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When you experience Relais & Châteaux, you experience a whole array of sensations. Each of our properties offers the opportunity to enjoy an unparalleled range of sensory experiences, where the beauty of a particular place, the warmth of the hospitality and the quality of the cuisine are in perfect harmony. Scents and tastes, landscapes and colours make every stay a rare and intense experience.
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The Relais & Châteaux Trophies: recognition of excellence

Every year, for more than 20 years now, these prestigious awards have been conferred in recognition of excellence in each category of the demanding Relais & Châteaux standards. This honour is bestowed to the most emblematic properties in cooperation with partners of the Association. In 2011, 13 “Relais & Châteaux Trophies” are awarded to people and properties which have distinguished themselves in these areas.

And the winners are…

Grands Chefs Trophy: the honour roll of the culinary arts

The Grands Chefs Trophy this year is award to eight chefs that have been promoted to Grand Chef status. The great Champagne house, Taittinger, known for its longstanding commitment to culinary enjoyment, has joined forces with the Association for this award.

In Champagne, in the magnificent property of Les Crayères, Philippe Mille, an avid reader of culinary history, cultivates a classical style “adapted to modern tastes and to a real sense of place”. The art of the elegant yet simple, is adapted to suit his two restaurants: the gourmet restaurant “Le Parc”, and “Le Jardin”, a modern brasserie set in the middle of a delightful herb garden.

In the heart of the Pauillac vineyards, on land belonging to the prestigious Château Lynch-Bages, Jean-Luc Rocha has taken over the reins from Thierry Marx, with whom he had worked, since 2002, running Château Cordeillan Bages. Savoir-faire and technical expertise, classicism and modernity are what guide this chef who delights in local ingredients and constantly rediscovers and refines the culinary traditions of Bourdeaux.

On the way through the French region of Lorraine, what better than to stop off near Lunéville, at the Château d’Adoménil, to enjoy the creative cuisine of Cyril Leclerc, who is constantly experimenting with new flavours and combinations. He adds some bold touches, yet these are kept constantly in check by a cuisine grounded in the finest seasonal produce.

The art of re-interpreting classic dishes, and creating singular pairings between his dishes and the finest wines of the French Jura region: this is what Pierre Basso-Moro at Château de Germiney does best. His is an exacting approach, and this has made of this generous and discreet man a Grand Chef with an enthusiastic following.

There is no doubt that it is Yannick Franques who has made Château St Martin one of the best-known gourmet hot spots on the Côte d‟Azur. Every day, perched above Vence, in one of his two restaurants, where its best to reserve well in advance, he replays his “love affair with the terroir”, creating a cuisine which is undiluted excitement.

Martin Herrmann has honed his talents in Germany, at Hotel Dollenberg, a exceptional property in the Black Forest. He reinterprets regional traditions and showcases local ingredients for a no less prestigious clientele, having entertained heads of state such as Barack Obama.

As England continues to gain renown as land of fine dining, it is due to chefs such as Martin Burge. At Watley Manor, a delightful country house of aristocratic charm, he shows the full extent of the savoir-faire he has learnt in the finest of restaurants such as Raymond Blanc‟s Manoir aux Quat‟ Saisons.

In this roll call of Grand Chefs for 2011, a prime position has been reserved for the American Christopher Kostow. In Napa Valley, that region of California known for an art de vivre built around its wines, the executive chef at the Meadowood is spearheading a trend based on avant-garde techniques and a passion for the most authentic local ingredients. His is a creative and inspired view of the future direction in which fine dining is clearly headed.

Welcome, Rising Chef, Art de la table, Spa: striving for perfection while appealing to all the senses

Because Relais & Châteaux has always been known for cultivating to perfection the art of generosity and warmth, the Welcome Trophy is awarded to a property particularly noted for the quality of its hospitality and services. With Moët & Chandon, it has been awarded this year to Gorah Elephant Camp in South Africa. Even in the midst of the wilderness, amongst elephants and buffalos, there is a high sense of graciousness to be found here.

The Rising Chef Trophy is awarded to a particularly promising young chef and turns the spotlight on that new generation responsible for the future of the culinary arts. In association with All Clad, the 2011 award has been presented to Daniel Galmiche, executive chef at The Vineyard at Stockcross, in the United Kingdom. Referred to as a “charming French chef” by the British press, this young Frenchman is totally at home in this small property of charm where he prepares John Dory with “a tiny oriental touch… an infusion of red and green peppers with lavender honey”; and his “venison from the Queen’s estate at Balmoral with winter root vegetables and a little Brussels sprout salad”. He loves to “add a touch of colour and freshness” to create what he calls “happy food”!

