WHAT’S IT LIKE? The Monte Carlo Bay hotel, a pristine new-build, occupies ten acres of land with gardens, pools and palms on the Larvotto peninsula on the shores of the Mediterranean. Open since October 2005, the four-star property is one of four hotels in the city-state funded by the Societe des Bains de Mers (SBM), a company controlled by Monaco, which also has five casinos and 32 restaurants.
The exterior is grand, with sets of shallow steps curving up to the entrance and around the driveway. Walking straight through the high-ceilinged lobby will bring you to the L’Orange Vert eaterie, and then outside to a chic terrace leading on to pathways weaving past lagoons, Tuscan-style villas and bird of paradise flowers. At the far end of the site is the Sporting Monte Carlo, a huge conference venue with a retractable roof that plays host to many prestigious events, including the 2009 pokerstars.com European Poker Tour.
WHERE IS IT? On Avenue Princesse Grace on the Larvotto peninsula in Monte Carlo, next door to the Le Méridien hotel. It takes 30 minutes in a taxi from Nice airport, 33km away, and costs €100. Alternatively, you can get a helicopter with Heli Air Monaco from the airport to the hotel as it has its own helipad. Flights run from 0845 to 1945 twice an hour, and take seven minutes. A one-way flight costs €120 per person.
ROOM FACILITIES When guests check in, they are given a Carte d’Or room key that also gives them access to the sandy-bottom lagoon, the pools, the fitness centre and the on-site casino. While the hotel is a popular choice for leisure travellers, the rooms offer everything a business traveller could need. Standard amenities include 24-hour room service (there is a €3 charge for this), air conditioning, a minibar, wireless phones, a safe, a Sony flatscreen TV with pay-per-view channels and a keyboard, a DVD player, and wired/wifi internet access (€10 for one hour or €20 for 24 hours).
My Exclusive room on floor nine was spacious and featured warm contemporary décor – there was a grey tiled floor with a soft rug, a pine wood workdesk/dining table and sliding doors to the bathroom, burnt orange soft furnishings, abstract prints on the walls, and floor-to-ceiling glass doors opening on to the terrace. This was fitted with a comfy sofa, table and chairs and looked down on to the swimming pools below and the sea beyond.
Along with large wardrobes and a king-size bed with good-quality pillows and duvet, champagne glasses, an umbrella, robes, slippers and tea-making facilities were also provided. The polished bathroom had a tub and a walk-in rainshower, a separate cubicle for the toilet, a hairdryer, scales, bathing products, and a few sticks of green bamboo in a glass.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS There are four restaurants, including the Blue Bay, which serves Mediterranean and world cuisine from 12pm-2pm and 7pm-10pm. (An express lunch with a starter and a main course is €30.) L’Orange Vert on the ground floor is a relaxed venue with an outdoor terrace. It serves light meals throughout the day, such as wraps, pasta and salads, although it does feel a little overpriced as the food is fairly average. Las Brisas is open from May to September and sits on the southern terrace overlooking the lagoon, while Il Baretto is open from 8am to midnight for snacks and drinks from €8. Blue Gin bar is the place to come for expensive cocktails (about €18 for a mojito) – ideally on the broad, sea-facing wood-decked terrace outside the lounge itself.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES In addition to a business centre with PCs, fax, photocopier and printers on the first floor, the hotel has an excellent array of meeting and conference facilities – there are ten venues in total, many of which can be divided into smaller ones, with spacious corridors for breakouts. I had two days of seminars here and was impressed with how well it was organised – there were plenty of staff on hand to help, tea, juice, coffee, water and biscuits provided in between sessions, and a very good three-course lunch provided in an adjacent room with beautiful sea views.
The 1,563 sqm Sporting Monte Carlo (sportingmontecarlo.com) is an impressive additional venue accessed either up a driveway to the right of the hotel, or through the hotel itself, up the winding paths through the gardens and past the stunning dandelion puff-style fountain at the far end, and is also part of the SBM offering. It holds two large meeting rooms, including the Salle des Etoiles, with its roof that opens to the sky, as well as two restaurants, a bar, a summer casino, and Jimmy’z nightclub, open from 11pm Wednesday to Sunday.
LEISURE FACILITIES If you’re here on business, the chances are you will barely have time for a swim or workout in the fitness centre (open 7am-8pm). However, for those with a little more time to relax, there is no shortage of things to enjoy. The sweeping outdoor sandy-bottom lagoon has waterfalls, spa baths and plenty of places to sunbathe or read a book. There is also an indoor pool with a hammam connected to the outdoor lagoon. The 900 sqm luxurious Cinq Mondes spa (open 10am-7pm) has 12 treatment rooms with “rituals” costing from €20 to €1,100. A 50-minute Balinese massage costs €110. The on-site Bay casino (open 2pm-2am) has 145 slot machines. Guests can also make use of the Beach Club, the Monte Carlo Country Club and the Golf Club. (See the hotel’s website for more details.)
VERDICT Although this hotel is categorised as four-star, in many ways it is comparable with a five-star. The conference and leisure facilities are top-notch, and the rooms provide everything a corporate guest would be looking for.
HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 334 rooms, including 22 suites. Superior City View rooms are 35 sqm (plus an 8.5 sqm terrace) on floors two to ten. Exclusive rooms, also on floors two to ten, are the same size but have views of the sea. Prestige rooms on floors two to six are 42 sqm (plus an 8.5 sqm terrace). The 164 sqm Top Roof suite is on level 11 and looks over the sea and mountains, while the four Exclusive suites on floors seven to ten are 60-95 sqm and have either one or two terraces and sweeping sea views. Duplex suites also occupy levels seven to ten and range from 60 sqm to 94 sqm with excellent views.
ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The covered terrace and the sea views, the comfy bed and the sleek modern bathroom.
PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in September started from €270 for a Superior City View room including breakfast. (This is a special rate valid until April.)
CONTACT Monte Carlo Bay hotel and resort, 40 Avenue Princesse Grace; tel +377 9806 0200; montecarlobay.com