On St. Tropez, Hotel Byblos Still Has It All


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A summer stay in St. Tropez, for many, isn't just a tradition -- it's a rite of passage.

Since 1967 the Byblos Hotel has been luring pop stars, everyday billionaires and travel elite. What's more, the hotel recently emerged with a new spa, updated restaurants and renovated pool area made even hotter for 2008.

What To Expect

Byblos is located within the inner village, walking distance to the port and shops even for those in mile-high stilettos. This comes in handy when the compact streets of St. Tropez come to a standstill of Maseratis and Ferraris during summer.

Dress to impress: Think "summer sexy" rather than "dressy." Stylish French travelers arrive in fluffy white linen, sparkly sandals and chunky Rolexes, making their entrance down the stone staircase leading to the main lobby.

The First Impression

Byblos-virgins are pleasantly surprised to discover the laid-back luxury of the hotel despite all its tabloid hype. Cobbled tile floors and pastel stucco walls surround a relaxed lobby of oriental rugs, plasma-screen TVs and local antiques collected by the Chevanne-family over the hotel's 40-year history.

The front desk is exceptionally organized by a meticulous concierge able to secure next-day reservations at hot beach clubs like La Voile Rouge or evening bottle service at the in-house nightclub. Watching over everything is manager Stephane Personeni, who greets guests personally in a dapper khaki suit and refreshing French rapport.

Finding Your Room

If arriving in July or August, you'll be thankful for any room you can get -- 95 in all -- arranged around the signature inner courtyard modeled after a Mediterranean village. The Byblos is a sexy meeting of old and new -- and nowhere is that meeting more evident than in the guest rooms.

Accessed by heavy limed doors, dramatic rafted ceilings contain hand-sewn carpeting with small settee sofas and Chippendale chairs cast in Tiffany blue and pale yellow.

Closets are built for long summer stays, with wooden drawers and plenty of space for trunk-size packers. Bathrooms are lined in royal blue tiles with double basin sinks adorned with collection of toiletries wrapped in his and her mini-beach bags.

In-Room Amenities

Speedy Wi-fi is free of charge. The mini-bar is a collection of one-off gourmet goodies, bottles of premium champagne and high-end Sisley cosmetics including an after-sun skin serum.

Rich people are not patient. On-demand room service equates to a morning espresso or evening bottle of Rose in less than five minutes -- evidence of a tight operation rigorously tested by one of the most demanding clienteles in the hospitality business.

Hit the Pool

While summer in St. Tropez means a daytime exodus to the area beach club, many guests prefer to stay at the recently renovated poolside in the main courtyard of the hotel. Rattan loungers and sunbeds are arranged around a free-form pool with tanning platform encrusted with a mosaic of the Byblos logo. Free of wailing kids in snorkel masks, the oh-so-chic crowd ranges from supermodel show-offs in string bikinis to ultra-reclusive celebrities who defer to the in-house security for the utmost of privacy.

Two Great Eateries

Byblos is home to two great eateries, each with a new menu and refreshed look for the 2008 season. Located at the edge of the resort property is Spoon, an Alain Ducasse restaurant designed by Parisian architect Patrick Jouin, who also designed the bar at the Plaza Athenee and Jules Verne.

The restaurant is an indoor-outdoor space arranged in oversize club chairs covered in wavy-white fabric under a candlelit canopy of lanterns dangling from mature shade trees. The new menu has been streamlined into a gourmet mix-and-match of Mediterranean cuisine with a global twist.

Additionally, B. Restaurant, formerly known as Bayader, offers a locally sourced menu of seasonal French specialties in a lively setting adjacent to the pool and outdoor lounge.

Byblos Spa and Wellbeing Center

Accessed via a private stainless-steel elevator from the main-lobby, spa-aficionados are carried to the new Byblos Spa located within a newly constructed sun-filled atrium. A series of individual treatment rooms are arranged around an inner courtyard of teak loungers and trickling waterfall as spa guests lounge around in thick terrycloth robes freshly scrubbed, rubbed and exfoliated with signature Sisley cosmetics.

The Byblos maintains a higher level of privacy for spa guests than most U.S. facilities, with in-room changing facilities that offer as little interaction as desired. Fitness fanatics will find one of the best-equipped hotel gyms in France, arranged in a oxygen-enhanced room of walnut floors offering a custom collection of cardio-equipment with individual LCD-screens, pilates area and free-weights perfect for getting a pre-beach tone.

Oh-la-la Nightlife

Les Caves du Roy is the in-house nightclub of the Byblos, a modern-day interpretation of Studio 54 with a coveted VIP area and neon-lit dance floor fueled by magnums of Cristal and mixes by DJ JackE.

Last year the club made headlines, as Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes were rumored to have been turned away from the famed nightclub.

The club fills to capacity almost every night forcing billionaires and even celebrities to either trim their security detail or rely on the Byblos' own security muscle while at the club. It's a magnet for celebs like Mariah Carey, Jay-Z and Saudi princes who have no problem sharing multiple bottles of 50,000-Euro Cristal with everyone in the VIP circle.

Just keep in mind that Les Caves du Roy is open daily during July and August, but only on the weekends during shoulder season.

What's the Real Deal?

St. Tropez and its prized Byblos Hotel are so intertwined that it's difficult to imagine which came first. Rates start at €315 in shoulder season and €490 during high season with minimum stays that are sold out months in advance.

While for many guests money is no object, everyone else should scout out September and October for better deals, smaller crowds and summertime fun that lasts longer and longer every year.

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