It may be gilding the lily to create splendid spas on the deep blue Mediterranean coast, but the sybaritic south offers a wealth of wonderful places where you can relax, renew and restore your glow. Among the best in our current Riviera roundup:
BY THE SEA
Set back on 17 acres of landscaped gardens at the tip of the lush Cap Ferrat peninsula between Nice and Monaco, the stately Belle Epoque Grand-Hôtel du Cap Ferrat reopened in 2009 after a massive 14-month, €75 million renovation headed by designer Pierre-Yves Rochon. The transformation from palatial but fussy Old World decor to pristine white understated chic goes well with the hotel’s new star attraction: a contemporary wing that includes 8 exclusive suites with plunge pools and an elegant 8,000-sq-ft spa, built into the coastal rock. The vast, luminous space is divided into five treatment rooms, a heated indoor pool with counter-current jet streams and a gym and fitness area with a state-of-the-art Gyrotonic machine for strengthening and toning. Couples can splurge on the Grand Salon, which features a private steam room hammam, sauna and bath for two. The wide choice of treatments featuring the Italian beauty line Comfort Zone as well as Carita products includes massages with hot volcanic stones or Mediterranean essential oils. Highlights: the one-hour Promenade Botanique massage, with a relaxing cocktail of ylang-ylang, mimosa, vanilla and jasmine; and the Provençal Fraîcheur massage—a toning detox with cardamom, bergamot and lavender. The body treatments range from a 75-minute firming and anti-age session to the signature, one-hour-and-45-minute Tranquility Experience. And then there’s the exceptional four-hour-and-15-minute Sculpting Gold Perfection extravaganza. Afterwards, it’s time to relax in the pine-shaded garden to sip freshly brewed herbal teas and gaze at the turquoise sea.
Grand-Hôtel du Cap Ferrat, 71 blvd du Général de Gaulle, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, 04.93.78.50.50. €130-€500 website
UP ON THE ROOF
Along with a stunning panoramic view of Monaco and the Mediterranean coast, the 7th floor of the recently revamped Hôtel Fairmont Monte Carlo now boasts the new Willow Stream Spa. The concept: a holistic approach to renewing energy that combines traditional techniques, including mineral baths for muscles and joints, with seaweed or aloe body wraps to stimulate circulation and natural cleansing scrubs with lavender, orange and wild flowers. Treatments range from a one-hour relaxation massage to a 120-minute Romantic Ritual for two in a sumptuous private room. Highlight: a two-hour aromatherapy session, with personalized programs that include ambient lighting—think magenta, purple or midnight blue—along with scented steam baths, scrubs and three different clay wraps to re-mineralize and condition your skin. Even the changing rooms are luxurious lounges, stocked with magazines, herbal beverages and baskets heaped with freshly baked madeleines. If you’re counting calories, you can take advantage of the state-of-the-art fitness center or do laps in the lovely rooftop pool. While you’re at it, you can try one of the ultra-fresh dishes from the “light” menu at the poolside restaurant, dreamed up by the wildly creative chef, Maryon Gandon, who works wonders with organic vegetables. Far from the buzz of the Casino Square, Monte Carlo has never looked so good.
Hôtel Fairmont Monte Carlo, 12 ave des Spélugues, Monte Carlo,+318.104.22.168.00. €119-€559 website
GO FOR THE GLOW
When Matisse and Chagall painted dazzling landscapes of the woodsy green slopes of Vence, little did they dream that someday there would be gold in those hills above Nice. Now, at the new La Prairie Spa at the Château du Domaine Saint Martin & Spa—a beautifully restored castle on a pine-shaded cliff—you’ll walk out glowing after the unique Pure Radiance facial, done with products infused with flecks of pure 24-carat gold. Other signature beauty treatments include an energizing three-hour Swiss Bliss Cocooning head-to-toe caviar body massage and facial—and yes, the creams are made with the real thing. Here, too, duos can splurge with the double VIP cabin with a private aromatherapy hammam, and then relax with a cup of home-brewed olive leaf and orange flower tea, plucked from the hotel’s herb garden.
