ST. TROPEZ, France (TheStreet) -- Among trendy Paris hotels appealing to hip-hop stars and actress fashionistas, Hotel Sezz has long been a favorite. Now, as the latest in a wave of Parisian hoteliers invading St. Tropez, Hotel Sezz Saint-Tropez is a hit -- and it doesn't even officially open until Bastille Day, July 14.
Just last year the owners of Murano Hotels & Resorts (Murano Paris, Murano Marrakech, KUBE Paris) debuted the boutique Kube St. Tropez with its Grey Goose-sponsored ICE Bar and one of the town's only sea-facing swimming pools. Two years before that, designer Patrick Jouin (Jules Verne, Alessi, Alain Ducasse) refurbished the
to local acclaim.
But owner Shahe Kalaidjian, architect Jean-Jacques Ory and designer Christophe Pillet have matched their inspired takes on resort concepts along the French Riviera.
Hotel Sezz makes its home well outside St. Tropez's coveted port, where the Byblos Hotel rules supreme and the restaurant
has made a splashy debut. It's along a narrow two-way residential street, down winding back roads offering easier access to beach clubs such as Tahiti than to town, and it makes the most of the setting: a walled property accessed through stylized hedges and sliding gate drawn around a futuristic swimming pool and outdoor bar.
Sezz St. Tropez has one-story architecture rare to local hotels (although not to its stately neighbors, such as the Benkirai). It hugs the ground around that sleek pool, with its infinity edges and central cubist stone element. A pristine lobby with metal-framed walls of glass allow the outdoors and indoors to blend among Pillet-designed furnishings,
chairs and lounge furnishings nodding toward modish '50s design.
In lieu of red carpet, natural stone floors lead to Colette, a white-glove eatery that, open to hotel guests and nonguests alike, has become the buzz of the St. Tropez summer season. Colette is led by three-star Michelin chef Pierre Gagnaire, who -- even if rarely present -- maintains culinary fortitude through contact with local farmers as well as approved food purveyors throughout Provence. The Mediterranean menu is served in a 60-seat dining room with terrace, as well as at poolside and through room service.
If the luster of Gagnaire's name wasn't enough, Sezz has one-upped the partnership of the nearby Kube Hotel and Grey Goose with its own
-sponsored Le Bar. It also serves poolside, from an outdoor cabana bar, and there's an even snazzier indoor champagne lounge that offers an evening DJ scene throughout July and August. Le Bar has sparked a lively summertime champagne society that has the locals talking.
A total of 37 guest rooms are contained within inventive bungalows that blend into the Provencal landscape. Rooms are quintessential Pillet, with spaces that feel more
St. Tropez eclectic
. His own signature designs are used for floating shelves and beds built into the wall, and there are abstract light fixtures by
Five entry-level level bungalow rooms measure around 300 square feet, 30% larger than those in the Paris original, but feel quite a bit bigger given the integrated outdoor terraces with
garden furnishings. The terraces almost double the rooms' size. The 30 Cocoon rooms making up the bulk of the property are even larger, with integrated lounge areas and walled terraces big enough for entertaining from in-room iPod-powered Boffi sound systems. Top-end room options include two villas with even pricier perks, such as personal plunge pools and complete privacy from outside eyes.
Bathrooms follow the current trend for open-flow spaces, with glass dividers for privacy. All are accessorized with Kiehl's products, still a novelty in France, with larger Cocoons boasting their own soaking tubs and additional terraces from the bathroom.
Le Spa Sezz complements the bohemian vibe of the resort. There are morning and sunset yoga classes -- in an inspiring light-filled room during colder months and outside in a courtyard during warmer weather. There are two treatment rooms, in addition to an outdoor massage table, that offer body and facial treatments with products provided by
. Visitors can save euros by using the free steam room and indoor Jacuzzi. A white-glove butler service will perform in-room candle-lighting and pillow "menus."
The pros and cons of the location become obvious the closer one visits to the August high season. Hotel Sezz's distance from the Pampelonne beach clubs and activities of the port means a taxi ride or rental car is needed to get anywhere without having to synchonize activities with the in-house electric-powered guest shuttle. Traffic in July and August make the effort to go anywhere by car appalling. The walk into town is a long one, but it's downhill. Just avoid the uphill walk back.
Rates range from 450 to 2,200 euros -- or $569 to $2,776 -- less than such beloved luxury palaces as the Byblos and more in line with the Benkerai or Kube. But Hotel Sezz has a once-in-a-lifetime chef and built-in bar scene blessed by Dom Perignon.
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Michael Martin is the managing editor of JetSetReport.com, a luxury travel and lifestyle guide based in Los Angeles and London. His work has appeared in InStyle, Blackbook, Elle and U.K.'s Red magazine and on ITV and BBC.