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The 2012 Relais & Châteaux Trophies

Every year, 12 Trophies recognise the exception men, women and properties who exemplify the requisite Relais & Châteaux standards of excellence

A sense of hospitality: a few well-chosen words, a sincere smile, a bouquet of fresh flowers, a warm and personalised welcome and a little taste of the region offered as an appetizer to greet you, these small yet essential gestures of generosity are recognised by the Welcome Trophy, awarded in partnership with Dom Pérignon. Restaurant Richard et Christopher Coutanceau in La Rochelle (France) receives this award in their sea-side restaurant. The views of the Bay of Biscay serve as the starter, the service does the rest and the cuisine adds the essential finishing touches.

Gourmet cuisine exacts its demands, and deserves its rewards. The Grands Chefs Trophies, presented in association with Taittinger, pays tribute to the elite of the Relais & Châteaux chefs of whom there are 5 who were promoted this year to this prestigious rank: Christophe Bacquié, who has been at Hôtel du Castellet (France) for the last two years and who includes in his retro-modern cuisine the finest ingredients; Antonio Guida of Il Pellicano (Italy) whose contemporary, Mediterranean-inspired inventions break with convention; Peter Tempelhoff of The Greenhouse at The Cellars-Hohenort Hotel (South Africa) and his ‘deconstructed’ dishes, prepared with style and respect; Gunnar Thompson of Château de Sureau, a passionate promoter of ‘made in California’ local cuisine, and, also in the USA, at Blackberry Farm in Tennessee, Joseph Lenn for the dishes he produces from ingredients grown on site, either on the property’s farm or gardens.

Chefs with promise, the ‘rising stars’ of Relais & Châteaux, have an award of their own. The Rising Chef Trophy, supported by the cookware company All-Clad, is awarded this year to Sébastien Sevellec of La Villa in Calvi (France), for the hymns to Corsica that this son of a fisherman has created, having worked at this property for 12 years now, and to Fabrice Vulin at the Château de la Chèvre d’Or (France), who produces Mediterranean dishes of rare sophistication, as pleasing to the eye as to the palate.

Beauty enhances all that is good, whether on the dish or beyond. A carefully chosen linen table cloth, fine silverware, crystal glasses; an attractively-laid table whets the appetite. San Pellegrino and the Art de la Table Trophy pay tribute to this quest for good taste. The Atrio Restaurante & Hotel in Cáceres (Spain), which belongs to Grand Chef Toño Perez, receives this recognition. It is housed in extraordinary buildings which skilfully combine the Gothic with Renaissance and a touch of Colonial style, and boasts a sleek, minimalist dining room with furniture by Mansilla + Tuñón, other masters of modern design.

The Woman of the Year Trophy, given in partnership with Pommery, celebrates one of the many exceptional Relais & Châteaux women. Grand Chef Carme Ruscalleda, owner of Restaurant Sant Pau (Spain) and the creator of an intensely personal, authentic cuisine inspired by surprising references from Catalonia and Japan is recognized this year.

To uphold the best of our heritage and ensure its safe passage into the future requires a skilful blending of tradition with innovation. The Innovation Trophy, awarded in association with Nespresso, recognises this year the Chiu Family of the Villa 32 in Taiwan.

Commitment, too, deserves recognition for those who carry aloft the values of Relais & Châteaux and who fully engage themselves with their property and their guests, and is recognized by the Passion Trophy. This year, Cédric Morel, Owner and Maître de Maison of Château de Feuilles (Seychelles) is presented with this honour awarded in partnership with Hennessy.

It is an art to practise this passion on a daily basis and all with apparent simplicity and ease. This is case in the Restaurant Schwarzwaldstube (Germany), where, in the middle of the Black Forest, Grand Chef Harald Wohlfahrt and his team deliver exceptional cuisine. This property receives the 2012 Savoir-Faire Trophy, awarded in association with Glenmorangie whiskies, in recognition of its staff whose expert discretion is only equalled by their creativity and professionalism.

And in addition to the men and women of Relais & Châteaux, and the services they provide, many features of the properties are also worthy of commendation. With The Spa Trophy, awarded in partnership with Laurent-Perrier, the art of well-being is recognized. It goes this year to La Côte Saint-Jacques & Spa (France), belonging to Grand Chef Jean-Michel Lorain, for its 800 m² indoor heated pool, panoramic jacuzzi, hammams, sauna, fitness room and exceptional treatments, all completely at one with its remarkable setting on the River Yvonne in Burgundy.