Château du Domaine Saint-Martin & Spa, 2490 ave des Templiers, Vence, 04.93.58.02.02. €130-€330 website
URBAN DAY SPA
The flashy, pop-colored ultra-hip design Hi Hôtel, on a downtown residential street in Nice, at first may not seem like a haven of serenity—come sunset, it’s one of the city’s coolest nightspots for live DJ parties—but the new Espace Hi-Body, tucked away behind the organic restaurant/bar, has a soothing cocoon-like feel from the moment you step inside. After a steam in the tiled hammam, you can choose from a list of face and body treatments with ecologically correct “green label” skin care products from the British company Ren that have no parabens, sulfates or chemicals—only high-tech bioactive products that are formulated to energize and replenish the skin. Treatments include a variety of one-day packages that include a relaxing one-hour massage, a 40-minute scrub and an organic snack with fresh juice. Highlights: scrubs with cleansers made from oats, corn and sugarcane; and a facial and massage with Ren’s award-winning Moroccan rose body oil. Masseur extraordinaire Bertrand Poncet and his staff offer Swedish, Ayurvedic and Shiatsu massages too, plus private training in yoga, Qigong and Pilates. To round it all out, try another steam in the hammam, or chill out in the tiny rooftop pool with a sweeping view of the coast.
Hi Hôtel, 3 ave des Fleurs, Nice, 04.97.07.26.26. €65-€120, one-day packages from €158 website
Up in the wooded heights of Mougins, the hotel Le Mas Candille’s Shiseido Spa—housed in an elegant Asian-style pavilion—offers a different take on relaxation and anti-stress environments, featuring a specialized, comprehensive Japanese Qi treatment for both men and women. After the ceremonial warm footbath, the possibilities here range from a deep cleansing mask, exfoliation and back massage to a firming treatment with a revitalizing body polish and massage. Makeup sessions, manicures and pedicures are also available. The Shiseido beauty products are a joy, and so are the fragrant herbal teas served in the sunny bay-windowed salon de repos overlooking the valley. Along with the exclusive new face-and-body “Oxygen” treatment, there’s now a special low-calorie minceur gastronomic lunch in the hotel’s shady garden terrace restaurant, where superb Provençal chef Serge Gouloumès dishes up a tasty three-course choice of beautifully prepared dishes. Highlights: smoked salmon and mozzarella tartare, coquilles Saint Jacques with roasted artichokes, and homemade fruit sorbet and mango soup for dessert. Day and half-day packages include free access to the Jacuzzi, hydrotherapy pool, sauna, fitness area and relaxation room.
Le Mas Candille, Blvd Clément Rebuffel, Mougins, 04.92.28.43.43. €65-€445 website
The stylish, completely renovated 1835 White Palm Hôtel (a former Sofitel), situated on the seafront just across from the Vieux Port of Cannes, is creating a major buzz, especially since the HO2 Thermes Marins thalassotherapy spa opened in May 2009. This specialized seawater treatment center—only the second one on the Côte d’Azur, after the Thermes Marins in Monaco—offers options that range from a half-day afternoon splurge to intensive six-day cures. The three-story glass and chrome structure is a tribute to minimalist splendor, but perhaps the biggest draw, particularly in winter, is the heated indoor-outdoor salt-water pool with massaging jets and its adjacent solarium. There’s also a hammam, sauna and multi-sensorial shower replete with twittering birds, music and wafting aromas. Among the wide variety of packages, most of the treatments include stimulating or relaxing wet and dry hydromassages intended to activate circulation and drain toxins, plus superb skin care programs for both men and women using three prestigious international brand products—Anne Sémonin, Dr. Hauschka and Valmont. The Japanese-style Bento Box lunch here is full of healthy low-calorie goodies like quinoa and cumin salad, local fresh fish and pineapple-mint spring rolls for dessert.
1835 White Palm Hotel, 1 blvd Jean Hibert, Cannes, 04.92.99.73.20. €80-€300 website