By Tiffany Ryes – International Banker
Whether it’s a glamorous weekend staycation or the absolute once-in-a-lifetime escapade on the itinerary, Europe has countless fine locations that are sure to tickle anyone’s fancy. From the classic and magnificent coastline hotels rich in history to the beckoning resorts overlooking the sparkling turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea or the Atlantic Ocean, the continent boasts of many landscapes that beckon any beach-lover lusting after a luxury holiday.
After all, what’s not to love in a luxury European beach vacation? European coasts are fringed with picture-perfect beaches. From the beautiful array of tucked-away coves to stretches of powder sand, these hideaways are treasures in themselves. Add to these the best that high-end hotels have to offer—attentive staff, fine attention to details, lavish and spacious rooms, luxurious amenities and personal butlers at one’s beck and call—and the guest experiences pure heaven on earth. And for the travel expert in search of the best of the best, these extravagant resorts bring a promise that each and every stay will be a captivatingly wonderful memory that creates an earnest, burning desire to return.
Hotel Royal-Riviera (Nice, France)
A magnificent hotel sitting on a stunning setting in the heart of Côte d’Azur, one of the most breath-taking places in the world: this is the multi-awarded Hotel Royal-Riviera in Nice, France.
The Royal-Riviera has a rich history dating back to 1904, when it was known as Panorama Palace, and rightly so. Today the luxury hotel still affords every guest grand, breathtaking views of the omnipresent Mediterranean Sea and the superbly manicured gardens. And if only walls could talk, the Royal-Riviera would have equally magnificent tales to tell of the British aristocracy, famed historical figures and celebrated personalities who have graced its halls for more than a century.
Where once the hotel held a Belle Époque style to which it had been synonymous, now guests get to enjoy a warm Neo-Hellenic theme with touches of the eclectic Art Deco style. Stepping into the hotel, guests are greeted with courtesy and served with thoughtfulness and precision until they are whisked away into one of the 72 well-appointed rooms or five opulent suites. From the meticulous furnishings and high-end amenities, guests are treated to a mille-feuille of decadence and pleasure. Meanwhile, the gourmet La Table du Royal restaurant overseen by chefs Bruno Le Bolch and Alain Parodi offers a spread of delicate Mediterranean cuisine of which guests can partake on the terraces as they look over at the horizon where the azure sky and the sparkling deep-blue Mediterranean Sea meet.
But that’s not all. Royal-Riviera is the sole hotel in St Jean Cap Ferrat that has its own private and pristine powder beach; guests can enjoy not only the luxuries and conveniences housed within this five-star hotel but also lounge along the shore, enjoy a dip in the sea, and take in the unparalleled beauty that only this part of the world offers.
Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea (Taormina, Sicily, Italy)
The crème de la crème of Sicily’s most luxurious beachside retreats, Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea is a tranquil haven that has seduced many since it was built by its aristocratic owners in 1830. Today this secluded, luxury five-star hotel enjoys its reputation as one of Italy’s most romantic beach destinations. The hotel sits on a prime location at the very heart of the seaside district of the infamous coastal town of Taormina. This grants guests a breathtaking and dreamy view of sunsets on the Bay of Mazzarò.
For the discerning traveler who has a big fondness for the beach, Villa Sant’Andrea is a paradise that has all the earthly delights a superb Belmond property has to offer: from elegant and spacious rooms to spotless, personalized service; from superb gourmet dining to blissful spa treatments. To top it all off, guests can have unlimited access to one of Sicily’s most beautiful and most exclusive beaches, only a two-minute walk from the hotel’s doorstep.
With the verdant, subtropical gardens that greet incoming guests with an atmosphere of privacy and reclusion, Villa Sant’Andrea is a place unlike any other. It offers 64 well-furnished rooms and suites with top-of-the-line amenities. Truly, the hotel is designed to make every stay an experience of a lifetime. Each spacious room affords a generous view of the sylvan courtyard or the sparkling coast of the Bay of Mazzarò through richly detailed French balconies.
Meanwhile, at the gorgeous stretch of beach, guests can enjoy not only tranquility but the best service from well-trained staff as they sit back with their cocktails in private cabanas or on lounges, getting a Sicilian tan. A heated infinity pool also provides a relaxing sanctuary as it sits right beside the azure sea. After some fun under the sun with numerous water activities, guests can indulge in authentic Sicilian cuisine with a modern twist at the Restaurant Oliviero, or simply enjoy the histories and discoveries they can find around the romantic town of Taormina.
Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum (Bodrum/Muğla Province, Turkey)
For the best world-class luxury-travel lifestyle, the highly cosmopolitan Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum is a sight to behold and an experience to cherish. Nestled in Turkey’s idyllic Bodrum Paradise Bay, this stunning six-star resort offers the most exclusive getaway imaginable.
A sparkling gem amidst the beautiful bays and inlets along the horseshoe-shaped bay, Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum is a true testament to perfection. From its elegantly minimal interiors that display understated yet unmistakable luxury to the stylish and spacious oriental-inspired rooms, guests will indeed feel like royalty. The 59 rooms, 26 suites, 37 apartments, 7 villas and 2 presidential suites all echo a contemporary Turkish vibe that is already opulent in itself.
Guests can enjoy the resort’s two splendid beaches, and choose between the larger, more private stretch of sand and the hip, vibrant beach club. Meanwhile, those seeking fine gustatory delights find fulfillment in signature Turkish delights at Juju Beach & Bistro, trattoria-style Italian cuisine at Assaggio, Mediterranean feasts at Sofra, or contemporary Japanese dishes at Kurochan. At the end of the day, guests can unwind watching live jazz music over cocktails at SuperJazz. What sets Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum apart, however, is the overall impeccable service that greets guests from the magnificent indoor-outdoor lobby and follows them throughout their stay, thanks to the personalized butler service. Definitely, this is something that a truly inspired six-star luxury resort such as Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum can offer.
Porto Zante Villas and Spa (Tragaki, Zakynthos, Greece)
If there’s one word that would best describe Porto Zante Villas and Spa, it is magical. It’s as if the Greek gods themselves have molded the bay on which it sits to make mere mortals feel what it’s like to be in a god’s very own private paradise.
A multi-awarded property, Porto Zante is a luxury boutique hotel on the island of Zakynthos. Famed for its seclusion and exclusivity, this beachfront villa resort is a quaint home away from home that is never short on going big when it comes to providing top-of-the-line services and amenities. Boasting of eight world-class and expansive villas, Porto Zante is home to stellar personalities and celebrities, as well as politicians and royalty. Each villa is expertly furnished with choice pieces from Armani/Casa and Gervasoni. And if that’s not enough, tasteful paintings by prominent Greek artists reflect the beauty of the Mediterranean life and landscapes. A walk through the villa leads to wide glass doors that open to a private, heated pool and a garden that overlooks the azure sea or a private beachfront. The exquisite garden also provides the perfect setting for indulging in spa and in-room treatments that spell nothing short of heavenly relaxation.
The Club House restaurant offers top-notch Greek and Mediterranean cuisine. Afterwards, guests can while away the hours exploring the island’s many secluded beaches, or go aboard a yacht to nearby Blue Caves and Turtle Island to snorkel among dolphins and turtles.