Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Tres Baux! New Hotel & Golf Opens June 1


Roughly eight years in development, the Domaine de Manville will open near Les Baux de Provence on June 1st. It's not every day that our little patch of paradise gets a new five-star resort, not to mention one with an 18-hole golf course, so people down here are definitely abuzz!

Set on a 100-hectare former farm in the foothills of the Alpilles Mountains, the property encompasses a five-star ''Country Palace'' hotel with 30 rooms and suites, a gastronomic restaurant and bistro, heated indoor and outdoor pools and a spa.

Surrounding the eco-certified golf course (previously a nine-hole course called Golf des Baux), are nine 2,200-sq-ft. stone-and-glass "shared ownership" Maisons which sleep six to eight each and are available for weekly (in high season) and shorter rentals. Each luxurious villa has a full living room, dining room and kitchen, along with three en suite bedrooms upstairs and a large outdoor terrace. For more info on the villas, click here and here.

Guests in the villas can enjoy all hotel facilities and amenities including the pools, a 24-hour concierge, room service, a 3K hiking trail, yoga, personal trainer, electric and mountain bikes, a private ten-seat cinema, meeting rooms and a Mini Club for kids aged 2 to 7, based in two colorful gypsy caravans under the pines.

The hotel will be soft opening from June 1st onwards, with rooms and suites 15% off until July 1st. Hotel guests can golf as of June but the course officially opens to the public in September.

The Domaine de Manville is overlooked by Les Baux, the beautiful medieval hilltop village with an atmospheric, ruined château up top.  It's a fabulous setting, within an hour's drive of popular tourist areas such as St. Remy (10 to 15 min), Avignon, Arles, the Camargue, Aix, Isle-sur-la-Sorgue and the Luberon.

Surrounding the domaine, wine lovers will find the 12 gorgeous wine estates that comprise the Baux-de-Provence DOC or Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée; virtually all are open for visits and tasting. An hour or so up the road are Châteauneuf du Pape, Gigondas, Vacqueyras and the other famous villages of the Côtes du Rhone.

This is also serious olive country, where expansive farms produce oils and other olive products carrying the highly regarded "Vallée des Baux de Provence" AOC designation.

Opening Domaine de Manville fulfills ''a lifelong dream" for owners Patrick and Edith Saut, who both come from Maussane, a small, pretty village just down the road. Careers took them off to Paris (where Patrick ran the huge 9000-employee company called NGE) but they always kept the family home in Maussane...and are now based there again full time.

"Even when we lived away from our beloved Alpilles," Patrick explains, "we still dreamt of olive groves, vineyards and the countryside of pine and rock. We still heard the sound of the Provence wind and we knew that we'd come back one day. When we discovered Manville, we knew this was the place. Everything was here: the architecture, the local products, the food – all we had to do was work with it. This is our home and we want our guests to feel exactly the same, that this is their home too."

The name Domaine de Manville pays homage to Louis-Alexandre Blanc de Manville, who, in 1908, built a modern agriculture complex on this land with classic Provencal agricultural architecture: large rectangular stone buildings in a U-shape around a beautiful courtyard planted with ancient plane trees.

The Sauts and their architects felt that preserving the history was essential and made sure to maintain the integrity of both the original property and the natural surroundings. Even the golf course was built to respect the terrain – the greens and fairways geometrically shaped to resemble fields and meant to evolve with the seasons rather than staying green year round.

Meanwhile local designer Annie Zéau did the interiors--no two rooms alike--using natural materials (stone, wood, woven reeds) and local furniture and antiques. A number of rooms have mezzanine floors, ideal for families or groups of friends. Her goal, Annie says, was to create something "deeply comfortable, contemporary, spacious, uncluttered and intrinsically Provençal."

