< FRANCE | CANNES: Grand Hyatt Cannes Hôtel Martinez
A villa - “La Coquette” at 73, Boulevard De La Croisette - was built at the beginning of the Cannes real estate boom set in motion by pioneering English aristocrats including Lord Brougham, Lord Woolfield and Sir Temple Leader. This property was purchased in 1874 by Francis II, the exiled last King of the Two Sicilies. It was improved, renovated, extended and renamed the “Villa Marie-Thérèse” by the destitute king… forced to abandon his title, thus becoming the Count of Caserta. It was the venue for society events during the Third Republic (1870-1914), but lost some of its splendour during the First World War (1914-18) and its reputation declined during the Roaring Twenties.
Sold at the time when the first great hotels were flourishing on the Croisette, it was purchased by Mr Emmanuel Martinez, Chairman of the Société des Grands Hôtels de Cannes,
who demolished it to build the largest hotel in the region (architects: Messrs. Palermo and Mayer).
It was on 1st December 1927 that construction work began on the Hotel Martinez… a phenomenal building site that required 490 foundation stakes (each with a bearing capacity of 95 tonnes) and the sinking of 450 cubic metres of reinforced concrete.
The work, carried out by the Annella company from Marseilles, was ended quickly, and on 17th February 1929, despite the economic events shaking the world (the Wall Street Crash and the start of the American Depression), Emmanuel Martinez was delighted to announce the opening of one of the largest hotel on the French Riviera.
A year later, before the major social upheavals during the Popular Front period, Cannes, hitherto a winter resort, decided to establish the summer season; at a meeting on 2nd August 1931 the major hotel managers decided to stay open during the summer.
The Second World War and Nazi Occupation were to cast a shadow over everything. However, after the Liberation of France, the Hotel Martinez regained its lustre and prestige by welcoming the General Staff of the American troops. In the greatly joyous moments of Victory, the hotel organised a party in honour of the US Air Force. It went on to host other events and shows; including a fund-raising gala - starring the famous music hall star Mistinguett - to benefit orphans of the Resistance.
The visitor’s book at the Hotel Martinez is a fine testimony to the tremendous saga of “Cannes, city of the stars”. Some of the 20th century's most illustrious personalities have signed its pages… Over the decades, Paul Valéry, the Duke of Montmorency, André Citroën, Caroline Otéro, Archduke Franz-Joseph and many artists, writers, actors and singers alongside kings, princes, emirs, statesmen and businessmen have stayed at the hotel on the Croisette. Its distinguished guests include the President of China, the President of France, his Prime Minister, and eighteen heads of state and government who attended the twenty-fifth Franco-African summit. Not forgetting, of course, the many movie and fashion stars present during the International Film Festival since its creation in 1946.
For a long time managed by the State following the Second World War, the Hotel Martinez had a fresh start in the eighties thanks to an ambitious renovation plan (almost €40 million invested over 10 years) designed by the new owner, Concorde Hotels & Resorts, which belonged at that time to the Taittinger Family, who purchased it on 7th August 1981.
In 2012, the hotel joined the Hyatt chain and since 2013 is known as the Grand Hyatt Cannes Hotel Martinez.
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