The lounge bar is the place to relax and meet up with others in a refined and comfortable setting. This year, the Lounge Trophy is awarded, together with Grand Marnier, to the Oriental Lounge of the Grand Hôtel du Lac (Switzerland), majestically refurbished by famous interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon.

Environmental protection is a driving force behind Relais & Châteaux. It is only natural that the Association has devoted an award to this, the Environment Trophy, supported by the skincare brand Orlane, and awarded to Il Melograno (Italy) where the Guerra family, working in harmony with nature, seek to protect the beauties of the Adriatic.

Finally, the Garden Trophy, awarded in partnership with Rozès port, recognises the most beautiful of the many Relais & Châteaux gardens. The Fearrington House Country Inn & Restaurant (USA) offers exquisite green spaces where you can relax, stroll, seek inspiration; 100% in the open air, near meadows where cattle graze and next to 60 beds of flowers and aromatic herbs and lawns.

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The 2012 Relais & Châteaux Trophies

Blackberry Farm - United States, Walland
Grands Chefs Relais & Châteaux Restaurant of a Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux and hotel in the mountains
A visit to this traditional farm, deep in Tennessee, is a chance to return to nature and rediscover life’s simple pleasures. Some of the 1,700 hectares of land are set aside for farming, which ensures a steady flow of deliciously fresh produce all year round. Cheese, vegetables, herbs, honey and cider are all produced right here. Grand Chef Joseph Lenn has created a menu that respects the integrity of local products and flavours. The result is simple and delicious recipes accompanied by excellent wines from a collection of 180,000 bottles. Get involved in life at the farm, whether through gardening, cheesemaking or one of the unique cooking classes in the farm and garden and the adventure weekends, which take place here. Or, if you prefer, go fly-fishing, explore the region on a Harley-Davidson or by horse-drawn carriage, and sample an array of beauty treatments on offer. ...Read more


The Cellars-Hohenort Hotel - South Africa, Cape Town
Grands Chefs Relais & Châteaux Restaurant of a Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux and hotel in town
Located in Cape Town’s historical Constantia Valley, on the breathtaking slopes of Table Mountain, all the rooms and suites of The Cellars-Hohenort boast panoramic views of the impressive mountain and the beautiful grounds. Set in 9.5 acres of world renowned gardens, this historic and beautiful country escape in the city offers guests far more than just incomparable scenery. A 15 minute drive will take you to the centre of Cape Town, South Africa’s oldest city, famous for its natural beauty, cuisine and wine. Back at the hotel there are two award-winning dining experiences, including The Greenhouse, where cuisine focuses on regional flavours with modern interpretations. All of this is the result of owner Liz McGrath’s more than 20 years of hard work, love and endless inspiration. ...Read more


Château de La Chèvre d’Or - France, Eze-Village
Hotel and restaurant in a village
This château, with its breath-taking vantage point over the Mediterranean, has plenty of relaxing activities in store: swimming in the pool, fragrant gardens, Indian massages and tennis. The charming rooms are all different. The great classics of French gastronomy as well as Mediterranean specialties can be savoured in one of the hotel’s four restaurants, where the pleasure derived from the fine cuisine is enhanced by the stunning views. After the meal, you can stroll through the cobblestone streets of the medieval cliff-side village overlooking the grandiose panorama of the sea. ...Read more


Restaurant Christopher Coutanceau - France, La Rochelle
Grands Chefs Relais & Châteaux Restaurant of a Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux on the seafront
Concurrence beach stretches out at the foot of this veritable beacon of gastronomy in the Charente. Nothing is left to chance here. Just imagine a world where your pleasure comes first. The clocks have stopped on this Relais & Châteaux road to happiness letting you share a memorable experience. Today Christopher, the son, is in sole command. He has been strongly influenced by his father's legendary culinary rigour on which he puts his own personal stamp. However, the “hallmark signature” of the restaurant has not changed: superb seafood, sourced that very morning at the harbour market, creativity and passion for fine dining. Dare to ask for the secret behind that Breton lobster stew in shellfish butter, or for tips on how to recreate in your own home a crispy line-caught sea bass in a shellfish foam. Added to that there is a cellar with more than one thousand different labels and 20.000 bottles. ...Read more


