Situated directly on the vast sandy beach of Pampelonne, a short distance from Saint Tropez, Kon Tiki resort provides you the illusion of traveling to white Polynesian sands. I would have preferred to take a long haul flight in normal years and explore the original version. Enter COVID-19, and this has suddenly become the next best thing.
Pampelonne beach is world-famous for its beach restaurants like Club Les Palmiers, my personal favorite, Club 55, Nikki Beach, or Cabane Bambou. The Kon Tiki resort is installed directly on the waterfront with many huts right onto the sand, so you can easily access these establishments and experience the party atmosphere of the Cote d’Azur in high season.
I stayed in a Tiki Hut with a view over the vineyards, which is all about privacy and a more subdued ambiance. They feature quirky and summery interiors and even have a jacuzzi styled pool. I quite liked the headboards in the master and the kid’s room, very crafty in style.
Hotel Crillon Le Brave is situated at the Provence’s core and is even more at the essence of its namesake village. The staple hotel is housed in nine different houses, beautifully combined into one cohesive complex. The entire town is built in honey-colored stone, giving a very modern feel to the village.
Charles Zana was hired in 2019 by the Pariente family, who acquired the hotel from its previous owners in 2017. The recent remodel honors the idyllic context and identity of the property, yet propels it to a new era of Provence modernity.
Mama Shelter is a collection of lively, unique, and quirky places around the world, with in the USA, an outpost in Los Angeles. Created by the Trigano family, Mama Shelter aims to settle in the very heart of the cities it falls in love with and offer its guests a unique experience through design.
I visited the location in Marseille, designed by Philippe Starck. It’s a remarkably fun concept, and I especially fell in love with the cactus patio.
Vineyard hotels are popping up left and right in Europe, with many choosing to become contemporary chic design statements in their own right. This trend is primarily started by Marques de Riscal when they approached Frank Gehry for their hotel after he completed the Guggenheim in Bilbao. (I’ll be visiting that vineyard estate soon, so check back here for updates)
It does offer an enchanting proposition; you get ultra-quiet surroundings, rolling hills planted with vines, and (usually) excellent wine. In the case of Ultimate Provence, the domain takes set in the backcountry of the St-Tropez peninsula. This trip will take you about 45 mins and, most likely, a few Tums after going through all the extremely windy roads. Once settled, you’ll discover a very smartly designed hotel, which proves to be a crowd-pleaser.
Ultimate Provence hired Monaco based interior design firm Humbert & Poyet to design a sophisticated working winery, combined with a hotel with a distinctly urban and contemporary chic atmosphere. There is indeed a lively and upbeat atmosphere present, although I do question if that is the appropriate ambiance for a vineyard hotel. The estate spaces are very inviting, and I truly enjoyed the mix of a working winery (with a tasting room) and the public areas of the hotel, such as the reception desk and restaurant/lounge area. I appreciated how the designers Humbert & Poyet drew inspiration from the colors of Provence by the use of aged oak and shades of sage and sepia.
The Arlatan hotel in Arles is genuinely unique in its approach. Pharmaceutical heiress Maja Hoffmann is on a mission to transform Arles into a hotspot for creativity and young talent. She installed the second outpost of her art foundation, Luma, in the city, which dates back to the Roman Empire.
As such, she saw the need for hospitality establishments at the same level of creativity to which she aspires. She gave Cuban born artist Jorge Pardo carte blanche to create a truly unique hotel experience, in line with her ultimate goal of putting Arles on the worldwide design map.
In creating the hotel, Pardo had to combine multiple buildings dating from different historical eras into one cohesive story. In doing so, he did not strip down the design elements; rather, Pardo added plenty more. As an artist, he designed almost every object in the hotel, from the custom floor tiles to the light fixtures to the ornate staircase.
If you have a chance to visit Arles, I highly recommend staying at this hotel. Or even grab lunch or dinner, it’s delicious.
On my recent tour in the South of France, I made a two day stop at Arles, a genuinely creative city full of young artistic talent. Maja Hoffmann, the Swiss art collector and patron to the arts, selected Arles for the second outpost of her foundation Luma. She is in the process of establishing a vast creative hub in an old train factory. A new tower by Frank Gehry will open in 2021 at the “Parc des Ateliers.”
One of the other people who has put Arles on the design map has been a fashion and interior designer, Mr. Christian Lacroix. Born in Arles, he went on to study classical literature and art history in Montpellier. Later on, he migrated towards custom design and created his own fashion house in 1987. Since the 2000s, he has been taking on very diverse design projects such as the French high-speed trains, hotels, and museums.
