Monte Carlo for winners

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - FRONT PAGE - JOHN BORTHWICK John Borthwick was a guest of Monaco Tourism.

Cu­ri­ous to see what a lazy half-bil­lion dol­lars looks like? Stroll around the corner from Monaco’s Ho­tel Columbus Monte-Carlo to the Fontvieille yacht har­bour where a fleet of Croe­sus-wor­thy bath toys, some al­most the size of Syd­ney fer­ries, sits idle for much of the year. Un­like many of their own­ers, at least I am def­i­nitely in Monaco on this sunny af­ter­noon, with the added bonus of stay­ing at its ter­rific Ho­tel Columbus.

The ho­tel’s in­for­mal motto of “where the winners stay” is lit­er­ally true, thanks to its im­pec­ca­ble For­mula One cre­den­tials. In 2001, Scot­tish ace driver David Coulthard and his busi­ness part­ners bought the Columbus, thor­oughly re­tuned it and sent it back out on the track. His fel­low driv­ers flocked to sign in. Mod­estly billed as a 3.5-star ho­tel (in many other des­ti­na­tions it would be five-star), the un­pre­ten­tious Columbus soon be­came home dur­ing Monaco’s an­nual Grand Prix to leg­endary mo­tor rac­ing names such as Web­ber, Ec­cle­stone, Vil­leneuve, Raikko­nen, Alonso, But­ton and Vet­tel. While eas­ily able to af­ford the op­u­lent ho­tel palaces for which Monaco is fa­mous, many driv­ers pre­ferred the Columbus’s ca­ma­raderie, in­for­mal ele­gance and away-fromthe-hoopla lo­ca­tion.

Ho­tel Columbus Monte-Carlo has 181 gue­strooms and suites, most with a bal­cony or ter­race. Step off the street (through a de­cep­tively plain en­trance) and you’re met by a pal­ette of calm­ing greys, whites and muted blues. There’s a choice of four cat­e­gories of ac­com­mo­da­tion, the ma­jor­ity of which are one-bed­room “deluxe” with twin beds or a dou­ble.

The calm feel con­tin­ues within th­ese gue­strooms, abet­ted by retro pho­to­graphic art. (Art is a sig­na­ture fea­ture here, with qual­ity, con­tem­po­rary pieces on ro­ta­tion through­out the pub­lic ar­eas.) The deluxe cat­e­gory has plenty of wardrobe space, good lighting, flat-screen TV, black­out cur­tains and sound­proofed walls. The bath­room is bright and func­tional, but mem­o­rable mostly for its over-fan­gled, “all-in- one” shower tap.

Look­ing past wall-sized glass doors or from a gue­stroom bal­cony, there are views of Fontvieille har­bour (and its fab­u­lous water toys), the tow­er­ing, fa­bled Rock (home of the rul­ing Grimaldi dy­nasty), the Princess Grace Rose Gar­den and the Mediter­ranean’s blaz­ing blues. Buf­fet break­fast on the ter­race over­look­ing the me­mo­rial rose gar­den is a great heart-starter; equally so

is a tray de­liv­ered for break­fast on your bal­cony. Some time later, you may head to the ho­tel pool or gym to make amends.

Catch the ho­tel shut­tle or stroll an easy 10 min­utes into cen­tral Monaco, to visit La Con­damine Mar­ket and Port Her­cules, or head up to The Rock with its palace, mu­seum and su­perb Oceano­graphic Mu­seum. While the

Columbus name-checks Monte-Carlo, it is ac­tu­ally lo­cated in the rel­a­tively new area of Fontvieille. Monte Carlo proper is about 1km away, “up the hill”, upon which its fa­mous Casino perches like a goose that nightly lays a golden egg for Monaco’s cof­fers.

Pool deck at Ho­tel Columbus Mon­teCarlo, above; gue­stroom, far left; Oceano­graphic Mu­seum, left

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.