Glitz and glamour live on in St Tropez
As I arrived at the Byblos Hotel in St Tropez, another guest was being asked to leave. “It happens very rarely but, when necessary, we are decisive,” said manager Stéphane Personeni. What had this fellow done?
“Overstepped the mark.” How? Mr Personeni smiled. I wasn’t going to find out – but, given that well-dressed excess has been standard at the Byblos for 49 years, I’m guessing he’d turned mildly mysterious links between the Byblos and Brazil’s high society. And the hotel’s summer party was serenaded by Seal (for younger readers, he’s a soul singer, not a slippery item playing
on a trumpet). I was there at a quieter moment, pre-Voiles. Even so, Bill Gates had recently left. So, apparently, had the Emir of Abu Dhabi. And the chap who inspired Leonardo Di Caprio’s
film was still around.
That doesn’t sound like decline to me. In truth, St Tropez’s achievement has been to keep ahead of the game, hotspot-wise, for decades. Everyone still goes there. They’re more discreet but they’re there. And it might be said that the Byblos has been the incarnation of eminence for half a century.
Unravelling down its hillside in what looks like a cascade of Provençal village façades, the Byblos was opened in 1967 as a palace worthy of Brigitte Bardot by a Lebanese chap who admired her. In 1971, the hotel hosted Mick and Bianca’s marriage – talk about PR! – and was off. No one world-famous has not been there. For the 50th, they’re redoing the presidential suite, and have linked up with RollsRoyce, the Sisley spa people and other mega brands. Frankly, I wasn’t really listening, being too busy drinking, eating and hoping the astoundingly polite staff didn’t see through me. I was playing at this. Then again, so perhaps were they – very convincingly. It’s a grand game. Just leave the flares at home.
For Anthony’s full review of the Byblos go to telegraph. co.uk/tt-byblos