With 38,000 inhabitants squeezed onto a land mass in the South of France, just 3/4 of a square mile, Monaco is the most densely populated and smallest country in the world, other than Vatican City.
I was thrilled to be treated to a private tour of some of Monaco’s most exciting new developments. The most expensive penthouse in the world and a spectacular planned man-made island development are just a few of the many luxury new additions to Monte Carlo. Flying into Monaco via the area’s best Helicopter service, Heli Air Monaco, I soared over the luxurious new construction and planned developments in the area.
With available land at a premium, architects and designers have submitted plans for the extension of Monaco into the sea. Among the contenders is Monte Carlo Sea Land who have designed an extension of Cape Grace that will rival Dubai and create a new integrated whole for Monaco respecting the history while creating a new future. Fully informed by the Principality’s existing urban layout, one which has evolved over centuries of growth, the project hopes to inject a new sense of optimism. The public area comprised of parks, plazas, promenades and bicycle paths is an expansion of the landscape which together with new cultural, residential and commercial facilities hopes to significantly enhance Monaco’s urban experience. Cape Grace is a comprehensive proposal which successfully incorporates all the functional and technical objectives of the Principality and the model for an extensive development demonstrating the utmost sensitivity towards its history, culture and natural environments.
The principal objective of the Cape Grace man-made island project is not only to enhance its beauty but to reverse the recent effects of an increased demand on energy, taxation of the country’s natural resources and the impact of the environment. With this project, the Principality of Monaco is being offered the opportunity to construct an ideal living environment that is environmentally sustainable.
The development’s focus towards the sea is a reflection and an extension of the Monegasque culture. The plan opens the water’s edge to the public, significantly enhancing the city’s visual and physical connection to the sea.
The most exciting development is for the racing fraternity of Formula One, utilizing the new land to create a new section of track, leading from the downhill corner at Le Portier to a new section with wide road and a tight hairpin, creating an overtaking spot. The track would then rejoin the original circuit just before the tunnel, thus cutting the speed at which cars go through and reducing the dangers of the confined area.
With so much development happening in the area over the next ten years, the prime hotels have also updated and remodeled their top of the line suites. I toured the famed Hermitage Hotel and the Hotel de Paris for their exciting offerings.
HOTEL DE PARIS WINE CELLAR AND ALAIN DUCASSE RESTAURANT
Photo credit: Jim Dobson
Underneath the flower gardens of the one of the world’s most legendary hotels lies a paradise that remains decidedly hidden from the sun: the Hôtel de Paris wine cellars.
Over a hundred specialized workers (road workers, bricklayers, stonemasons, carpenters etc.) labored for more than eighteen months to build the biggest hotel wine cellar in the world. Inaugurated in 1874 by Marie Blanc, wife and founder of the Société des Bains de Mer, the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo wine cellars were originally a place where vintage wines were bottled having arrived in barrels from Bordeaux, thus guaranteeing what was not yet known as wine traceability.
During the Second World War, part of the cellar was sealed off by a wall consisting of seven layers of bottles, behind which 20,000 bottles – including the most precious - were hidden and therefore eluded seizure. The treasure of the wine cellars was protected, as was the hotel’s silverware and even the fortune of some of the hotel’s guests which is rumored to still be buried deep inside.
The recently renovated Le Louis XV-Alain Ducasse à l’Hôtel de Paris also opened to great fanfare with a specialized menu by chefs Dominique Lory and Alain Ducasse in a modern setting.
HERMITAGE HOTEL THERMES MARINS SPA
Photo credit: Jim Dobson
Overlooking the Mediterranean, the Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo epitomizes elegance at the highest level. Built in the early 1900′s, this historic luxury hotel offers a spectacular Winston Churchill penthouse suite for the ultimate experience.
With 278 rooms, including 52 junior suites, 25 suites and 9 new luxury Diamond suites, this classic of Monaco also features a spectacular new 22,000 sf spa Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo where millionaires are lining up for their cutting edge technology offering anti-aging cryotherapy extreme cold chambers. Or guests can indulge in the popular Gold & Champagne treatment including a gold-infused scrub, and a collagen body wrap.
TOUR ODEON $387 MILLION DOLLAR PENTHOUSE
Photo credit: Jim Dobson
Monaco’s newest and tallest residential skyscraper, Tour Odeon, is set to raise the bar for luxury living on an international scale. The sculpted double tower rises to a magnificent 49 stories – one of the tallest residential towers in Europe.
The stunning scheme features 70 exceptional apartments, two magnificent 12,900 square foot sky duplexes and a spectacular 37,000 square foot penthouse containing five floors with a private swimming pool and dramatic slide. All of the apartments are located between the 20th and 49th floors and feature floor-to-ceiling glass walls and elegant terraces which offer breathtaking panoramic views over Monaco city and the crystal Mediterranean beyond.
The soaring tower is the vision of architect Alexandre Giraldi, a master of Belle Epoque design and a leading figure in Monaco, where he collaborated with Lord Norman Foster on the new Yacht Club Monte Carlo.
The tower’s extraordinary yet elegant interiors are the work of the Alberto Pinto Agency, whose creative talents have transformed some of the world’s most prestigious private villas, castles, yachts, palaces.
With more dramatic plans being submitted daily, the Principality has its hands full to control the already burgeoning area while retaining its historic and cultured past. Move over Dubai, Monaco is growing at leaps and bounds much to the delight of tourists and fans worldwide.