The Fearrington House Inn, Restaurant & Spa - United States, Pittsboro
Grands Chefs Relais & Châteaux Restaurant of a Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux and hotel in the country
Midway between the nation’s capitol and the historic port of Charleston lies Fearrington House Inn, Restaurant and Spa. Fearrington House has a relaxed agrarian feel yet cosmopolitan spirit, surrounded by Piedmont pastures containing rare Belted Galloway cows, and nestled between exquisite shops and restaurants, some of which are housed in adapted farm structures. Guests may stroll extensive grounds and gardens, enjoy author readings and culinary events, indulge in a therapeutic treatment in the spa, browse delightful boutique shops, taste a locally brewed beer at a seasonal beer garden, or wine, cheese and charcuterie at the wine shop, and experience the exceptional cuisine of Grand Chef Colin Bedford in the former farmhouse. Chef Bedford serves a menu of European Cuisine with Southern influences - A true taste of the region and the senses, only 8 miles from Chapel Hill, NC, the home of America’s oldest state university, and near the dynamic research and tech centers of Raleigh and Durham. ...Read more


Château de Feuilles - Seychelles, Ile de Praslin
Hotel and restaurant on the seafront
With its intimate atmosphere, Château de Feuilles boasts panoramic views of the sea and islands that are quite simply breathtaking. Just below the hotel, with its pool and deliciously exotic restaurant, the fine sandy beach of Anse Marie-Louise promises unforgettable dips in the Indian Ocean. And for that extra special occasion, have the island of Grande-Sœur all to yourself for a weekend. Can you imagine anything more romantic than that? ...Read more


La Villa Spa - France, Calvi
Restaurant and hotel on the seafront
When you cross the threshold of La Villa, on the slopes above Calvi, you know that you are entering another world. Jean-Pierre and Marion Pinelli have made this three-hectare estate, a place of harmony and tranquillity, an absolute must in Corsica. Most rooms boast stunning views of the bay and the citadel . The executive chef serves a cuisine which showcases a profusion of local ingredients from the Corsican terroir. Further enjoyment is to be found at the spa with its personalised treatments. Here art occupies pride of place: every year exhibitions are held as well as ‘Villa Nights’, charitable events with classical music. ...Read more


La Côte Saint Jacques & Spa - France, Joigny
Grands Chefs Relais & Châteaux Restaurant of a Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux and hotel on a river
The Côte Saint Jacques is a captivating destination. Most of the pleasant rooms have nice terraces, and there are panoramic views from the jacuzzi on the banks of the river Yonne. With an array of activities available, from cooking lessons, to strolling along the canal, an indoor swimming pool, a spa and special programmes for children, you will not be at a loss for things to do. Grand Chef Jean-Michel Lorain, the hotel’s exuberant owner, will welcome you like a friend, and if you’re lucky, he will let slip the secrets of his recipes. It’s worth a trip here just to enjoy his Genesis of a Dish. ...Read more


Il Melograno - Italy, Monopoli - Bari
Hotel and restaurant in the country
Tucked away in the heel of the Italian “boot”, Il Melograno welcomes you to its delightful setting, just three kilometres from the adorable little fishing port of Monopoli. Succumb to the charm of this 17th century “masseria”, or working farm, renovated in the 1980s by the antiques collector Camillo Guerra. With white-washed walls, Persian carpets, vaulted ceilings, orchards, 1,000 year-old olive trees and an Oriental-style spa, this hotel invites you to embark on a mini tour of the world and a journey back in time. Visit the town of Bari on the Adriatic coast, Ostuni, the “white city”, and the numerous cathedrals and crypts in the surrounding area. ...Read more


Carme Ruscalleda - Restaurant Sant Pau - Spain, Sant Pol de Mar
Grands Chefs Relais & Châteaux Restaurant of a Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux on the seafront
On the Catalan coast, between Girona and Barcelona, Grand Chef Carme Ruscalleda crafts creative, modern cuisine inspired by the landscape and Catalan culinary traditions. In this beautiful garden setting bordering the beach of Sant Pol de Mar, a charming commune full of character, Carme has developed her very own original gourmet style. Her cuisine showcases produce from the Maresme region, famous for its fishing ports, its specialised crops and its wild mountains. Dishes are characterised by a fine balance, respect for natural flavours, contrasts and the texture of the dishes. Since 2004, following professional exchanges with Japan, Carme’s cuisine has drawn on Nipponese influences which marry naturally with the culinary style at the Sant Pau. ...Read more


