Ultima Cannes Le Grand Jardin: the island hideaway competing to be the Cote d’Azur’s most exclusive villa

By John O’Ceallaigh

Though heavily impacted by C***d regulations, the Cannes Film Festival is taking place IRL this year. While it may not be the most egalitarian of occasions, its resumption will be a relief to the citizens of the city, who heavily rely on events like this for their livelihoods. It’s also a positive harbinger for those of us in the luxury-travel industry who attend ILTM (International Luxury Travel Market) every December, and it will additionally be very welcome news for the team at Ultima Collection. Founded in Switzerland in 2016, the nascent group’s portfolio of ultra-high-end private villas, residences and hotels will expand in spring 2022 with the opening of Ultima Cannes Le Grand Jardin. Set to be one of the most exclusive and extravagant villas on the Cote d’Azur, its success is rather reliant on super-rich people wanting to congregate in and around Cannes long into the future.

The villa’s exclusivity is partially a result of its location. Within a walled estate, the home is the only private property on the car-free island of Sainte-Marguerite, which is the largest of the four islands within the Lérins archipelago and lies about 10 minutes from Cannes by speedboat. 

Its oldest components dating back to the 13th century, Le Grand Jardin comprises the Governor’s House, its hub, alongside a turreted watchtower with a roof terrace and an ancillary guest house. In total there will be 11 bedrooms, with the most impressive suites spread across the Governor’s House and The Tower. Multiple outdoor dining areas will allow guests to take full advantage of the region’s reliably wonderful weather and there’ll also be an open-air cinema and a spa. Experienced Ultima chefs will be on hand to create meals that are as simple or elaborate as guests desire. Alongside buyouts for corporate events and showstopper industry parties, Ultima Collection is anticipating major interest from friends and families celebrating milestone birthdays, weddings and anniversaries.

Le Grand Jardin’s bucolic branding refers to its surroundings, with the property enveloped by a 14,000sq metre botanical park, abundant with palms, olive and fruit trees, roses, geraniums and irises. Landscaped walkways will lead through the grounds and the island of Sainte-Marguerite is itself two miles long so there’ll be plenty of room to roam for houseguests who want some quiet time.

That said, while Le Grand Jardin is the only property on the island available to hire for overnight stays, its occupants may not be the only ones there. Visitors are increasingly drawn to the island to visit British artist Jason deCaires Taylor’s underwater sculpture garden, inaugurated off the island’s coastline in 2020, and to visit its two restaurants. The more lauded of the two, old-school La Guérite has operated from this setting since 1902 and now additionally operates outlets in St Barts and the beautiful D Maris Bay resort in Turkey. 

Rates for Ultima Collection’s Ultima Cannes Le Grand Jardin will start from €260,000 (£220,000) per week. 

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