< FRANCE | SAINT-JEAN CAP-FERRAT: Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, A Four Seasons Hotel
A Four Seasons Hotel
71 Boulevard du Général de Gaulle
06230 Saint-Jean Cap-Ferrat
Phone: +33 4 93 76 50 50
Fax: +33 4 93 76 04 52
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GPS: 43° 40' 37.2" N 7° 19' 53.1" E
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Set on the tip of the peninsula of Cap-Ferrat, amidst 17 acres of lushly landscaped gardens with panoramic views of the Mediterranean, the Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat has welcomed into its halls throughout the past 100 years, many of the great personalities of each era: aristocrats, film stars, politicians, artists and writers, to whom the Grand-Hotel was a peaceful refuge of paradise on earth.
Last century, Cap-Ferrat was a rocky and wild scrubland. The real estate industry introduced the vegetation. King Leopold II of Belgium acquired progressively, in the late nineteenth century,
the only wooded area of the Cap. Then he extended his domain, buying the majority of vacant land. Shortly before 1900, Leopold sold a portion of his property to the company founded by Mr
“Péretmere”, son of a northern cabman, who preserved 16.000 acres for the hotel.
Opened in 1908, the hotel featured two wings built at an open angle. In 1909, a loggia dining room and a central bay-windowed Rotunda were added, following a design by Gustave Eiffel, creator of the Eiffel Tower. The final result gives the Grand-Hotel a remarkably simple yet distinctive silhouette. Later on, the Grand Hotel was bought by Mrs Veuve Ferras, grandmother of the famous violinist Christian Ferras.
In 1914, shortly after the arrival of the new owner, war broke out and the hotel was transformed into a hospital. In 1922, two hoteliers, Henry Dehouve and André Voyenne, bought the majority shares of the company. They retained the ownership for over twenty years, through the Great Depression and the Second World War after which there was a total charge in holiday lifestyle.
From its origins in the first half of the nineteenth century and into the 30?s, the Riviera was almost exclusively frequented by luxury tourists. Visitors were mostly idle rich, or even royalty from northern regions: England and Russia in particular. They only came during the winter for long stays. Around 1930, a few eccentric persons, writers or “avant-garde” artists for the most part, ventured to come to the French Riviera during the summer. They were all looking for peace and quiet, there was little frequentation at this time.
During summer 1933, German filmmaker GW Pabst persuaded Chaliapine to film Don Quixote. Not being able to film in Spain, the director found that the moors of Cap-Ferrat would perfectly fit his movie. Consequently, the filmmaker's team, came one day and knocked on the hotel door, closed at that time. Accommodation was improvised for a few weeks. Actors and technicians were delighted to stay in such a corner of paradise. The following year, many of them wished to return by themselves. This was the timid beginning of the summer season in Saint-Jean Cap-Ferrat. Younger and more athletic than their predecessors, this new generation of vacationers was first seeking sun and water.
Because of the rocky tip of the Cap, the sea was not easily accessible. A cove was created by blasting away the rocks and cliffs. The construction of a sea water Olympic-size swimming pool was therefore decided, in close proximity to the shore. Following fashionable Anglomania, the new construction was named “Sun Beach” and opened in the early April 1939 in the presence of the departmental upper crust.
A few weeks after the beginning of the war in 1939, the Grand-Hotel was boarded up and remained closed for six years. On March 5, 1944, in preparation for an Allied landing, the entire peninsula was evacuated and riddled with mines. Local inhabitants were given only a few hours to grab some of their belongings and flee. Thankfully, the Hotel and swimming pool survived unscathed.
In the 60?s, after the retirement of Andre Voyenne and the death of Mr. Flandin, the family sold the latter of their shares. The hotel changed hands several times since. First a Swiss industrialist, Mr. Rosenstein bought the hotel and then resold it to Mr. and Mrs. Saul Steinberg. The American real estate billionaire made huge investments and then sold it shortly after – for around $23 million to the Nippon consortium “Sazalé” already owners of the famous Holywood luxury hotel, “Bel Air Los Angeles” and they renamed the hotel as “Bel Air Cap-Ferrat”.
Today, renamed “Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat”, it shines again at its brightest. To celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2009, the Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat saw a metamorphosis with extensive refurbishments and additions, blending tradition, innovation and respect for nature. This stunning project was designed by Nice-based architect Luc Svetchine and included the new Residence wing, Le Spa with an indoor swimming pool, and new underground car parking. The grounds are the work of landscape gardener Jean Mus, while the interiors were envisioned by celebrated French designer by Pierre-Yves Rochon.
Famous Cap-Ferrat Hotel guests have included Somerset Maugham, Charlie Chaplin, Winston Churchill, Aristotle Onassis and Elizabeth Taylor. Club Dauphin’s legendary swimming instructor, Pierre Gruneberg, has given lessons to Picasso, as well as the children of Kennedys, Frank Sinatra, Paul McCartney and Ralph Lauren.
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