In Relais & Châteaux, the pleasure for the eye and the touch is a prelude to delights for the taste buds, and each of the Relais & Châteaux properties displays its own individual style. In association with the San Pellegrino and Acqua Panna, the Art de la Table Trophy has been awarded this year to Gästehaus Klaus Erfort, a property in Germany where the elegance of the table provides a perfect setting for the authenticity of the ingredients prepared by its Grand Chef.

Our spas are places where time stands still offering superbly sophisticated treatments, enhanced by the magic of the surroundings, which are conducive to relaxation and serenity. Expertise in this area has been recognised by the Spa Trophy, awarded, with Laurent Perrier, to Gardena Grödnerhof. This property, in the heart of the Dolomites, the pastel-hued mountains in the north of Italy, dedicates 1300m2 entirely to well-being, fitness and beauty. Quintessentially blissful.

Woman of the Year, Passion, Savoir-faire: the true expression of the soul of the innkeeper

“It is a great honour and I was truly overwhelmed to learn that I was Woman of the Year”, says Birgit Reitbauer. And the Woman of the Year Trophy is by no means a trivial award; it is sponsored by Pommery and dedicated to those exceptional women who turn hospitality into an art form. Her fine Viennese restaurant Steirereck im Stadtpark is very much a family affair: “My husband, Heinz and I work together perfectly as a team. I take care of everything that is “front of house” - welcoming our guests, looking after them while they are with us, taking care of the human relations side – and my husband, who is also the chef , takes care of everything behind the scenes”. Birgit and Heinz Reitbauer: the ideal couple, he a Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux, and she, the Woman of the Year!

Very often, the success of a property is the result of a life‟s journey, lived with passion and in harmony with the spirit of the place. And that is why we have the Passion Trophy, in association with Hennessy Cognac, to pay tribute to people with a remarkable personality. In 2011, it has been awarded in recognition of the talents of Harry Chancey and David Oxford, the owners of the Kingsbrae Arms, a romantic cottage in New Brunswick, one of the most beautiful regions in Canada.

The professionalism of teams, and the savoir-faire of those men and women who make them up, is recognised by the Savoir-faire Trophy, awarded in association with Glenmorangie whisky. This year, it recognises the talents of Marie-Noëlle and Pierre-Alain Bonnigal, owners and Maîtres de Maison at the delightfully buccolic Domaine des Hauts de Loire, with the inspiring Rémy Giraud, Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux, manning the kitchen.

Lounge, Environment, Garden, Innovation, Art de Vivre: the creation of a contemporary life style with glimpses of what the future will bring

The lounge bar is a secluded and inviting setting which plays an essential role in the charm and magic of a hotel. The Lounge Trophy, awarded in association with Grand Marnier, recognises this. In 2011, it takes us to Malaysia, to sip a cocktail somewhere between the sound of the waves and the beauty of nature. Japamala Resort, nestled between white sands and luxuriant vegetation, is the 2011 winner.

Because respect for nature is one of our main, on-going concerns, we are keen to salute those members who espouse ambitious environmental projects. That is the case with Michel and Sébastien Bras, father and son who live in the heart of the Aubrac country. They endeavour to ensure that their architecture, their cuisine and their art de vivre work in harmony with nature. In association with Orlane, it is only natural that the 2011 Environment Trophy should belong to them.

Inspired by illuminations and medieval tapestries, the magnificent gardens of the Prieuré d’Orsan, in the Berry region in the centre of France, are clearly deserving of a Garden Trophy, awarded with Rozès Port: 40 acres of orchards and kitchen gardens (providing ingredients for the restaurant, “La Table d‟Orsan”) and symbolic landscaping provide a sumptuous setting for this ancient monastery, now a charming retreat.

Uphold the best of our heritage and ensure its safe passage into the future, create brand new experiences and pleasures unknown hitherto: this is what leads us to give of our best. The Innovation Trophy, awarded in association with Nespresso, recognises this year the bold steps that Raymond Blanc has taken in the pursuit of excellence, in his creation of a unique sensory universe in his fine property in Oxford, Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons. His slogan says it all: “I am not interested in good, only sublime”.

The last of these major awards is not the least cherished, far from it, as it pays tribute to ultimate refinement. This is the Art de Vivre Trophy, and it is awarded for 2011, with Descamps, to L’Oustau de Baumanière, a magnificent property which is part of the history not only of the hotel industry and fine dining, but also of literature and the cinema. In the valley of Les Baux de Provence, this ancient 16th century mas, which has echoes of Jean Cocteau‟s “Testament of Orpheus”, offers, under the management of Jean-André and Geneviève Charial, the ideal ambiance in which to enjoy precious moments of intimacy.

