By Sissi Macchetto
“Card keys—jamais! The key is the tie that binds the client and the concierge.” Philippe Perd, Director, Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc
Settings: Cap d’Antibes, 1889-today
Leading actors: It was Hippolyte de Villemessant, the founder of France’s Le Figaro newspaper, who built the Villa Soleil in 1869 for writers seeking inspiration. In 1887, the Piedmontese Italian hotelier Antoine Sella bought the property, and opened the Grand Hôtel du Cap two years later. In 1914, the Eden Roc pavillion was incorporated, built 400 yards away from the main hotel. In 1970 André Sella, Antoine’s son, decided to sell to Rudolf August Oetker a German industrialist, and his wife Maja von Malaisé, who remains the sole proprietor to this day.
Plot: Tender is the night at Hotel du Cap Eden Roc, for American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. In the midway between Cannes and Monaco “The large, proud, rose-colored hotel” on the French Riviera has been a golden retreat for the super famous of the world over the past two centuries A favourite of aristocrats and socialites, artists and writers during the 30s, it has become in recent times the exclusive haven of Hollywood stars and celebrities. The rooms where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge once honeymooned, hosted Tom Hanks and Cate Blanchett during the Cannes Film Festival; the Cabanas where Marc Chagall sketched his days away, recently served as a set for Nicole Kidman’s rarefied fashion shoot. Time goes by and the now white stain-colored hotel still enchants with its compelling charm. Even if it recently went through a massive refurbishment, efforts and money were implied to make it appear as if nothing had been renovated. The hotel’s strict social codes also remain firmly nostalgic: decorum has always been a hallmark (Kate Moss was once banned from the hotel for wearing a bikini in the hallways). For many years credit cards were not accepted, only cash, an elitist policy that was dropped only in 2006. Rules and codes are part of Hotel du Cap’s own heritage and they make its fortune: “..that white-gloved posture has helped the hotel preserve its most precious asset—the sepia-toned atmosphere that evokes a bygone era of travel, when people dressed up to take a plane” (The Wall Street Journal)
Chanel model Marie-Hélène Arnaud, photographed poolside in 1957 ©Georges Dambier
Dani Geneux (left) and Marie-Eugenie Gaudfrin sunbathing at the Hotel du Cap Eden-Roc, Antibes, France, August 1976 ©Slim Aarons