You’ve probably seen photographs of Las Alamandas. Isabel Goldsmith’s private coastal paradise and its unique colour scheme of candy-pink, cyan-blue and saffron-yellow have graced the pages of many a fashion magazine since it opened to paying guests in 1990. This is a high-glamour, high-security, high-priced exclusive Mexican resort hotel, much patronised by Hollywood aristocracy (repeat guests include Francis Ford Coppola, Richard Gere and Robert de Niro) as well as the other sort. The 600-hectare estate is run along ecological lines: its forests, beaches and lagoons are effectively a private nature reserve, while the cuisine is all organic and home-grown. The accommodation consists of just 14 suites in six villas, hidden away among the manicured gardens. There is also a restaurant, “beach club’, boutique, tennis court and gym: and for those with their own planes, the hotel has a landing strip. Ms Goldsmith has her residence on a cliff top at the end of the beach, the better to survey the domain which, by all accounts, she runs with formidable energy and commitment.
Las Alamandas, San Patricio Melaque, Jalisco (00 52 322 285 5500; 285 5027; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.las-alamandas.com). Suites from US$687 (full-board) O
In late 2001, Dany Mangion and her husband Pascal bought a dilapidated house on 10 hectares of land at the north-eastern edge of the Camargue, near St-Martin-de-Crau. Seven months later, after extensive renovations, they opened Mas de la Fourbine, a charming maison d’hotes with five double rooms and a converted stable, La Bergerie, rented separately to families and groups.
The couple lived in Tahiti for more than 30 years, and the South Seas influence is evident in the Gauguinesque artworks and the fragrant names given to the rooms: Lotus, Vanilla, Mango, Lilac, Tahina and Santoline (lavender cotton). Yet this 17th-century mas is unmistakably Provencal, with pretty flower fabrics and prints by local designer Sylvie Labassa, simple linen curtains, antiques from nearby Isle sur la Sorgue and decorative saddles from the Camargue. The bedrooms are simply decorated; perhaps the most impressive are Vanilla (in soothing caramel and cream tones, with a walk-in monsoon’ shower), and Lilac, which has a neutral palette accented with magenta taffeta curtains and splashes of mauve, and a roll-top bath with views of the arid garrigue. Downstairs, there is a vast living room with beamed ceilings and a huge open fireplace (origirially a large bread oven, of which there are three on the premises).
In summer, you will want to spend most of your time in the gardens, framed by the Alpilles mountain ridge to the north and generously planted with fig, oak and acacia trees. A breakfast of coffee, pastries, yogurt, fresh fruit and fresh eggs (laid by the Fourbine hens) is served on the pretty terrace, surrounded by fragrant herbs, climbing jasmine and acanthi. After a day out, guests can choose between a late-afternoon dip in the pool or a nap in one of the hammocks slung between the shady trees.
Route de Maussane, St-Martin-de-Crau (00 33 4 90 47 01 22; fax: 90 47 30 03; www.avignon-et-provence.com). Doubles ‚107-‚160, including brunch. La Bergerie (sleeps four to six) is rentable as a whole and costs from ‚2,000 per week, not including breakfast O