In the southern tip of the French Riviera in the resort town of Cap d’Antibes is a luxury hotel known as the Hotel du Cap Eden Roc. It is behind the Alep pines and is considered as an iconic establishment where time has stood still.
The Hotel du Cap Eden Roc was originally built as a villa. Hippolyte de Villemessant, the founder of Le Figaro, a newspaper in France, put up the villa in 1869 for writers in need of inspiration. Antoine Sella, a noted hotelier from Italy, bought the villa in 1887 and opened the Grand Hotel du Cap a couple of years later. The Eden Roc pavilion was then built 400 yards away from the main hotel 25 years later in 1914.
The noted American couple Gerald Clery Murphy and Sara Sherman Wiborg then moved to the hotel for an entire summer during the 1920’s. The extremely wealthy couple was known for their generosity, hospitality and love for parties. At that time, the French Riviera was not yet known as a summer escape, though a lot of people were already using it to take a respite from the bitter winter cold up north.Thanks to the Murphys, artists belonging to the Lost Generation, like Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, started to flock to the place.
Popular Destination of Famous Personalities
The hotel then became a popular destination for famous artists, celebrities, politicians and even royalty. After Fitzgerald immortalized the place as Hotel des Etrangers in “Tender is the Night,” Marc Chagall drew several sketches in the 1960’s in the shady cabanas fronting the beach.
Hollywood also came visiting, with the likes of Marlene Dietrich staying in the hotel. Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, who got married twice in 1964 and 1975, kindled an affair and spent a honeymoon there. Other guests include the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, as well as allied war leaders and heroes Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle. Up to now, the Hotel du Cap Eden Roc has remained a favorite among the Hollywood set, particularly during the yearly film festival held in Cannes.
The Oetker Collection
The hotel is part of the Oetker collection of the late German industrialist named Rudolf August Oetker. The German entrepreneur was specially known for heading the Oetker Gruppe, a private food company that became huge after he invented a popular mixture of baking powder. The company then became one of the recovery symbols of Germany after the Second World War.
In 1964, Oetker went on a sailing trip with his wife, Maja von Malaise, on the Cote d’ Azur when they saw the hotel. Five years later, the hotel became part of his conglomerate.
Despite the change in ownership, the hotel clung to several traditions through the years. As a matter of fact, until 2006, the hotel would not accept credit card payments, preferring to accept only cash transactions. Visitors, however, could advance their payments through wire transfer.
Still, just like the days when the Murphys stayed for an entire summer, the Hotel du Cap Eden Roc still proved to be a popular destination for art and artsy shows. In 2011, the hotel’s principal driveway to the sea was the site of the Croisiere Collection of the Chanel couture house. The collection was known for its savoir faire workshops.
A Love for Champagne
You might think of champagne as just any sparkling wine, but in the strictest sense of the word, it should be a sparkling white wine produced from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France. The primary groups used in its production are Pinot noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. To produce champagne, the wine must undergo a secondary fermentation in order to create carbonation.
There are more than a hundred champagne houses in the region, as well as nearly 19,000 more smaller vignerons, or vine-growing producers. All in all, all these companies manage a total of nearly 32,000 hectares of vineyards in the region. The official number of the bottle preceded by abbreviations identifies the producers, differentiated through the following designations:
- CM, or cooperative de manipulation, that pools together grapes from members and makes wines as cooperatives.
- MA, or marquee auxiliaire, in which the brand name and the producer are totally unrelated.
- ND, or negociant distributeur, a merchant selling under his own name.
- NM, or negociant manipulant, in which companies buy grapes and make the wine.
- RC, or recoltant cooperateur, where a member of a cooperative sells champagnes produced by the cooperative under its own label.
- RM, or recoltant manipulant, where a grower makes wines from his own grapes.
- SR, or societe de recoltants, in which an association of growers creates a champagne, though they are not a cooperative.
There are five wine-producing districts in the region, namely Aube, Cote des Blancs, Cote de Sezanne, Montagne de Reims and Vallee de la Marne, with Reims and Epernay serving as the commercial centers.
Hotel du Cap Eden Roc’s New Features and Services
In 2011, the hotel completed restoration and renovation works. It cost them $67 million and it now boasts of a couple of clay tennis courts similar to the ones used at Roland Garros in the annual French Open grand slam tournament, a spa, a fitness center, a hair parlor, some shopping stalls, as well as nine acres of verdant gardens. There are also 33 cabanas in the rock facing the sea, as well as a heated salt water swimming pool that was cut out near the edge of a cliff way back in 1914.
The hotel has also opened a champagne lounge on its sky top. The open air terrace allows you to take full advantage of the region’s reliable weather. There are 14 champagne houses providing a taste of their products. This includes the Cristal Or 2002 of Louis Roederder, a limited-edition champagne of 200 pieces only, with a handmade gold coin adorning each bottle, and the Clos d’ Ambonnay.
The lounge provides a view of the infinity pool and the Mediterranean Sea and can accommodate only 40 people. It is open to the public the entire summer of 2013.
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