By Corina Tan
If you are longing for an escape to the French Riviera, a luxurious private vacation awaits. Ultra-luxury, resort and villa operator Ultima Collection with an existing portfolio in Switzerland, France and Greece, has announced an expansion to its European empire. The debut of the all-new Ultima Cannes Le Grand Jardin sets to open in Spring 2022. Exclusively accessible by boat or helicopter, the private estate is set on Sainte-Marguerite, the largest of four islands in the Lérins Archipelago, situated about half a mile off the French Mediterranean coast.
Rich in legend and history, tales of the infamous Man in the Iron Mask, rumoured to be the twin brother of Louis XIV, was once held captive in the island’s fortress. The island itself is famed for its natural unspoilt beauty and has attracted artists and photographers such as Picasso and Lee Miller, as well as the French avant-garde painter, Francis Picabia, who was mesmerised by the island’s extraordinary flora, fauna and light, and captured its rugged coastline in his painting L’île Sainte-Marguerite. The clear-blue waters off Le Grand Jardin are also home to British artist Jason deCaires Taylor’s underwater sculpture garden.
Ultima Cannes Le Grand Jardin being the only private property on Sainte-Marguerite, is a historic, walled estate that comprises of the main Governor’s House, a turreted watchtower with a roof terrace and a third guesthouse dating back to the 13th century. The three-house estate consists of 11 spacious rooms and suites, with multiple indoor and outdoor lounges and dining spaces. Spa facilities are available to all guests with an organically filtered heated swimming pool, and an open-air cinema. Ultima chefs are also on hand to offer guests tailor-made, farm-to-table dining that create a home-away-from-home experience.
The unique property is surrounded by a 3.5 acres botanical park protected by a stone fort built by Richelieu. The botanic gardens are fragrant with roses, geraniums, and irises where landscape walkways lead to an idyllic scene surrounded by cypress trees, palms, olives and local fruits. Many of the gardens are left wild but purposeful pathways are weaved through the Mediterranean foliage, inviting guests to explore the beauty of the estate for themselves.
Ultima designers and developers have worked closely with local experts to carefully restore the property to ensure its long history is preserved, whilst also offering a high level of luxury that guests have come to expect. The property aims to be as eco-friendly as possible by ensuring that everything created is done without disrupting the natural local habitat. Longer stays are encouraged to lower overall carbon footprints and arrivals by private jet via Vista Jet will be carbon off-set in partnership with a tree planting NGO. Ultima also pledges to plant a tree for each night a guest stays, and energy-saving measures are in operation throughout the property.
If you enjoy the historical aspect of this luxurious abode where King Louis the XIV once called home, be sure to make your way to this car-free island retreat featuring state-of-the-art décor and facilities, the highest levels of service whilst offering a completely exclusive, secluded, and once-in-a-lifetime experience on the Côte d’Azur.