My Trip to Provence: Four Seasons Review
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Last week I spent 4 days at the Four Seasons Provence thanks to TPG reader Andrew who had won the trip in a contest but wasn't able to go himself. I've been to Paris a number of times, but never the south of France, so I was excited to check out the resort and some of the surrounding towns in Provence and the Cote d'Azur and then spend my last night in Monaco at Le Meridien Beach Plaza in Monte Carlo.
Despite having some issues with my outbound flight, I ended up getting to Nice just a couple hours after originally planned and I got my Hertz rental car - which was a moderate pain because the Hertz location in Terminal 1 was closed so you had to take a 15-minute bus to the other side of the airport, followed by a 10-minute walk to the rental car center, but I did get upgraded to a nice automatic Peugeot hybrid that served me well throughout my stay.
Getting to the Resort
The resort is located 35 miles west of the Nice airport, mostly a straight shot on route A8 and took about 45 minutes with no traffic. The hotel had quoted me 300 euros ($390) each way for transfer, so I clearly opted to burn 2400 Hertz points for 4 rental days, saving me about 500 euros ($645). A8 is a toll road, but luckily the machines accept credit cards. For some reason, my Chase British Airways and Sapphire Preferred cards didn't work, so I ended up using my Amex Platinum card, which worked fine. It was much easier and quicker than trying to figure out how much each toll was and throw the correct amount of coins in the bucket - plus I earned points and avoided foreign transaction fees.
The Four Seasons Provence property, which is independently managed and is a part of the Leading Hotels of the World program, is known as the Terre Blanche Hotel and Spa Gold Resort. From reports I've read, the owners of the property felt like it would make more sense to manage the property independently and market it as an upscale sports/spa resort. The resort was pretty empty during my stay, though admittedly September isn't the peak season for Provence so I'm not sure if the low occupancy was a result of the impending management change and lack of marketing in the interim, but it worked out well for me because I felt like I owned the place while I was there.
I was in a base room, a "Deluxe Suite King 646Sqf /60Sqm, Lounge, Terrace, Mountain View Extra Privacy". The main building is just the check-in area with restaurants. The rooms are all in villas around the sprawling property and they drive you to your room in a golf cart. My room, 1902, was a short walk from the pool and hotel, so I ended up walking everywhere, though they did offer to always pick me up if I ever wanted.
The room was spacious, with a nice sitting area, bedroom, changing area and nice-sized bathroom with soaking tub. My first impression was that it didn't really scream Four Seasons to me; the furniture seemed a little lower-end, though the bed was comfortable and all of the usual Four Seasons trappings were available, including plush robes and fragrant Bulgari toiletries.
I ordered the room service "healthy" breakfast one day and got a kick that it included about a pound of carbs in the bread basket. It still baffles me how the French can eat so many rich things like foie gras and go to town on bread and stay so thin.
Much to my dad's chagrin, I'm not much of a golfer (it's on my to-do list, I swear), so I spent most of my free time on my first day enjoying the stunning 73-degree weather by the infinity pool. I was one of only a handful of people, so I don't think I was ever even in the huge pool with anyone else. It was really relaxing to hang by the infinity edge and hear the water drop down and just take in the beauty of the resort. The major downsides of the pool were 1) no food and beverage service - there was a cafe, but it was closed due to the off-season - and 2) spotty wi-fi coverage. Otherwise, it was the perfect place to relax.
While I didn't take advantage of the namesake golf course, I did take it upon myself to check out the spa, which is a short walk up a hill from the main hotel, near the entrance of the resort. I scheduled a 60-minute deep tissue and I somehow mixed up the time, but I showed up an hour early. Luckily, they had a really, really, really comfortable relaxation room that I had to myself so I ended up taking an afternoon nap right before my massage, which was above average, though not one of the best I've ever had. Prices were (unsurprisingly) high for a luxury resort - I believe my 60 minute massage was about 200 Euros (~$260) when all was said and done.
For the first two days of my trip I just relaxed and hung out on the resort and caught up on some much-needed sleep. The meals were all very good and the menu included a lot of great seafood and Italian dishes, including a lot of French classics like foie gras and rabbit terrines that were both pretty spectacular.
I got in a ton of suggestions for what to do in Provence from readers, but given the eastern location of the Four Seasons, I ended up just doing one day trip to Grasse and Cap Antibes and then Eze and Monaco on my last night. I wasn't stressed about seeing all of the other great suggestions, because I know I'll be back again in the near future!
All in all, I had a great stay at the Four Seasons Terre Blanche Resort, but next time I go to Provence I want to stay in a guest house or B&B to get more of the local culture and vibe. The resort is pretty remote, which means you can't walk anywhere or get a local "feel" without having to drive 15-20 minutes to some of the small surrounding towns. I'd recommend it for a relaxing long weekend destination to recharge your batteries, but I wouldn't recommend it for first-time visitors who want to experience authentic Provence without having to drive a lot every day.