By John O’Ceallaigh
For a decade or so, I’ve visited Cannes every December for the luxury-travel conference ILTM. It’s a great event, but my frequent stays have rid me of any preconceptions that this is a glamorous city. Proper superstars may jet in for the Film Festival each summer and it’s true that the seafront is lined by the world’s fanciest fashion boutiques, but this is primarily a (coastal) conference town.
Still, Cannes’ hotel inventory has continued to improve – lots of the businesspeople attending shows think of themselves as VIPs and some of the region’s priciest rooms are found in the city. Shortly after Hyatt’s Martinez completed a refurb that significantly upgraded its interiors and endowed it with a €40,000-a-night penthouse suite, IHG has launched its first Regent Hotels property in Europe since it purchased the brand a few years back. (The extant Regent Berlin and Regent Porto Montenegro were part of Regent Hotels & Resorts when the company was acquired by IHG in 2018 and have remained operational throughout this transition.)
Occupying what was Cannes’ ornate Carlton Hotel, the reopened 1911 landmark is now know as the Carlton Cannes, A Regent Hotel. Even in its previous incarnation, the Belle Epoque building’s ornate exterior meant this was always one of the most beautiful and celebrated addresses on the Croisette promenade, but interior designer Tristan Auer and IHG architects have spent the last two years making sure the interior is fully shipshape. I toured the property during its renovation and it really did feel like every detail was under consideration. The property has returned with two new wings (housing residences); an enclosed garden with 22,000 plants and flowers; the city’s largest hotel infinity pool (lined by handmade cabanas); and a 900sqm fitness and spa complex called The C Club, which features a full-size boxing ring among its facilities.
The revived hotel also features a much-improved inventory, now incorporating 332 rooms and suites. Just 72 have a sea view – and it’s so good from here, metres from the beach, that you might feel short-changed without it. Each room contains a ‘Refreshment Gallery’ (posh minibar) so that guests can nibble contentedly on various gourmet snacks if they’re lingering indoors taking in the panorama. A number of signature suites, such as The Cary Grant Suite and The Kirk Douglas Suite are named after celebs who’ve visited Cannes in the past. There’s The Grace Kelly Suite too, not to be confused with Hotel de Paris’s incredible Princess Grace Suite relatively nearby in Monaco. Proper film buffs might like The Alfred Hitchcock Suite, the exact room where Kelly and Grant kissed in To Catch a Thief.
Besides that, there are three restaurants and bars, an afternoon-tea lounge and a cigar lounge. All-day The Riviera Restaurant will serve Mediterranean food (which is pretty much a compulsory dining option if you’re opening a hotel in Cannes); a sibling to the eponymous restaurants in Dubai and London, Ruya will serve Anatolian cuisine and will be the first restaurant of its kind in the French Riviera. Open year-round, the Carlton Beach Club will make the most of the region’s reliably sunny weather – the lobster rolls come recommended.
But perhaps the hotel’s biggest test of credibility will come during successive Film Festivals, when the roll call of mega-watt film stars, directors and producers in residence goes some way towards indicating respective properties’ desirability. And recognition of Regent’s credentials should grow steadily as IHG rebuilds the portfolio. The first purpose-built new-era Regent, Regent Phu Quoc in Vietnam, has consistently received rave reviews. The long-awaited Regent Hong Kong is pretty much ready for its reopening. A Regent Bali and Regent Shanghai will open later this year.
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