Restaurant Schwarzwaldstube - Germany, Baiersbronn
Grands Chefs Relais & Châteaux Restaurant of a Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux in the country
The views are idyllic, the forest air is revitalizing: in the heart of the Black Forest, Grand Chef Harald Wohlfahrt offers a festival for all the senses. Inspired by the tantalising diversity of the best produce and drawing inspiration from the virtues of cuisine the world over, he approaches traditional cuisine with a wealth of innovation. This pleasurable experience is further enhanced by sommelier Stéphane Gass and service full of joie de vivre. ...Read more


Château du Sureau - United States, Oakhurst, Yosemite Nat. Park
Hotel and restaurant in the mountains
The waterfalls and granite domes of Yosemite National Park make it one of America’s most spectacular natural sites. And the Château du Sureau is the ideal place from which to explore the park. This majestic hotel is reminiscent of the finest châteaux in Europe. Its elegant interior, featuring guest rooms named after fragrant herbs and flowers, is resplendent with fine antiques, tapestries and artwork. If you are lucky enough to visit on July 14, you will be treated to the Elderberry Harvest Dinner, a fabulous five-course feast in honour of the château’s namesake. ...Read more


Atrio Restaurante Hotel - Spain, Cáceres
Grands Chefs Relais & Châteaux Restaurant of a Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux and hotel in town
Located inside the walled town of Cáceres with its extraordinary Almohad, Gothic, Renaissance and colonial buildings, Atrio boasts sublime architecture by Emilio Tuñón Álvarez and Luis Moreno Mansilla, masters of modern design. In the heart of the medieval town, chefs José Polo and Toño Pérez prepare cuisine with unique, authentic flavours in a heavenly setting. Truffles, pasta and mushrooms, razor clams with cured Iberian ham, pig’s trotters, warm oyster and other gourmet creations are in complete harmony with the splendid building. ...Read more


Hôtel du Castellet - France, Le Castellet
Grands Chefs Relais & Châteaux Restaurant of a Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux and hotel in a park
On the edge of a forest of pine trees overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, the Hôtel du Castellet is one of the region’s most charming properties. Guest rooms are painted in hues of honey, lavender and grape and there are plenty of sun-drenched terraces. Grand Chef Christophe Bacquié has stamped his style on the Monte Cristo, the prestigious gourmet restaurant of the hotel. The cuisine is based on seasonal and Mediterranean produce enlivened by a hint of flavours from further afield. For absolute relaxation there is the pool, golf course and spa. When night falls, the gazebos are illuminated, to highlight the beauty of the grounds. ...Read more


Grand Hôtel du Lac - Switzerland, Vevey
Hotel and restaurant in town
The famous interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon has restored the elegance of this majestic residence on the shores of Lake Geneva. Rochon has created a universe that celebrates the historic past and combines it with subtle contemporary flourishes. The rooms look out on the lake and the Alps, the spa is exceptional and there is an oriental lounge where rare teas can be savoured. The cuisine gives pride of place to fresh produce, featuring fish from the lake and spices from all over the world. This is an inspirational place; Anita Brookner wrote her novel Hôtel du Lac within these very walls. ...Read more


Villa 32 - Taiwan, Beitou
Hotel and restaurant in town
It has been over one hundred years since the first hot springs hotel opened in Taiwan, and it became a destination thanks to the healing properties of the water. Villa 32 builds on this tradition of well-being and enhances it further by drawing on the delights of nature that surround it. Located in Beitou, tucked away between impressive mountains in a geothermal valley, this spacious villa has only five guest rooms – each with its own natural hot springs tub. Guests are welcomed into a private atmosphere in the midst of lush vegetation covered in mist from the hot springs. The late owner Ming-Hong Chiu has succeeded in crafting a delicate and relaxing atmosphere by artfully combining the surrounding natural elements of water, wood, trees and stone into the décor. ** Entrance is limited to guests to 16 years and above. ** ...Read more