The Quiet Side of St.-Tropez

Courtesy of La Reserve Ramatuelle

Far from rosé-soaked days and disco nights, a spa/resort/retreat to pamper both the body and soul—as only the French know how.

On a hilltop overlooking the Mediterranean, just six miles around the cove from the hedonism and rampant excess of St.-Tropez’s sandy southern shoreline, sits La Réserve Ramatuelle—the French Riviera’s latest escape. Set on nearly 25 acres of cypresses and parasol pines, this secluded spa/resort/retreat, which opened in May, was built by architect-designer Jean-Michel Wilmotte, whose most notable commissions include LVMH’s Paris headquarters and galleries in the Louvre. Here he has created a decidedly minimalist space that feels and looks nothing like our familiar ideas of French Riviera chic. Each of La Réserve’s 23 spacious rooms maintains the property’s signature streamlined aesthetic, calling attention to the views with their south-facing terraces, and creating what Wilmotte calls “a seamless link between the interior and exterior.” Offset by floor-to-ceiling windows, the rooms are done up in stone wenge flooring, Frette linens, woven Paola Lenti rugs, and sleek furnishings by the likes of Poltrona Frau. A soaking tub from Italian designer Kos is placed strategically near the window—all the better to take in the craggy Mediterranean coastline and the Bay of Pampelonne in the distance.

The real draw, however, may turn out to be the spa. Spread across 10,000 square feet, it includes 13 treatment rooms, indoor and outdoor pools, and a fitness center with state-of-the-art Technogym equipment. Many of the services—from radiance-boosting facials to exfoliating body scrubs—were developed for La Réserve using the famous La Mer product line. Should one tire of pampering, there’s a daily schedule of yoga, pilates, and aquabiking classes. For an entirely different kind of spa-going experience, La Réserve has even developed a six-day noninvasive stress-reducing, fitness-enhancing program that begins with a medical consultation.

In the kitchen, Eric Canino, who has trained under Michelin-starred chef Guy Martin, oversees the hotel’s only restaurant. Meditteranean-inflected dishes like artichoke carpaccio and chicken breast with truffles are in keeping with the health-conscious vibe. Serene and wellness-minded for sure, but alas, only minutes from the action—should you crave a dose of Champagne-soaked Riviera between spa treatments.

La Réserve is located at Chemin de la Quessine, Ramatuelle. Rooms start at $570 a night and spa treatments at $70. The six-day spa program costs $3,645. Twelve butler-staffed, four-to-six-bedroom villas built in 2004 are also available from $5,700, with a three-night minimum (33-4/94-44-94-44).