There’s a reason cultural greats like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway sought refuge and inspiration at the Hôtel Belles Rives, the beachfront hotel in Juan-les-Pins–the luxe enclave of Antibes. Perched above the glow of the Mediterranean Sea, the 100-year-old art-deco gem feels removed from the rest of the world yet rooted in the essence of Côte d’Azur charm, complete with an opulent piano bar, sprawling beach club and sweeping stone patio adorned in blue and white overlooking azure waters.
In 1929 Boma and Simone Estène purchased the property–then Villa Saint-Louis–from the Fitzgeralds, making the Belles Rives one of the few family-owned hotels in the region. In 2001, their granddaughter Marianne Estène-Chauvin took over and established the Belles Rives Group by purchasing nearby Hôtel Juana. Chauvin modernized the Belles Rives with some resort-driven amenities like Michelin star restaurant, La Passagere and a water ski butler that lends a certain summer camp feel to the property, but the true draw remains the 35,000 square feet of unspoiled waterfront.
DuJour checked in with Estène-Chauvin’s son, Belle Rives chief executive officer Antoine Chauvin-Estène to discuss his favorite room, most reserved offerings and what only a few lucky guests would know about the property.
What’s the most requested room at the property?
Room 50, located on the first floor of the hotel.
What makes it so special?
This room is the original bedroom of F. Scott Fitzgerald while he stayed in the Villa Saint-Louis (the name before it was named Belles Rives). Furthermore, this is the only bedroom of the hotel with a large furnished terrace. With this view, you can understand where his inspiration came from.
What is the nightly rate for this room?
From 390€ in low season to 1600€ in high season (from May to September)
What’s an interesting tidbit about the hotel that speaks to its status as an icon?
The hotel lobby is housed within a townhouse that had past lives as an 1800s tenement building and a 1960s hub for local artists. The building still features original design elements, like the stained glass windows above the entrance, and there is even a writer from the artist hub who still lives on one of the upper floors!
What’s your personal favorite room and why?
My favorite bedroom is room 95–a Panoramic Sea View Room. It is a personal point of view as the art framed in this bedroom reflects our family legacy.
Besides the new water ski butler, what special perk or amenity do you offer that no one knows about?
Even if the travel trends are changing, we still have some very loyal guests who have been coming to the Belles Rives since I was a child. For these clients, all the beddings, towels have been hand-embroidered with their initials.
What’s your favorite design element on property?
The sublime movement of the waves below the hotel, this became a recurring motif of the wrought iron and the frescoes, as well as the sheets and our letterhead.
What is another fun fact about the property?
Most people know F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote Tender is the Night at our hotel. But few may realize that Francoise Gilot, Paloma Picasso, Claude Picasso and his son Jasmin would stay at Belles Rives in the 80’s. I used to play on the beach with Jasmin–he was only a year younger than me. It was years later that I realized who they were.