By Shereen Shabnam
I fell in love with Biarritz the minute I got off the train. Facing the Ocean Atlantic and on the beach “La Grande Plage de Biarritz” near the city center of Biarritz, the prestigious sea side deluxe Hotel du Palais of Biarritz was breathtaking at first sight.
Walking into the reception area, I had images of the past filled with memories of Gala evenings and stately affairs of the past era. During one of my visits to France over the last few years, I go back in time when I experienced the best of all that a luxury resort can offer at Hotel du Palais.
During meals where I was never left alone, I found that luxury travellers come from all over the world, all year long to enjoy this fabulous setting, warm welcome, elite service, charm and comfort. It is indeed a living souvenir of the history of Biarritz, France and Europe. The “Villa Eugénie”, now the Hotel du Palais, was constructed in 1855 by Napoléon III for his wife Eugénie de Montijo.
No matter how many times I go back to France, the memory of this visit is as fresh and alive in my mind. The clear blue sea at my doorstep reminded me of my home country, Fiji Islands. I still visualise the elegance is deco in every corner from the entrance to my breakfast table where I enjoyed writing while gazing at the blue waters overlooking the hotel.
The main hall, the private salons, the dining room and the grounds have all maintained their Second Empire style. A style that defines Biarritz and assures its reputation as an amazing sea resort, it is this charm, touched with elegance, deluxe and personal that makes this hotel one of a kind.
Biarritz is a little city that has it all. Lively with its casinos, its greens (the region has ten 18 holes golf courses and an International training center, unique in Europe), its boutiques, and the rich green hillsides and its gentle year-round climate.
This picturesque seaside town became a favourite with European royalty in the 19th Century, who fell in love with its pretty beaches, warm climate and relaxed atmosphere. The Hotel du Palais has played host to stars of screen and other luminaries since the 1950s and 60s and offers a timeless glamour and luxury rarely found in today’s resorts.
Biarritz has a lot of beautiful buildings to offer today amongst which, the Hotel du Palais stand out. It’s a vibrant cosmopolitan town with magnificent beaches, golf courses and numerous sporting facilities, not forgetting the surf. Surfing started in France here in Biarritz and surfers come from all over the world to ride the waves.
The Hotel du Palais has practiced and perfected the art of receiving people. In the public areas and guest rooms the original Second Empire style has been retained, with period furniture, original works of art and high decorated ceilings. This is the place to stay for the ultimate Biarritz experience. Guests can lounge by the pool with a cocktail, or head to the nearby beach for some sunbathing, surfing or people-watching.
I enjoyed the world of the Spa Imperial with Guerlain dedicated to well-being, relaxation and fitness. It is the most transforming and customized Spa experience, where cutting edge innovation unites with luxury, emotion and sensuality. It comes with an indoor swimming pool, sauna, stream rooms, fitness center and a beauty parlour with a Hair Care Institute.
Food in France is always a talking point and the great dining experience at the hotel’s restaurants and lounges provide guests with an unforgettable culinary experience. Among the facilities available at the hotel is a foreign exchange service, safe deposit boxes, telex, photocopy, fax and secretariat services. Other Business centre facilities at the hotel include computers for guest use and in room facilities include voice mail, fax machine on request, work desk and modem point.
Executive rooms in addition boast butler service and express check out. L’Hotel du Palais also boasts a selection of reception rooms which can host from 14 to 500 people in various settings – ideal for meetings, seminars or launch parties
All reservations for tickets, sightseeing tours, shows etc are available from the Concierge. For guest convenience, there is also a babysitting as well as medical assistance. The hotel also has a boutique, hairdresser, heated sea-water swimming-pool with direct access to the beach, solarium, sauna and a golf pitching green. For the active guests, there is the option of playing tennis, golf and horse riding.
There are a number of interesting museums in the area, including the Biarritz Marine Museum with its underwater viewing area, and the rather indulgent Chocolate Museum, which offers tasting sessions. The Historical Museum of Biarritz is situated in a former church and tells the story of the town’s transformation from tiny fishing village to high-society resort.
Hotel du Palais is obviously an address of undeniable prestige and one of the last great palaces around where guests can enjoy being treated like royalty. I felt regal throughout my stay and it has become one of my top destinations in Europe.
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