Angelina Villa discovers the new suites at Bordeaux’s legendary Les Sources de Caudalie…
A word of warning: don’t go to Les Sources de Caudalie if you’re feeling disappointed with your life. Sure, the enchanting Bordeaux countryside you’ll find yourself in will no doubt cheer you up – but once you hear about the many accomplishments of the family that own and run this place, you may feel like a tragic underachiever (but maybe that’s just me?).
A sprawling, beautifully evocative hotel, much like a mini-hamlet, complete with Michelin-starred restaurant and stand-out Caudalie Spa, Les Sources de Caudalie is a blueprint of the ultimate family success story (for review of main hotel see here). It began life in 1990 when Daniel and Florence Cathiarde – both ex-Olympic skiers for the French national team – bought the Chåteau Smith Haut Lafitte vineyard. Over the next two years, they invested heavily in the run-down winery, built around an 18th-century manor house, and began to make notable wines. As their reputation grew as serious winemakers – it’s now a Grand Crus classified label, which is no mean feat – their daughters had their own ‘light-bulb’ moments.
The eldest, Mathilde Thomas-Cathiard came up with the concept of the Caudalie spa and beauty brand, and now owns eight Vinotherapy spas around the world, not to mention the acclaimed product range. These were devised when she realized, with the help of a scientist who was staying with the family during the grape harvest season, the potential of the potent grape seeds and skins that were otherwise thrown away during the wine-making process. Founded in 1995, it’s now a sought-after and well-respected beauty brand around the world.
Younger sister, the impossibly chic Alice Tourbier-Cathiard and husband Jerome, meanwhile, took on the task of developing a hotel on the estate alongside the vineyard. It first opened in 1999 and has seen continual developments and updates ever since, with the couple also opening a sister property in 2008, Les Etangs de Corot, on the outskirts of Paris.
If all this makes you want to lie down for a while to contemplate your own life – then there’s no better place to do it than one of the newly opened fishermen-hut style suites, the latest tranche of improvements that Alice and Jerome consistently seek to make here – and perfect for a touch of introspection.
The 12 new suites, built in a style to echo oyster-fishermen’s huts on stilts typically found in Cap Ferrat, are found in the immaculate grounds of the property overlooking a small lake. Linked by bleached, wooden walkways edged with reeds and tall grasses, the ‘Village de Pecheurs’ (Fishermen’s Village), as it is known, is an artfully aged collection of characterful buildings, complete with beams and artisan-style brick-work. It’s a wonderfully serene and peaceful place. At its heart in the middle of the lake is the romantic Le Pigeonnair. Designed like an oversized dovecote, it houses a special duplex room, and is ideal for young love birds.
Inside, the décor is Hamptons’ beach house-meets-50s French chic – with each suite designed in a different colour palette and boasting their own individual touches and pieces of furniture. They are fresh, modern and light-filled. In my suite, this translates as whitewashed wood-panelled walls mixed with an ochre statement wallpaper printed with a coral pattern, industrial oversized angle-poise lamps and forest-green Charles Eames chairs. An eclectic art wall features butterflies encased in glass, photographs of waterside settings and prints of seaside scenes. My double-roomed bathroom is expansive – understated yet glamourous with grey slate, shimmering copper tiles and an iridescent wallpaper, decked out, of course, with an abundance of Caudalie products to try. Best of all, though, are the sun-dappled terraces, that each suite has. They overlook the vineyards beyond, or the shimmering lake, and have deep wicker armchairs to savour the view.
Marking the entrance to the ‘village’ is a new 15 metre-long pool and fitness room housed in an impressive timber-framed glasshouse that can be opened up in warmer months. Reflecting the natural setting, here you’ll find a multitude of flower-pots dotted around and a vibrant, abstract photo installation at the bottom of the pool, designed by artist Mathilde de l’Ecotais.
Finally, Rouge is another new addition. It’s a stand-alone tapas-style eaterie and wine bar, serving sharing and tasting plates, and would not be out of place in London’s Marylebone or Madrid’s La Latina areas. You can also stock up on goodies to take home in the deli, where a wide selection of Bordeaux wines, olives, pastas and speciality foods are sold. It’s a laid-back, ‘of the moment’ space, ideal for whiling away the hours with a glass of vino and a plate of charcuturie and just the place for contemplating the life you’ll reinvigorate once you get home.
Stays at Les Sources de Caudalie new suites from €650 per room per night on a B&B basis.
Les Sources de Caudalie, Chemin de Smith Haut Lafitte, 33650, Bordeaux-Martillac, France. Tel: + 33 (0)5 57 83 83 83; sources-caudalie.com