As a consequence, it’s only logical he designed the refurb of one of the most iconic hotels in his hometown of Arles. He found inspiration in ancient Roman street paving and mosaics for the public areas and corridors. In the rooms, he opted for details from old Persian rugs and very graphical French engravings.
Mr. Christian Lacroix and ege carpets enjoyed the collaboration on this hotel and several museums and created a strong professional relationship. The project of a permanent ege collection was started and successfully launched in 2017. This commercial carpet collection draws from the same inspiration and features graphic designs based on stone floors, mosaics, antique engravings, and elaborate textile patterns. You can learn more about the collection here.
The hugely ambitious 2,000 square-metre project preserves much of the original factory’s saw tooth roof while opening its central bays to form a terraced beer garden that has the feel of a Victorian conservatory, a hidden botanical haven to be explored.
The contemporary architecturally designed pub is a versatile space, with different rooms and areas to support varied audiences and functions. Technē Architecture + Interior Design imbues these diverse spaces with intriguing interconnections and a sense of exploration for their guests. While a front bar is still likely to be a vibrant community watering hole, bespoke dining areas and beautiful private function rooms create opportunities where the pub now services the entire hospitality spectrum, from casual get togethers to finer dining and corporate events.
The sophisticated design creates a flow between spaces diverse in function, capacity and architectural inspiration. The distinctive carpet designs all contribute to the vibrant yet cozy atmosphere not to forget superior acoustics.
Considering interior design to be an extremely powerful tool to tell the story of the former palace and create a direct dialogue with each guest, Indrė Baršauskaitė and Greta Valikonė, architects and founders of YES.design.architecture, set 4 initial goals for the restoration project:
– To tell the historic story of the building
– To unite the past and present visually
– To create a harmonic and artistic atmosphere
– To blend in Baltic culture in an authentic way
Embedding centuries in one single interior design
In the heart of Vilnius’ Old Town, home to a university, a presidential palace and an abundance of museums, embassies and not forgetting the city’s coolest spots for dining and drinking, Hotel PACAI perfectly echoes the quarter’s 17th-century baroque grandeur, yet augments it with a contemporary twist.
Opening its hotel doors in spring 2018, the palace and former residence of Lithuanian nobles Pacai, was one of the most ornate in Vilnius for a few centuries. Dating back to 1677, the palace has witnessed the times of Lithuanian-Polish Commonwealth, the rule of Russian tsars and Napoleon’s entrance to Vilnius.
Today, dressed as Hotel PACAI, the building is an oasis of cross-sensory experiences, reviving the vibe of the palace and its noble past. The hotel invites to indulge in singular architecture, lavish design in authentic Baltic colour palette and dreamy art. The restored palace has gained two more floors and is now a 5-story, 104-room hotel with a reconstructed baroque roof.
Clay, tin and original barn wood do the work
With the most of the palace’s spaces dating back centuries, the designers’ goal was to keep the history visible in a quite direct way. Thus, the existing frescoes and unique textures of the walls are emphasized through lightning.
And generally, all materials and details are specified for their elegance and classical purity. Through the resent renovation, for example, traditional materials such as clay, tin, stone and original barn wood were used. The new part of the hotel is crafted to serve as a supporting backdrop to the palace.
2 carpet stories
The historical part of the palace was revived with the help of a detailed and historically minded architectural plan. Indrė Baršauskaitė and Greta Valikonė explain: “A unique carpet design is one of the tools used to reflect the hotel concept striving at uniting the relationship between modern and historical in an authentic visual story.”
Though each carpet for the guest rooms are individual, they are grouped in 2 overall themes. Thus, some carpets reflect the relationship between old and new through patterns of well-known materials like black and white marble. With no intention of making a complete imitation, this group of designs aims at using marble as a natural inspiration to celebrate the variety and authenticity of our impressive nature.
The second design theme interprets the Baltic region’s seasonal colours by transferring the colours of each season to carpets. The designs are developed through blurred paintings created in a workshop with painters and various artists. In the process, the design team scrapped many sketches with only a few making their way to the floors.
“Each piece of carpet in the rooms, conference halls and selected corridors are original works of art created by Lithuanian painters and transferred to soft carpet. No rooms feature the same pattern so each space becomes unique and exceptional, just as every single guest.”
Indrė Baršauskaitė and Greta Valikonė, architects and founders of YES.design.architecture
“The carpet we love the most? A painted pattern in pastel colours reflecting the Baltic winter season.”
Indrė Baršauskaitė and Greta Valikonė, architects and founders of YES.design.architecture
A cozy, artistic atmosphere includes soft, deep tones in the public areas and artwork in the rooms. Soft materials as furniture fabrics, curtains and rugs were specified to avoid installing acoustic panels.