to-die-for.


(Photos courtesy of Cannes Tourisme)

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