Cannes, on the French Riviera, is one of my favorite cities in the world to visit. I’ve been fortunate enough to attend the Cannes Film Festival many times and finally had a chance to stay in one of France’s great hotels, the Grand Hyatt Cannes Hotel Martinez. While other hotels may mimic the classic Art Deco design, this property was actually built at the height of the movement, opening in February of 1929. The combination of classic style and modern luxury make it one of the world’s best palace hotels.
I love visiting historic hotels, especially when the property’s history is connected to the development of its local area. Opening as then the largest hotel on the Riviera, the Hotel Martinez was the vision of one man, Emmanuel Michele Martinez, who had run luxury hotels in London and Paris. The palace hotel, with its then-modern style, was an instant hit with the wealthy travel set. The hotel also created a trend in the early 1930s when they, along with other Cannes hotels, decided to stay open for the summer season. Previously, Cannes and other French Riviera resorts had been primarily winter destinations for wealthy residents of Northern Europe, like Florida is for residents of the Northern US. The hotel survived World War II and became a key part of the Cannes Film Festival, the modern incarnation of which started in 1949. Its popularity continued through the years and it’s now one of the hottest, most exclusive (and expensive) hotels during the festival, usually hosting Canal +, the French television network along with the world’s top stars and movie executives.
My seaview suite
I had a seaview junior suite which was really wonderful to experience. There was a large, comfortable bedroom area, with a spacious sitting area complete with couch, table and two chairs, separated from the bedroom section by a large bureau and flat screen TV. The bedroom had big floor to ceiling glass folding French doors, with steps leading up to an awesome and huge teak balcony overlooking the sea and the city. The doors fold open sideways, opening almost the whole side of the room to the view and sea breeze. The deck is positioned at an angle, allowing views of the city and mountains beyond on one side and the blue Mediterranean on the other. Strategic plants, wooden walls and bushes offer privacy. On the deck, there are two comfortable chaise lounges, perfect for sunbathing, along with a table and chairs, perfect for room service dining.
The suite’s bathroom was executed in striped marble and was fantastic. There was a large, deep tub and a separate, spacious shower with rainshower head and multiple body jets on the walls. Duel, deep sinks, all carved from a single block of stone were very elegant and tactile joy to use.
Beyond the suite
The hotel has some great boutiques and features a full Swiss luxury spa by L.Raphael. There’s a beautiful outdoor pool and deck, along with a full fitness center. The hotel has its own dock or pontoon, which extends out above the sea and features sun lounges and bottle service. The hotel has a private beach and beach club, Z’Plage, which is necessary in crowded Cannes.
Art Deco style
The style of the hotel is truly beautiful, starting even before you walk in the building. The gently curving shape of the exterior is quite sensuous, and the hotel’s trademark neon letter “Martinez” sign is now a beloved part of the Cannes skyline. The lobby is large and graceful and the stylish staircases are just beautiful to look at. A tour of the hotel reveals some lovely original details, like the stairs and marble floor in the lobby, but also smaller details like the wood doors leading into the Palme d’Or restaurant. The guestrooms and public spaces are stylish and modern, with Art Deco touches. It feels fresh and new, yet still pays homage to the hotel’s and the city’s great history.
The Hotel Martinez is home to what is considered the best restaurant in Cannes, the two-Michelin-starred La Palme d’Or. This is serious French gastronomy and the restaurant has held those two Michelin stars since 1991. I enjoyed the hotel’s daily breakfast buffet, filled with all kinds of wonderful, fresh items. I would take breakfast each morning on the terrace, by the pool. Breakfast in France is one of my favorite meals as everything is so fresh.
The Penthouse Suite
Standard room rates at the Grand Hyatt Cannes Hotel Martinez start around $435 per night, with higher rates during the peak summer season (starting around $800 per night) and additional premiums placed on seaview rooms. At the other end of the scale, the hotel boasts one of the most expensive and most amazing penthouse suites in the world, which goes for just under $40,000 per night. And that’s not a typo, the rate is about $37,500 per night. For that, you get a spacious two-bedroom, two-bathroom luxury French Riviera apartment overlooking the sea. You also get a seaview terrace, almost as large as the suite itself, with a jacuzzi tub. For the 2014 festival, the Hotel Martinez Penthouse Suite was turned into a super-VIP hospitality and party space for luxury beauty brand L’Oreal.