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Château d’Adoménil - France, Lunéville
Grands Chefs Relais & Châteaux Restaurant of a Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux and hotel in a park
This charming château is just a stone’s throw from Lunéville, a town which Voltaire wrote “felt” just like Versailles. In the so-called “Little Versailles” of the Dukes of Lorraine, you can explore the Baccarat crystal works and Nancy’s famous Stanislas square, which is a Unesco World Heritage site. Adoménil is an 18th century building that has been beautifully restored and enhanced by subtle touches of modernity. Grand Chef Cyril Leclerc creates audacious gourmet cuisine that gives pride of place to fresh products, many of them from the surrounding Lorraine countryside. The best of both the past and present come together in the courteous service and fine cuisine at this beautiful hideaway. ...Read more

 

Bras - Sébastien et Michel - France, Laguiole
Grands Chefs Relais & Châteaux Restaurant of a Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux and hotel in the country
Sébastien Bras has been at the helm of Le Suquet since 2009, and is forging his own path on the Aubrac plateau, reminiscent of the one his father also took. His intuitive and carefully crafted cuisine provides the perfect showcase for the treasures of the vegetable world offered by the Massif Central. Imagination is given free rein in subtle pairings and harmonies which express this multifaceted living world. Here, time stands still and you take your pace from nature and the seasons. Nature is at the very heart of the Bras family’s daily endeavours to produce solely locally sourced dishes. ...Read more

 

Château Cordeillan-Bages - France, Pauillac
Grands Chefs Relais & Châteaux Restaurant of a Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux and hotel in a vineyard
This 17th century charterhouse with its works of art, located between the Gironde and the Atlantic Ocean, is the epitome of calm, awakening every sense. From its terraces, you can see the gardens with their vines and plants. In the dining room, young Jean-Luc Rocha, Best Worker of France, enjoys playing with the fragrances and textures of the South West creating original yet comforting dishes. His cuisine is highly flavoured, contemporary and well balanced – breadcrumbs with seaweed and fine slices of cuttlefish, milk-fed lamb in a citrus viennoise with creamy broad beans and garden peas, with a ‘fraîcheur‘. His idea is to give expression to the region as a whole so that its flavours and traditions are in harmony with the best wines from the Médoc and elsewhere. The bright guestrooms with their muted, timeless decor nestle amongst pine trees and lemon verbena bushes and offer utter tranquillity. This hotel, tucked away in the Gironde valley, takes full advantage of the know-how of Château Lynch-Bages and offers guests the opportunity to have a wonderful time with expert artisans to explore a whole range of different experiences. ...Read more

 

Domaine Les Crayères - France, Reims
Grands Chefs Relais & Châteaux Restaurant of a Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux and hotel in a park
Les Crayères is a mythical property in the heart of Reims, nestled discreetly in a seven hectare park full of lush vegetation. On crossing the threshold, the atmosphere is one of elegant sophistication. Perfectly appointed rooms and suites await. The warm welcome, impeccable service and Grand Chef Philippe Mille’s gourmet restaurant with its wine list featuring more than 600 champagne labels, make this the ideal place to start discovering all the treasures of this region. ...Read more

 

Hotel Dollenberg - Germany, Bad Peterstal - Griesbach
Grands Chefs Relais & Châteaux Restaurant of a Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux and hotel
In the guest book of the Hotel Dollenberg, one visitor wrote: “What a shame you can’t cuddle a hotel.” This hotel offers a hospitable atmosphere and excellent service, both of which engender such warm feelings. The relaxing treatments in the Spa, the magical dinners in romantic forest clearings and the delightful landscapes of the Black Forest all make for a wonderful stay. ...Read more

 

Château de Germigney - France, Port-Lesney
Grands Chefs Relais & Châteaux Restaurant of a Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux in a village
Renowned interior designers Roland and Véréna Schön have turned this former home of a marquis, located amongst pristine lakes, into an astonishing hotel. Cedarwood parquet floors, period furniture and silky wall hangings make each room like a work of art. Enjoy a swim in the environmentally friendly pool with 100% natural water, sink into an armchair to read a book or sample the best wines of the Jura, before sitting down to savour generous, subtle cuisine. The hallmark dishes, like Bresse chicken from the Roussel-Voisard farm in a sealed terrine with Vin Jaune, are worthy of feasts from bygone days. ...Read more

