Sunday, 11 October 2015

La Coquillade Village, Picture Perfect Provence

It has been over 6 years since I last posted something on this blog... I might be a little rusty, but I hope that my experience of La Coquillade Village (early July 2015) can be of help. As usual, please feel free to ask me some questions in the Comments section and I will do my best to reply.

After a smooth EasyJet flight from Manchester to Marseille (make sure to book seats with priority boarding), we picked up our rental car at Europcar and managed to quickly set off for what would be four days of Provencal bliss.

Driving down the D900, surrounded by stunning vineyards and lavender fields, it is easy to miss the signs for La Coquillade. The tiny country roads taking you to what formerly was a small hamlet, might initially feel like being in the middle of nowhere but the grand gated entrance immediately reassures guests that they have indeed arrived 'somewhere'. Somewhere out of the ordinary that is. The pine tree lined drive to La Coquillade Village takes you to the reception where with a big welcoming smile - typical of 'Les Gens du Sud' - Benoit our 'voiturier' guided us towards the reception desk while taking care of our luggage and our car. After a swift, friendly and multilingual check-in, Benoit whizzed us around the jaw-droppingly fabulous property in one of La Coquillade's dedicated golf buggies, leading us to the very well appointed and spacious room that would be ours for the next few days. The beautifully designed and spacious Chambre Prestige would to any other standard be considered a suite with its dedicated seating area featuring two comfortable chaise sofas, a large smart TV, a Nespresso machine and a writing desk; while the stunning separate free-standing bath, wet-room type shower and double vanity unit were all cleverly laid out next to the ultimately comfortable bed. Not only are the rooms very stylish, but they actually 'work' really well for guests with form and function being in perfect harmony. The fact that every room also has its own dedicated outdoor seating area is a massive bonus since it allows guests to enjoy Provencal bliss, with for example a glass of wine and some cherries you freshly picked strolling around the domain.

Free standing bath looks stunning

Very comfy bed

Separate lounge area with Smart TV and Nespresso 
Double vanity unit 

Wet room with bath robes

Outdoor seating area

Enjoying some freshly picked cherries
La Coquillade Village is the brainchild of Swiss entrepreneur and cycling enthusiast Andy Rihs (and his wife), who have created a unique Provencal retreat where guests can enjoy the best that La Provence has to offer in total tranquillity and luxury. The BMC Cycling Centre at La Coquillade hints at the owner's passion for cycling and his BMC Cycling Team is well-known to Tour de France aficionados, bringing together a well-established team of world class professional cyclists. The Cycling Centre offers bicycle hire, a top-class bike shop, a workshop and test centre, while sports lovers can tackle totally bespoke bike circuits accompanied by a guide or pre-programmed GPS.
The hotel comprises of 22 rooms and 41 suites. The rooms are categorised as Chambre de Charme (30 - 35 square metres) and Chambre Prestige (40 - 55 square metres), whereas a multitude of different types of suites will cater to the most discerning of residents, with added space, luxuries, Jacuzzi baths and even a private pool. The original hamlet that forms the basis of the original La Coquillade, gives the hotel a very intimate feel while offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape with its marvellous hills, vineyards and lavender fields. It was converted to La Coquillade back in 2008 and initially only offered 28 rooms and suites. Last Winter however (2014-2015) a new wing was added offering more accommodation options with the new world class spa having only very recently opened its doors, at the end of June 2015.
New wing at La Coquillade

Outdoors relaxing area near the new Spa

Even though the massive expansion, guests can - literally - rest assured that La Coquillade Village never feels crowded and manages to retain its tranquil and relaxing nature thanks to the extra swimming pool, the numerous lounge areas and several dining options.
One of the numerous lounge areas

Yet another outdoor lounge area

Even though extra rooms, La Coquillade doesn't feel crowded
Admittedly, we do prefer the feel of the original hamlet when compared to the new section, which looks stunning but has less character.
Le Jardin dans les Vignes offers an extraordinary setting from where to enjoy the sound of crickets and a beautiful sunset while savouring the 'Retour du Marché' menu accompanied by the omnipresent and very palatable Aureto wines. On our last evening we opted for the ‘Aureto Soirée Rose’, where guests were encouraged to also reflect the pink theme by dressing accordingly, if possible. Live piano music set the perfect background for what would be a very enjoyable and memorable evening combining succulent cuisine - with foods matching the pink theme - and rosé wines - of course - in a picture perfect surrounding.
Le Jardin dans les Vignes

This view makes enjoying a meal rather easy

On cooler (or wetter) days, dinner and breakfasts are taking place in the aptly named Le Bistrot, while on mild and warm days breakfast is had in the bistro's outdoor area.
Le Bistrot's outdoor area
As an interesting side note, winery Aureto is also owned by Andy Rihs and it actually precedes La Coquillade Village which sits within the Aureto domain. It was on a visit to the wine estate and walking through the hamlet that the inspiration for La Coquillade Village emerged... it was just too much of an exceptional setting not to share with others, and so the 'mental seed' for La Coquillade Village was planted. True foodies should make sure to give the reputed Le Gourmet restaurant a try where the Michelin starred Chef Christophe Renaud creates some truly gustatory highlights to your Provencal dream holiday. Il Ristorante is the more casual but nevertheless stylish restaurant where guests can enjoy Italian inspired lunch - or dinner - options such as salads, ciabattas, pastas and pizzas while overlooking the swimming pools at La Coquillade. Be warned however that portion sizes at Il Ristorante are very generous - to say the least - and that you might need a siesta at the fabulous pool side afterwards... life can be hard at times. Luckily, the pool bar boasts some invigorating organic fruit 'virgin' cocktails, iced coffees and the intriguing Calimucho to quickly restore your energy levels, would you wish to do so.

Il Ristorante setting
Poolside bar
One healthy  poolside drink and one Calimucho
The recently opened 1,500 square metre Spa looks absolutely gorgeous and the setting is of a more contemporary and minimal styling, with lovely outdoor relaxation areas complementing the slick indoor infrastructure which boasts an indoor pool, hammam, sauna, steam bath, multi-sensory shower, hydrotherapy room, many treatment rooms and leisure areas. For guests fond of their privacy, the Spa offers a 'Private Spa within the Spa' including 2 massage tables, jacuzzi, sauna, hammam and garden. The treatment programme at La Coquillade focuses on health and nature, but also includes more traditional beauty treatments. It is perfect for relieving tired or sore muscles after completing a bike circuit in the wonderful Luberon region.

The 'hot' new Spa
Guests should certainly also ask concierge Antoine for some advice since this gentleman really knows how to avoid the tourist traps, while offering some very worthwhile and delightful alternatives. Next door to the concierge's desk, the La Coquillade Shop offers the perfect opportunity to quickly pick up some gifts for family and friends before returning home.

Should I get the right one or the left one? 
What makes La Coquillade truly exceptional however is not just the infrastructure, the design and its wonderful surroundings, but also the friendliness and professionalism displayed by all members of staff whose smiles complement 'le village' to ultimately contribute to an unforgettable Provencal escape.

There you go... that was my first travel blog post in over 6 years. I hope you found some useful information in here and please feel free to ask or comment!

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