All the Right Ingredients

A sumptuous spa is the latest addition to the many pleasures at the Four Seasons Provence

By: Julie Mautner

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The Four Seasons Provence is designed
to blend into its natural setting.
The flavors of Provence have long inspired Philippe Jourdin, the Michelin-starred chef of the 114-suite Four Seasons Provence at Terre Blanche. And now they’re the focus of the resort’s new $36 million, 34,000-square-foot spa, which opened in April.

The Four Seasons Provence is located 20 minutes from Cannes and 50 minutes from the Nice Cote d’Azur Airport. It was built at a cost of $144 million and everything about it is stunning: the sweeping views, the sparkling infinity pool, the striking flowers and modern art. When it opened in 2004, it was Four Seasons’ first European resort.

As it turns out, 2007 was a landmark year for the three-year-old property. Just a month before the spa opened, the adjacent Four Seasons Golf Club had its official launch, representing yet another multi-million-dollar investment. Resort guests may use all club facilities including the golf academy and two year-round 18-hole courses.

The 657-acre Domaine de Terre Blanche (which includes the Four Seasons Resort and Spa, the Golf Club and luxe residential villas) sits on the crest of a hill overlooking terraced vineyards, medieval villages and the peaks of the southern Alps. This is a beautiful and secluded corner of Provence, and one that’s still relatively unknown to many American travelers.

It’s a bit surreal, actually, to find such a lavish resort, built to international five-star standards, deep in the Provencal countryside. Every detail was carefully planned to enhance the beauty of the site and all materials used terra cotta, stone, natural wood are typical of the region. After a day or two, you realize that the resort is actually laid out like a French village, with graceful streets of tile-roofed houses winding down from the crest of a hill.

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The new spa at the Four Seasons Provence
is considered one of the best in Europe.
Within these villas are spacious suites (646 square feet is the smallest), with separate living rooms and bedrooms and French doors leading to large private terraces. They’re loaded with conveniences, such as large, mirrored dressing areas, coffee and tea service, high-speed Internet access and laptop-sized safes. Marble bathrooms offer deep-soaking tubs, huge glass-enclosed showers, double vanities and L’Occitane amenities. Heated floors, soothing lighting and a tub-side candle lit at turndown combine to make these some of the most sensual bathrooms around.

Villa Terre Blanche, located high on the hillside (3,229 square feet) has three bedrooms, a library, indoor and outdoor dining areas and a private pool. Resort facilities include an infinity pool, tennis club, four restaurants and bars, a business lounge with free Internet and 7,850 square feet of event space including a ballroom. The popular Kids for All Seasons Program and Kid’s Club are complimentary.

The resort’s main restaurant, Faventia, is so gorgeous you’d want to dine here even if it wasn’t one of the best spots in the region. Chef Philippe Jourdin came over from Roger Verge’s famous Moulin de Mougins to open the hotel and he earned a Michelin star within the year.

Jourdin and his crew of 48 source the region’s best products and transform them into sophisticated Provencal/Mediterranean dishes. Pastry chef Nicolas Denis came down from the Four Seasons George V in Paris and his desserts are predictably divine. Light meals are also served in the lounge, where a pianist plays each evening.

And if all this weren’t quite pampering and luxurious enough, there’s the new spa, with its gorgeous temple-like lobby and irresistible menu of treatments. Beyond an enormous wall of green-tinted glass wall, the 20-meter (65-foot) indoor pool stretches out between white columns, lined with shimmering black tiles. An enormous chandelier hangs over the central staircase, crafted to look like a bouquet of glowing candles. Everywhere you look there’s something calling out to be touched.

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The spa features a 65-foot indoor pool.
The spa menu offers 30 different ESPA therapies and four “rituals” from a new health-and-beauty brand called Terrake. “Provence Signature” treatments use local ingredients such as lavender oil, verveine, jasmine, heather honey, seaweed and coarse salt from the Camargue.

There are 14 treatment rooms (including two for couples) and an outdoor “vitality” pool. Other amenities include a pristine gym, high-tech machines to assess mobility and battle cellulite, a yoga/pilates studio, saunas and steam room, a hammam and “experience” showers.

A half-hour in the relaxation room where you chill out before and after treatments is a treatment in itself, with adjustable beds, music via headphones, snacks and cool drinks.

Infusion, the spa cafe, offers four set menus, each composed of an amuse, starter, main course and dessert. With dishes such as eggplant tartare with basil, tarragon chicken and asparagus and, for dessert, a poached peach in almond milk drizzled with thyme-scented honey, one hardly feels deprived. Not only are these dishes impeccably fresh, they’re lovely to look at and fun to eat, accompanied by slender flutes of creative herbal infusions and vibrant chilled soups.

Close to the beaches of St. Tropez and the urban elegance of Nice, Terre Blanche is surrounded by some of the most beautiful villages in Provence. There’s boating, fishing and swimming on Lake St. Cassien (over four miles long; 10 minutes away), and, by arrangement, activities for groups such as gladiator games on Roman ruins, wine, olive and truffle tastings, vineyard tours and 4x4 journeys. Regular resort activities include circus shows, movies, live music, arts-and-crafts workshops and trips to local markets.