 

Domaine des Hauts de Loire - France, Onzain
Grands Chefs Relais & Châteaux Restaurant of a Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux and hotel in a park
A hunting lodge, built in 1860, on the wine trail through the castles of the Loire. This historic residence, with walls clad in pepper vine, nestles in an unspoilt setting amidst ponds teeming with birdlife and offers the ideal peaceful retreat for nature lovers. Wake up to a bright new day from the cosy comfort of one of its guestrooms. Grand Chef Rémy Giraud serves local Loire cuisine with a modern twist. On the menu: Loire shad, parsley mousse, Monsieur Marpault’s asparagus and ‘mariguette’ strawberries and hibiscus. It also offers a wide selection of excellent wines, including the finest Loire, Vouvray, Montlouis and Touraine whites. ...Read more

 

Kingsbrae Arms - Canada, St Andrews
Hotel and restaurant on the seafront
New Brunswick is one of the most beautiful parts of Canada and is famous for its constantly changing beaches, and coast inhabited by whales. On the heights of St Andrews, on the Bay of Fundy, which boasts the world’s highest tides, overlooking the little harbour, stands a private, romantic country house built in 1897. The house has been decorated in polished wood and marble and features period fireplaces and four-poster beds. Seasonal dinners include fresh fish from the Bay of Fundy with organically grown produce from the kitchen garden. Next door, discover the famous 11 hectare Kingsbrae Garden, which is home to a dizzying array of horticultural treasures. ...Read more

 

Meadowood Napa Valley - United States, St. Helena
Grands Chefs Relais & Châteaux Restaurant of a Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux and hotel in the country
In the heart of Napa Valley, one of the most prestigious wine-producing areas in the United States, Meadowood invites you to embark on a unique tasting journey. Learn about and enjoy the local wines while relaxing on the estate or embark on private tours and tastings to the legendary wineries in the area. The Restaurant at Meadowood is one of the best in the region, under the direction of Grand Chef Christopher Kostow. The sporting activities on the estate include golf, tennis, hiking, swimming and the property’s signature activity: croquet. In the cosy lodges, guest rooms or suites with decks and views of the fairways or the forested hillsides, everything comes together to create memories that will last a lifetime. ...Read more

 

Oustau de Baumanière & Spa - France, Les Baux-de-Provence
Grands Chefs Relais & Châteaux Restaurant of a Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux and hotel in the country
L’Oustau de Baumanière is renowned for its gourmet dining and its elegant and welcoming hotel – the epitome of unaffected Mediterranean art of living. This very special place, on the periphery of the community in the midst of the amazing Baux-de-Provence rocky outcrops, is a veritable icon. None of the different rooms and suites (spread over three buildings: the main building L’Oustau, La Guigou, 500 metres away and Le Manoir, 900 metres away) restored by Geneviève Charial looks anything like any of the others. Authenticity blended with contemporary style. Superb dining, in an ancient 16th century farmhouse in the heart of one of the most beautiful villages of France – the perfect place to enjoy the refined, subtle, simple cuisine of chef Sylvestre Wahid. Jelly-glazed egg, red mullet, basil and thyme flowers… The flavours explode in your mouth and take you by surprise... Light-drenched and quintessentially peaceful, the Spa Baumanière opens up to an aromatic garden. ...Read more

 

Steirereck im Stadtpark - Austria, Vienna
Grands Chefs Relais & Châteaux Restaurant of a Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux in town
The Steirereck is a jewel of Art nouveau architecture, in one of the most beautiful parts of Vienna, close to the famous statue of Johann Strauss. Drawing on produce from local farmers as well as from his own farm, Grand Chef Heinz Reitbauer creates the very finest of contemporary Austrian cuisine in a relaxed, chic setting. The dishes and their origins are explained in detail on small cards, which make a lovely memento of a unique culinary experience. Also in the building, the Meierei Milk Bar proposes 120 cheese varieties from 13 different countries as well as traditional Austrian pastries. ...Read more

 

Château Saint-Martin & Spa - France, Vence Cedex
Hotel and Restaurant in the country
Overlooking Vence, between Nice and Cannes, the Château Saint-Martin & Spa, with its fourteen hectare park, boasts exceptional panoramic views of the Mediterranean. This former residence of the Knights Templar, a place steeped in history, provides an awe-inspiring and serene setting. Discover gourmet cuisine and an exceptional wine cellar, which make for tasty moments to share. An infinity pool and the spa Saint-Martin by La Prairie are perfectly integrated into the landscape and offer absolute relaxation. Several villages in the surrounding area, which have served as a source of inspiration for talented artists, are now renowned for their museums and art galleries, like the Maeght Foundation. Also worth visiting: the Chapel of Rosary, which owes its fame to the works of Henri Matisse. ...Read more

