As you wind your way up through the scenic landscape towards the gates of the Chateau Saint Martin Hotel and Spa you are transported into the splendour of a world gone by. A one-time 12th century Templar Knight Commandery, the hotel has been sympathetically restored to an elegant luxurious five-star property.
Everything about this hotel says French Riviera - the chateau, the sophistication, the period furniture, the magnificent wines (there are over 12,000 bottles in the cellar), the 300 century old olive trees, and its location - nestled between the mountains and sea.
If I had to use one word to describe this property it would be romantic - accordingly there is a chapel which can be used for weddings and blessings.
Chateau Saint-Martin Hotel & Spa is the perfect blend of discreet A list contemporary luxury, and old charm ambience. The fabulous exhibition by Aron Slims in the hotel's corridors is a reminder that the French Riviera has always been the playground of the rich and famous and his vibrant photography illustrates this beautifully.
The junior suites are decorated with period furniture in Louis XV and Louis XV1 style and dressed with exquisite fabrics. The stunning bathrooms are enormous - perfect for a DIY pamper. Sample the Bamford in-room products and wrap yourself in the the luxurious robes, this is 'me time' at its best.
For more expert pampering be sure to book a treatment at the Spa Saint-Martin Sisley. The Spa has an instantly calming effect from the moment you enter. There is an extensive choice of treatments by Sisley, the prestigious French brand, which is renowned for using the best plant extracts of natural origin. It's Phtyo-Aromatic treatments offer prolonged immersion in the sensory world through a range of face and body treatments.
I enjoyed the Sisley Relaxing Zen Harmony Massage. You can select the ambience, via a choice of lighting, and the bed is gently heated allowing warmth to flow through your body. Aromatic massage is used, with variations of intensity, techniques and scents to relax and rejuvenate.
In 2012 the spa also introduced a selection of products by luxury British brand Bamford, which offers a holistic approach to beauty with 100% natural products. The philosophy of Bamford is that wellbeing on the outside is linked to wellbeing on the inside and the treatments are designed to work on the physical, as well as the energetic layers of the body.
The spa offers a range of mother and baby treatments, as well as a teen spa treatment and a princess polish for the little ones.
If you want to get even closer to nature you can enjoy a treatment in the Spa Gazebo. Behind crisp white muslin this is a secluded oasis! The hotel also offers private fitness coaches, yoga and osteopathy.
After your treatment you can relax in the beauty lounge, a wonderful space to allow your mind to rest, or try the experience shower, where you will enjoy a shower of warm water with essences of maracuja, a revigorating torrent with lateral jets, and a breeze of tiny blue droplets fragrant with mint.
The restaurant and terrace are the centrepiece of the property. Whether you're dining on the terrace or in the more formal dining area you are afforded breathtaking 180 degree views which allow you to take in the Provencal villages all the way to the glistening Mediterrean sea.
The cuisine is exquisitely presented and utterly delicious in equal measures and the restaurant is orchestrated by head chef, Jean-Luc Lefrancois who brings over 30 years of culinary experience. He uses local produce in his food and describes his favourite food as 'light, simple, precise and creative'. The dishes are both pleasing to the eye and exquisite to taste, and the sommelier will recommend a subtle wine match to accompany your food.
The bar Le Rossini features tapestries from the 18th century, which creates an authentic and cosy atmosphere. Here you can sample an array of splendid cocktails, or simply enjoy a herbal tea.
For informal dining al-freso lunch is served at the L'Oliveraie, which is set under the shade of olive trees serving pizzas from the fire-wood oven and barbecued dishes.
The service at the chateau is impeccable; discreet, yet attentive and with a friendly warmth.
It's not only easy to forget about the stresses of the outside world, it's easy to forget that there is an outside world inside the tranquility of the Chateau Saint Martin & Spa.
Rates start from €350 per night on a b&b basis
Words: Amanda Camilleri