And what about the food glorious food? The chef is Steve Deconinck, formerly of the Michelin-starred Chez Bru in nearby Eygalières.  Born and raised in Ypres, Belgium, Deconinck's impressive CV includes time in the kitchens of superstar chefs Ferran Adrià and Marc Veyrat.  The cuisine will be modern Provençal, he says, low in "food miles" and rich with the flavors of the terroir: "From the vineyards, the kitchen garden, the Friday aioli, apricots, rosemary honey, tomatoes and strawberries from Carpentras – all bursting with sunshine." 

The gourmet restaurant will serve lunch and dinner every day in high season, then switch to dinner only when the weather cools. A bistro will serve lunch only, year round. Both are open to the public as well as hotel guests.

The hotel's general manager is Patrick Nayrolles, who was lured home to France for this job; he was  last working for the Societe des Bains de Mer as director of the Monte Carlo Beach Club on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi. Before that, he was at the famed Hotel de Paris in Monaco and the Cipriani in Venice. Born in the US to French parents, Patrick comes from some pretty serious hotelier stock: his father, now retired, was the GM of Meadowood in Napa Valley for many years, as well as of the Plaza-Athénée in New York.

The sales and marketing director is Florence Biscarrat, who worked for many years at Hôtel La Mirande in Avignon.

To design the golf course, Patrick Saut--a passionate golfer--turned to Thierry Sprecher, who's done more than 50 courses in 12 countries during a 30-year career.  The Sprecher view is that the terrain and landscape must dictate the character of the course. The fairways will evolve with each season, rather than staying green all year. Olive trees and streams provide natural obstacles. Greens fees range from 35€ (nine holes, low season) to 72€ (18 holes, high season). A wide range of packages are available and you can see all the golf info here. The golf manager is Jeremie Picot.

“The essence of my golf courses is nature above all," Sprecher says. "It's vital to maintain harmony and extend the work of nature. Golfers should feel they are walking on a natural landscape and they should feel a bit of intimidation and a little triumph too. I like to create courses that look and feel old, even though they are new. I like to feel they have existed for many years”.

Double rooms at Domaine de Manville begin at €275 per night, with breakfast extra at 28€ per person. 

Domaine de Manville
Les Baux-de-Provence, France
Tel: + 33 (0)4 90 54 40 20
contact@domainedemanville.fr
www.domainedemanville.fr

*Note, my company, Provence Post Travel, would be delighted to assist you with booking rooms at Domaine de Manville, at no cost to you. Email me: provenceblog@aol.com.

Photos: 1. At Domaine de Manville, the original farmhouse dates to the early 1900s. 2: The ethereally beautiful village of Les Baux overlooks the property. 3: Edith and Patrick Saut came home to Provence to develop and run Domaine de Manville, fulfilling a lifelong dream. 4: A guestroom. 5: The 9-hole Golf des Baux was transformed into the new 18-hole course. 6: Guestroom. 7: Nine rental villas called Maisons are for sale (under shared ownership) and for rent. 8, 9: Two views of the landscape. 10-13: These pretty plates are the work of chef Steve Deconinck, a Belgian chef who worked with Ferran Andria, Marc Veyrat and, most recently, Wout Bru in nearby Eygalieres. 14: Taken in 1965, the B&W photo shows Edith with siblings and cousins at the family vineyard during harvest. (She's at the far left with a cousin on her lap.) The fourth-generation Domaine de Quatre Amours was begun by Edith's grandparents and is now run by her parents and youngest sister. It's between Pezenas and Gignac in the Hérault region of the Languedoc and yes, the wines are served at the new hotel. 15. Patrick and Edith Saut with their kids and grandkids.

7 comments:

  1. Lovely, I can't wait to stay here!

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  2. On my biking route! Let's go for lunch or dinner soon!

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  3. Wonderful post! And it couldn't have come at a better time. We just had some guests ask us to recommend a luxury hotel within an hour of where we are - this fits the bill and then some!

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  4. What a welcome addition to the Alpilles. Can't wait to visit. Nutmeg, I'll join you!

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  5. Lovely, and a new place to enjoy on our next (17th) trip to Provence on our way back to Les Arcs sur Argens and our cozy stone house. Thanks for such a comprehensive article.

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