 

The Vineyard - United Kingdom, Newbury
Hotel and restaurant in the country
The Vineyard has been described as a temple to Californian Wine. Just outside Newbury, about an hour from London, it certainly lives up to its reputation and more. The cellar holds over 30,000 wines from both the New and Old Worlds, as well as the unique and award-winning estate wines of the owner, Sir Peter Michael. It is also celebrated for its contemporary French cooking with a Mediterranean touch, using seasonal sustainable produce prepared by the executive chef. A destination restaurant deserves a great hotel and again The Vineyard does not disappoint. Traditional bedrooms, spacious contemporary suites, spa and a private art collection to die for, make it a delightful retreat for gourmands and the curious alike. ...Read more

 

Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons - United Kingdom, Oxford
Grands Chefs Relais & Châteaux Restaurant of a Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux and hotel in the country
Just outside Oxford, the Grand Chef Raymond Blanc presides over a magnificent manor house, renowned for its hotel, cuisine and stunning gardens. For Blanc, “if the work itself is transient, the memory of the flavour remains”. In his vast garden, amongst the abounding lavender, Blanc grows almost 90 varieties of vegetables and over 70 aromatic herbs, which you are bound to find on your plate, in one way or another. Blanc swears only by “bio” and organic produce. This sublime food is matched by the suites of the hotel, which all have evocative names and distinctive feels, the exoticism of Opium, the haven of tranquillity that is Blanc de Blanc, the exuberance of Vettriano. Let yourself be enchanted in the native land of Lewis Carroll and J.R.R. Tolkien. ...Read more

 

Gardena Grödnerhof - Italy, Ortisei/Val Gardena, Dolomiti
Hotel and restaurant in the mountains
The Gardena Grödnerhof is a haven of peace and quiet in the heart of the Dolomites, in the legendary Monti Pallidi – Pale Mountains – which take on magnificent hues of pink in the reflected light of the setting sun. It is a paradise for walkers and mountaineers, and its wide variety of slopes makes it the perfect destination for skiers in winter. The hotel offers guided tours of the magnificent Dolomites, to experience their fabulous natural resources and stunning views. After a day spent in the open air, what better than the gentle, elegant ambiance of the Gardena Grödnerhof. The hotel, which enjoys a reputation for its cuisine, boasts a superb spa and a beauty and fitness centre. At the end of the day, indulge yourself and relax in the Bar & Habana Lounge. ...Read more

 

Gorah Elephant Camp - South Africa, Addo National Park
Lodge and restaurant in a game reserve
Experience the adventure and romantic mystique of authentic African safaris of centuries-past at Gorah Elephant Camp, a malaria-free luxurious tented camp in the heart of Addo Elephant National Park and a Hunter Hotels property. This is an incomparable wilderness teeming with game, boasting Africa’s Big Five, the densest population of elephants on earth and the first ever private concession in a National Park in South Africa. After exhilarating game viewing, enjoy sundowners on the old-fashioned verandah overlooking the waterhole, before savouring gourmet cuisine in the elegant colonial candle-lit dining room of Gorah House. ...Read more

 

Whatley Manor - United Kingdom, Malmesbury
Grands Chefs Relais & Châteaux Restaurant of a Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux and hotel in the country
Two hours from London, the Cotswolds is an enchanting world of wide-open countryside and honey-coloured stone buildings. It is known as the Heart of England, not because of its geographical location – it is in the Southwest – but because of the emotion that it inspires amongst its visitors. It is here that you will find Whatley Manor, a beautiful private manor house hotel set in twelve acres of English country gardens that are divided into 26 areas with different themes. There is also a private cinema and contemporary spa. ...Read more

 

Prieuré d’Orsan - France, Maisonnais
Hotel and restaurant in a park
A former monastery and listed historical monument, the Prieuré d’Orsan invites you on a journey back in time. Far from the hustle and bustle of the modern world, there are no phones or televisions here. Nestled in a wooded valley in Berry, this charming hotel has spacious and inviting rooms. They all boast breathtaking views of the magnificent Orsan Gardens. Extending over three hectares, these gardens inspired by medieval illuminations feature stunning architecture and orchards, herb and vegetable gardens that produce ingredients for the culinary delights served in the restaurant. The art of hospitality is also cultivated here making it a perfect place to unwind and recharge your batteries. ...Read more