Hotel Byblos marks its 40th anniversary with a celebration of legendary proportions
By Stephanie Wilson
The term “luxury” is certainly over-used today. We here at Haute Living can even admit to contributing to the saturation of this word in the marketplace. But 40 years ago, luxury was not thrown around quite as haphazardly as it tends to be now. In fact, when Byblos opened their doors on May 28, 1967, and it was reported that the first luxury hotel in a peaceful fishing village in the heart of Saint Tropez had arrived, we can be rest assured that the terminology did in fact stand for five-star surroundings.
“The hotel relies on human relationship. Byblos has been living for 40-years, and when you are a client, the Byblos spirit involves feeling that you are among friends.”
Byblos was, and still is, unlike other hotels. It was designed to resemble a Provençal village, built as a fortress-like enclave. Situated on a hill, Byblos is typically described as a village within a village, with each of the hotel’s 96 rooms and suites being unique, adding to the overall Mediterranean charm of the place.
The family-run Byblos was purchased in the 60’s by Sylvain Floirat, the great grandfather of current owner Antoine Chevanne. Chevanne is the third generation of his great family to be in charge of the hotel. While the location of the hotel provides for an idyllic trip into paradise, it is the spirit of Byblos that is responsible for the magic that has kept it on the forefront of international travel for all these years, a force concocted by the Chevanne family.
Chevanne explains the spirit behind Byblos: “The hotel relies on human relationship. Byblos has been living for 40-years, and when you are a client, the Byblos spirit involves feeling that you are among friends.”
The dedication to service is one that has allowed the resort to flourish over the years. Members of the staff have been at the hotel for twenty-five years. In fact, the current concierge is the son of the man who held the same position when the resort opened its doors in 1967.
Byblos has memorably been home to many a worldwide celebrity throughout the course of its existence. Mick Jagger wed Bianca Perez at Byblos in 1971, and the famous films such as Gendarme and Année des Méduses took place at Byblos. But discretion is the name of the game at this resort, and the details of vacations of the rich and famous are never revealed.
As Chevanne says, “Byblos means exclusivity and pleasure.” The exclusivity is evident upon learning that the hotel, which is open yearly from April through October, enjoys a 99% occupancy rate during the summer months. Many of the rooms book more than a year in advance, as people clamor to be a part of the world’s elite jet set as they congregate in the exclusive locale in the South of France.
The pleasure that abounds at the resort up to now has included restaurants Spoon Byblos and Bayader alongside the extremely exclusive nightclub Les Caves du Roy, frequented by the likes of Naomi Campbell, Bruce Willis, Jack Nicholson, George Clooney, Elton John, and others. These pleasures, in addition to the service and location, have been enough to keep the hotel at capacity for more than a generation.
This summer, in honor of the hotel’s 40th Anniversary, the exclusive offers are multiplying, thanks to the addition of The Byblos Spa, which seemed to be the only thing that was missing from the resort. The spa, which is done as a partnership with Sisley Cosmetics, is set to open their doors on May 14, 2007. The Byblos Spa by Sisley Cosmetics, which will feature a Turkish bath, six treatment rooms and a VIP treatment suite with its own steam bath, exudes the Mediterranean look and feel that runs rampant throughout the resort. The spa is located in the heart of Byblos, with an open roof and indoor patio, allowing guests to feel as if they are part of nature, not completely separated in some room with strange lighting and music, as is the case with other spas worldwide.
“Sisley is developing specific treatments only available at Byblos,” Chevanne explains. This includes the “Ultimate Byblos Program,” which allows guests to be completely submerged into the indulgent world of spa care. The program, which runs for $788, is complete with an essential oil steam bath, and a face and body treatment created around the famous Sisley Global Anti-Aging Care. Sisley, a highly acclaimed brand, is also from a family-run business with a philosophy that compliments the one behind Byblos. “I met Philippe d’Ornano [son of the founder of Sisley cosmetics], and we found out we shared the same values about luxury,” says Chevanne. Thus, the Byblos Spa by Sisley Cosmetics was born.
The 40th Anniversary celebration does not stop with the introduction of the spa. The hotel will also revamp the restaurant by the swimming pool, to be launched next year. “Our anniversary is so special, and I wanted to settle so many things, I have decided to celebrate over the course of two seasons, instead of just one,” Chevanne exclaims.
The birthday extravaganza is set to climax in a soirée fit for the world’s rich and famous during the 2007 season. “I decided to invite three hundred people,” says Chevanne. “It will be a private concert by the swimming pool, with an international star fit for this international event. The guests will be the people who have been making the spirit of Saint Tropez during the past 40 years, as well as all of my best clients.”
Two of those guests are sure to be Jean Van Hamme and Philippe Francq, the two men behind Largo Winch, the world-traveling playboy star of the international adult comic strip by the same name. As an avid reader of Largo Winch, Chevanne was disappointed that in all of Winch’s travels, he had never found his way to Byblos. In honor of this anniversary, Chevanne’s disappointment is dissipating, as Largo Winch is spending a considerable number of pages of the latest issue in Saint Tropez and at Byblos.
The celebration is sure to make international headlines, as it will attract some of the biggest names in business and entertainment. Expect the Byblos brand to also get some favorable ink as well, as Chevanne works to grow the brand into a worldwide powerhouse, thanks to his development of Floirat Group, a holdings company based in Paris. With the current success of the Saint Tropez locale, the world can be rest assured that the exclusive Byblos brand will soon be spreading their magic in a neighborhood near you.