One of just fifteen international agents, I was feted by The Maybourne Group (who are “Masters of the London hotel Universe” with Claridges, The Berkeley, and The Connaught) to a day of “art, architecture and wine” at Château La Coste in the heart of Provence. The 600 acre estate lies just 15 km north of Aix-en-Provence and is the brainchild of Maybourne’s chairman, Paddy McKillen and his sister, Mara. The arrival experience was superbly surreal with a Tadao Ando-designed Centre D’Art whose focal point is one of late sculptor, Louise Bourgeos’ famous Crouching Spider installations – just six in the world – and this one uniquely in a reflecting pool of water. Rosé wine, for which the organic winery is most famous, flowed from magnums, canapés were passed and we paused in the December sunshine to reflect on our amazing surroundings.
We toured the Jean Nouvel designed winery and learned about the art of creating rosé wine which has mainly to do with length of time that the juice of the grapes is exposed to the skins. Along the way we passed other amazing works of art such as a colorful Calder sculpture and the Pavillion de Musique by Frank O. Gehry.
Various forms of art were showcased throughout the property both indoors and out. The highlight of our day was the unveiling of their new 28-room hotel, Villa La Coste. Perched high on a hill with sweeping views over the vineyard, this Aman-inspired property is surely one of the most exciting new happenings on the Provencal hospitality scene in ages. It is modern and elegant, but celebrates the traditions and nature of Provence. Although still in a “soft-opening” phase, we were able to tour one of the rooms which had a private courtyard entrance, spacious light-filled interiors, pure white bathroom with floor to ceiling windows and fabulous art from the owner’s collection discreetly featured. All of the rooms have the same layout – only difference is with or without a private pool. A 12-room spa will open next year.
The lobby had a series of drawings by Giocametti, textiles by Louise Bourgeois, a canvas by Leger and so much more.
Passing through the Andre Fu designed library and casual restaurant, the day culminated with a four-course lunch, accompanied of course by wine pairings from the estate, in their gastronomic restaurant which is a stunning glassed space with a sculpture dramatically suspended from the ceiling. There is an open kitchen overseen by 3-star Michelin star chef, Gerald Passedat from “La Petit Nice.” Mara McKillen presided as our hostess together with the new GM of Villa La Coste, the Maybourne GM’s and sales team.
If you are a contemporary art connoisseur, add Villa La Coste to your bucket list.