A sister on the sand dune
TEXT: KATIE TURNER | PHOTOS © HA(A)ÏTZA
Just like at a fireworks display, where there’s an ‘oh!’ there will inevitably be an ‘ah!’, and this is the case here also. The Ha(a)ïtza – which means ‘the rock’ in Basque – is located just 500 metres from its sister La Co(o)rniche, and together, they create a village feel for guests who can wander between the two at their leisure.
During the 20th century, the hotel was a playground of the great and the good, from fashion designer Jeanne Lanvin, the Rothschild and Michelin families, to French singer Charles Trenet and actor Yves Montand. “It doesn’t have that sickly ‘olde worlde’ sort of charm: it’s chic and cosmopolitan, artistic even,” says legendary designer Philippe Starck who was invited to breathe new life into the building, just as he has done at La Co(o)rniche.
While from the outside, the 38-room Ha(a)ïtza blends perfectly with the seaside and the pine forest, inside, there’s an eclectic mix of styles, from African adventures in the main space, to minimalist walkways recalling art galleries in New York, via a riot of colour in the Brazil-inspired bar.
At the hotel’s Michelin-starred ‘Skiff Club’, chef Stéphane Carrade wows with short menus showcasing the best of regional and seasonal produce. He’s a local boy using local ingredients, so seafood naturally makes an appearance, but the menu changes depending on Carrade’s vision and what’s fresh that day.
If patisserie is your thing you have world champion ‘cannelé’-maker Antony Prunet at your service in the Tea Room. Cannelés are an iconic, French, vanilla and rum-flavoured pastry, first made in nearby Bordeaux: but his repertoire features all the French classics.
Ha(a)ïtza Cafe, across the road, offers a relaxed family atmosphere. The menu changes daily and features the classic French ‘menu’ for those who’ve worked up an appetite, with a long walk along the dunes, a bike-ride through the pines or a workout in the hotel gym.
Feeling just a little less energetic? You could stay close to home and enjoy a dip in the heated pool which is open year-round thanks to a magnificent retractable roof. In summer, double loungers invite you to while away the hours after a trip to the on-site spa or soak up the sun with a good book.
The Ha(a)ïtza, with its village feel, can be anything you want it to be – hotel, high-end restaurant, brasserie, bar, tea room or spa. You never need to leave, and you’ll probably never want to.