Passion for perfection, attention to detail, understated elegance, modesty, respect and care for the staff – have been at the heart of Mme Maja Oetker’s philosophy to preserve and enhance the reputation of Hotel du Cap Eden Roc, THE most prestigious luxury hotel on the French Riviera, ever since her late husband, Rudolf Augustus Oekter purchased the property in in 1964, without even visiting it.
For the Oetker family, the hotel was not a trophy or a fulfilment of a personal social status ambition. As Mrs Oekter remembers, while sailing in the Cap d’Antibes in 1964, when passing by the ‘La Villa Soleil’ (as it was then known), her husband would say ‘You see, this is one of the most famous hotels on the Cote d’Azur. It is very beautiful, but it is too expensive for us’. Then, in a short while, he would buy the hotel, without even visiting it first. She once said ‘We never regretted buying the hotel! And we wish that this maison would forever be loved and taken care, as we do’.
And the Oetker family has remained most discreet in their hotel business, leaving it up to their team of professional hoteliers. The Oetker Collection today includes iconic luxury properties such as Le Bristol Paris, Brenners Park in Baden Baden or the Palais Namaskar in Marrakech.
The fame, the timeless elegance and glamour and world’s most famous personalities, from actors to writers, royalty and heads of state – have always been attracted to Eden Cap Roc, but their patronage has always come as natural. Speaking to one of the Maître d’Hôtel, during my stay, who had been working for the Eden Cap Roc for more than 20 years, he told me ‘This is such a special place. It has always been such a loved place and I remember the days when famous families would stay for at least a month, taking up an entire floor of the hotel. But you know, today, it is as hard to get a table as it was back then….’
It is this immense passion for their work and the care by the owners and management which make up this team, which I perceived as being a family. While they treat guests with the utmost respect, they are genuinely warm, friendly and create a unique bond with each and every client. Exceeding expectations is what the team achieves in any corner of the hotel and at any time of the day. It’s a simple gesture, a smile or their impeccable uniform and their perfectly groomed stature, which impresses each and every guests – and why? Because it is genuine !
It is this unique feeling of care which I experienced while staying at the Hotel du Cap Eden Roc – I found myself attentive to each detail in the room, like it was my very own home. It took me great pleasure to put ice in the vase with a beautiful bouquet of roses, to keep them fresh… More than any decorative piece, flowers adorn the entire hotel and are truly a feast for the eyes.
The calming and serene effect of the flowers, the sound of the sea and the singing birds in the lavish gardens make you pause and unwillingly unwind and relax. And for me, a stay in such a beautiful place is made up of these moments, which time turns into memories (my suite at the hotel)- relaxing by the pool or on the chaiselong in your private terrace, reading a book and feeling the scent of an exquisit organic candle, enjoying the piano while dining ‘above the sea’ gazing at Cannes, at sunset, in the distance or pampering yourself to a private cabana, which instantly takes you back in time to 1938 when Marlene Dietrich would find ‘refuge’ in her private cabana at the hotel, away from the paparazzi.
Dining at any of the venues at Cap Eden Roc is about ”cuisine de caprice’ – simple, tasty, yet satisfying the most extravagant cravings. If back in those days a Russian prince would request a ‘mountain of strawberries’, today, the Hotel du Cap Eden Roc is welcoming guests to its brand new Champagne Lounge, a newly built terrace lounge, open only in the evenings and serving 6 types of champagnes. The spectacular panoramic views of the gardens, the swimming pool and the entire Cap d’Antibes will surely be the attraction of many summer seasons to come.
While on my way to the SPA, where I had an amazing massage treatment with organic oils by Bamford (Lady Bamford herself, a long time patron of the hotel), I noticed construction work behind the two tennis courts where two gentlemen were playing. A passing-by staff told me, it’s the ‘usual’ tent which is being built for the Amfar Gala, THE most important social event of each edition of the Cannes Film Festival, taking place every year in May.
Witness to some of the most prestigious events and host to some of most famous celebrities of the time, Hotel du Cap Eden Roc has not only been an ‘ambassador’ of the times. It has never just kept up with the times but it has always been ahead of times, strongly anchored by modernity. One of the best illustration of the hotel being an ‘ambasador of its time’ is Karl Lagerfeld short movie for CHANEL (The Tale of a Fairy) which he shot at the Hotel du Cap Eden Roc in 2011.
The recent renovation has not only achieved to maintain intact the iconic spirit of the hotel but it has also added the ‘must have’s’ of a 21st century luxury hotel – state of the art fully integrated Apple entertainment system with Loewe LED Tvs, high speed wi-fi internet throughout the entire hotel, automatic control of air-conditioning (most silent), shutters, lighting and bathroom floor heating.
Impeccable sound-proofing (both indoors and outdoors), perfect water pressure in the oversized walk-in rain shower, organic bathroom amenities (including salts and pure oils) and the finest organic cotton linens and towels – can naturally be considered a standard for the Cap Eden Roc. Most of the antique furniture, lamps and has been meticulously restored, while Mrs Oekter has been personally involved with interior design – such as hand sewn and embroidered upholstery, curtains, furniture pieces and reconditioning of carpets and wooden floors.
One of the most famous patrons of the hotel was painter Marc Chagall, a guest of the hotel for more than 15 years… He was known for never signing autographs but one day, when he was sick, one of the porters of the hotel offered to bring him medicine after he finished his shift. The young porter eventually got a postcard with an autograph of the famous painter, he would always call Master (‘Maître’). At the Hotel du Cap Roc, the painter would expect to be called Maître, never ‘Monsieur’…
*a comprehensive photo gallery is available on our Facebook page
Oliver Petcu in Cap d’Antibes
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