By Helmut Dostal
Picasso, Elton John, Winston Churchill and Liz Taylor have all come under her spell. Now, as I return after more than a decade away, I find myself falling in love all over again with the seaside splendour of Cap-Ferrat.
Well beyond the traditional summer holidays, the elegance and douceur de vivre of this magnificent seafront oasis, with its balmy pine trees, colourful flower gardens and vintage charm, are legendary.
First opened in 1908 the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat is a well-preserved icon, embodying the classic glamour and timeless chic of the star-studded French Riviera. Away from prying eyes and surrounded by spectacular ocean views, manicured gardens and the sweet scent of flowers, there are but 49 rooms and 24 suites and, of course, one of the world’s best-kept secrets: Villa Rose-Pierre, the hotel’s one-of-a-kind private residence.
Available on a fortnightly, monthly or yearly basis (and maybe for an overnight or two for a special guest), Villa Rose-Pierre is at once modern and refined. With palatial bedrooms, ample terraces and balconies, a drawing room, lounge, dining room, fitness centre and private tennis court—plus extra accommodation for a full complement of private staff, including cooks, chambermaids, butlers and gardeners—there’s room enough for everyone.
Superb deep-blue sea views and a low-key vibe make spending the day lounging beside the villa’s heated swimming pool (it has a bottom that twinkles at nightfall) and wandering in two acres of private gardens relaxingly apropos. And who would judge a guest taking an afternoon nap before wandering over to the spa or enjoying a sunset aperitif on the private rooftop terrace?
If you’re venturing off property then consider indulging in an exclusive Domaines Ott tour, where the secrets behind the making of French rosé wine will be yours to discover. Time your stay to accompany the cellar master and you’ll have the opportunity to participate in the harvest.
On the way back, marvel at beautiful seaside roads known only to locals and drop in on the famous Villa & Jardins Ephrussi de Rothschild, a work of art in its own right.
A bespoke picture-perfect picnic can be created by Michelin-starred Chef Yoric Tièche, to be enjoyed in the vineyard or anywhere along the way—another a nice touch. And speaking of lunch, the hotel’s La Véranda boasts an informal atmosphere and menu reminiscent of a chic French Riviera bistro, combining influences from Italy and the Mediterranean Sea.
Club Dauphin, with its sparkling sea view and open-air poolside restaurant, is the place to see and be seen. The chef’s Provençal salads and grilled fish, accompanied of course by a local rosé wine, are something to write home about.
The Club Dauphin pool was built in 1939 and is still celebrated as one of the world’s most beautiful swimming pools. Perfect your breaststroke in its heated seawater or simply relax in a deckchair and enjoy spectacular Mediterranean views. Those looking for a more exclusive experience can rent a private seaside cabana for the day or season.
For dinner, expect understated elegance and extraordinary, maritime-influenced cuisine from Chef Tièche at Le Cap, where he reinvents Provençal and Mediterranean dishes using the freshest of ingredients, some from the hotel’s gardens. Accompany your dish of choice with a Grand Cru from a list of 600 wines from France’s top vineyards.
With a guestbook signed by everyone from Elizabeth Taylor to Winston Churchill and an enviable perch overlooking the Mediterranean, the palatial spread of the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, now a Four Seasons hotel, has been the epitome of Côte d’Azur chic for more than a century. Today, with even more sumptuous rooms, one-of-a-kind views from Nice to Monaco, the unique Villa Rose-Pierre and Michelin-starred cuisine, the hotel’s legacy continues.
Grateful for my time here, and definitely sad to leave, I promise myself I won’t wait a decade to return next time.
Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat is only 25 minutes from Monaco, 30 minutes from Nice and 50 minutes from Cannes.
A private bespoke dinner in the wine cellar
Your ultimate behind-the-scenes experience starts with an aperitif, followed by an exclusive discussion with the chef and sommelier. Together, you’ll plan a tailor-made food and wine pairing menu that’s only for you.
Then, at your leisure, you’ll be treated to the dinner of your dreams. Prepared by the hotel’s very own Michelin-starred Chef Yoric Tièche, this private dinner will be served in the hotel’s spectacular Salon des Collections, where you’ll be surrounded by one of the largest assemblies of Château d’Yquem and Château Lafite Rothschild in the world, dating as far back as 1799.