Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Four Seasons Provence Offers Experiences for All

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The Four Seasons Provence at Terre Blanche sits in a unique location – it's not on the French Riviera's famed coast, nor is it located in the chic towns of Nice, Cannes or St. Tropez. The resort instead sits between the three towns, nestled at the base of the hillside village of Fayence and near the towns of Mons, Tourettes and Grasse.

Still, the resort offers a variety of private experience for guests seeking a retreat with a variety of customized experiences. A-listers flock to this hotel during peak times like the Cannes Film Festival, and stars like Angelina Jolie have holed up at the hotel for a few weeks of privacy. This writer had the pleasure of spending a few days at the resort earlier this month.

Train like the pros at the resort's new Albatros Golf Performance Center. After playing on one of two 18-hole, par 72 championship courses, get your swing dissected with the center's BioMecaSwing assessment which analyzes posture, mobility, and balance of each golf movement.

Need more hands-on instruction? The David Leadbetter Golf Academy, trains both beginners and PGA tour professionals alike. Our favorite part? The shoe-fitting room, where you can get your golf shoes custom-fitted, and the specialized "golf gym," offering equipment not yet available in the United States to help assist with stretching and muscle development for high-performance athletes. Afterwards, head to the spa – they offer a specialized golf massage and a massive indoor pool, perfect for relaxing in all weather.

Don't care to head into town to tour the area's most famed perfume factory? They'll come to you. For 55 Euro per person, the resort offers a private, 1.5 hour perfume lecture and consultation with the noses from Fragonnard. You'll even leave the workshop with a personalized bottle of perfume.

Perhaps our favorite part of the hotel? The massive collection of contemporary artwork, ranging from sculpture (heavy on the metals and bronzes) to paintings. More than 70 pieces of nearly priceless work dot the resort grounds,. Starting in early May, guests can request a complimentary French or English language audio tour, where they can take a self-guided stroll through the grounds and learn a bit about the pieces and their history. Until then, request a small photo sheet at the front desk.

While the French are certainly known for their food, guests will enjoy a real treat -Stéphanie Le Quellec, the resort's Executive Chef, recently won the French version of popular show Top Chef. Her creations specialize in the seasonal and fresh – when we visited , we dined on dishes created with sea bass and artichokes, lightly dressed and served with a minimum of fuss- far unlike the heavily sauced French food of old. Those particularly interested in food experiences will want to ask for a private tasting with the sommelier. Conducted in the resort's wine cellar, guests can sample the region's best rosé wines and other local vintages. Be sure to notice the pink and white Diet Coke bottles lining one corner of the cellar. The special limited edition Karl Lagerfeld-designed bottles were specially brought in for a prior guest of the hotel.

This summer, the resort will open a Four Seasons branded kid's club, complete with kid's pool and full-service experiences for children as young as two. Programs include cooking classes, history tours, golf and tennis camps and more. The resort's main pool will also offer limited "family" swimming time.

Nearby Towns
Ask to rent one of the resort's cars to tour nearby towns – you can visit wineries, olive oil plantations, museums and more within an hour's drive, not to mention towns like Cannes and St. Tropez. Arrange for a stop in Nice upon your arrival – the easiest way to access the resort is by flying into Paris and taking a train or short flight (1.5 hours) to Nice, and then driving to the resort (approximately an hour drive).

Resort Experience
The resort itself is a lovely experience – the staff is as attentive as would be expected from a Four Seasons property, and all of the staffers spoke an impressive amount of English. The rooms, tucked throughout the resort in Villa-style configurations, were a bit corporate feeling, but are spacious and boast amenities like L'Occtaine amenities, Nespresso machines and heated bathroom floors. Massive private terraces overlooking the pristinely-manicured grounds ensure that you'll want to spend more time outside than in. Pack flats, however- the sprawling resort means lots of walking. Our biggest complaint? The expensive wireless – 25 euro per day for "fast" Wi-Fi and 3.50 per coffee/tea charge after a "limit" of two daily.

Pack appropriately - the weather is temperate and rarely snows, but the high season (May through September) is the warmest period. Our early spring visit saw temperatures in the upper 60s and low 70s, which is average for the year. Dress is resort chic but not cocktail formal, except in the cities, where you'll likely want to pack your "see and be seen" attire.

By: McLean Robbins

Filed under: Estates, Luxury Travel & Hotels

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