by Avril O’Connor
Few of us would ever consider holidaying for a fortnight in a 5* hotel on the swanky Côte d’Azur. That’s because we’ve been given the impression that it can only be afforded by the mega wealthy, owners of superyachts and Ferraris, film stars and ageing tax exiles. But that picture is far from the truth.
Of course you will see yachts – of all kinds – Roman Abramovich’s Eclipse was anchored off Antibes while we were there. And we were able to get a good view of the world’s second largest yacht which boasts 2 swimming pools, 2 helicopters, a submarine etc etc. And we did that from a little glass bottom tour boat which also gets so close to the exclusive luxury hotels on the nearby Roc that we can see the indignant looks on the faces of the bathers on their loungers.
But there is another side lovely side to this area – places that the ordinary working folk who live there know about and would rather we didn’t. And I don’t blame them. Like the folks of London’s Notting Hill who decant elsewhere during the carnival to escape people doing all kinds of despicable things in their front gardens, the people of Cannes flee the town during the Film Festival. So its not all red carpet glamour, especially if you live and work there!
Cannes has shops with reasonable prices and one of the best food markets I have ever seen (near the station) and an array of great budget hotels and bed and breakfast’s (there is a list in the tourist office in the Palais des Festival). The local tourism body is very keen for us to see the everyday value-for-money side of the this town.
I was recently pleasantly surprised to find that even the exclusive headland area, between Nice and Cannes, called Cap d’Antibes – home to even more expensive hotels, such as the Hotel du Cap – Eden Roc where Sharon Stone was celebrating when we popped in – also has undiscovered gems.
The 4* Baie des Anges Hotel is one. Set within a pine forest on a hill, it has a spectacular view of the bay all the way to Nice. It is slightly secluded but the hotel runs a regular mini-bus service to the town of Antibes with its bougainvilla clad houses, tiny alleyways, restaurants, market, bustling port and the Picasso Museum.
Baie des Anges underwent a complete renovation over nine months in 2013 which moved it up from a 3 to 4 star hotel. It also boasts a gastronomique restaurant – l’Angelus,with panoramic views of the coast. It’s lunchtime when we arrive and relaxed enough to allow guests who have been lounging around the pools or enjoying the spa to eat in their towelling robes.
The menu uses seasonal local produce with some cocktails reflecting the wellness theme with essential oils! But old habits die hard since for me since a Kir Royale epitomises the Côte.
The hotel has 164 rooms (suits and some apartments) – all with a balcony and air conditioning; three salt water swimming pools and one of the best thalassotherapy centres and spas in the region – it was also the first sea water spa on the Mediterranean coast for more than 20 years.
The thalasso spa is enormous with two inside heated salt water pools with bubbling seats and underwater jets, a Jacuzzi, a Turkish bath and an extensive menu of treatments for health and relaxation. There is also a fully equipped gym.
During our visit the nearby town of Juan les Pins was buzzing with the annual Jazz Festival where Stevie Wonder and George Benson were billing, so we went in quest of peaceful santuary to recouperate in the spa for the day.
Our recommended programme included:
- Gommage Sous Affusion – body exfoliation,using marine plants which improves the circulation and cleans the skin to prepare for the treatments
- Enveloppement D’Algues Remineralisante – the body is enveloped in hot seaweed and mud. Next you are wrapped in a hot blanket while the body detoxes and hydrates. Total bliss as you fall asleep enveloped in the warm water blanket.
- Bain hydromassant – a warm, very active bubbling bath of seawater with massage jets
- Modelage “Aroma” – a lovely massage with Mediterranean essential oils from Provence.
We also tried the hydro-bike exercise class – which was a bit like a spin class underwater. The day was well spent and we felt cleansed and relaxed by the time we left.
This spa has treatments for everyone including new mothers (and fathers) and babies; slimming and nutrition, detox and anti-stress. It also has various packages and special offers. It also welcomes guests who simply want a spa day at the hotel.
For those who don’t just want to lie around there is plenty to do and not too far to go to do it. There is Marineland – the only one in Europe; the village of Grasse, famous for its perfume shops and a trip to old Nice is a must.
I really liked this hotel – everything was clean, the rooms were spacious, the staff were chatty, and nothing was too much for the spa therapists, the food was great – and the fellow guests were normal people, a few with children, who came to relax rather than make a splash with their cash.
Hôtel Baie des Anges Thalassotherapy Hotel & Spa
770 chemin des Moyennes Bréguières
T: +33 492918200
F: +33 493659414
Price: Depends on season but can be as low as 200 euros per night.
Road: A8, Antibes exit, Sophia-Antipolis, Vallauris/follow A8 access road for 1km/take the D35 from the A8 motorway exit.
Train: Antibes is 3km away
Bus: from the airport to Antibes (2 euros)