There’s a new player on the French Riviera’s luxury rental landscape.
Amavia Collection opened the doors in May to Villa Gaia, a 5,000-square-foot spread with six suites and eight bathrooms, accommodating up to 12 people. Five of those suites are located on the villa’s second floor, with private terraces overlooking the Mediterranean.
And while the views are notably iconic — guests can spy Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat to Cannes — co-founders and managing partners Herve Gallo and Cedric Fontenit tell The Hollywood Reporter what’s inside separates Amavia Collection from its 5-star competitors.
More than just a shiny jewel in a desirable zip code (in the seaside town of Villefranche-sur-Mer), Villa Gaia has been designed with a slew of amenities meant to rival the world’s finest hotels while offering the privacy and convenience of a gated residence. It comes complete with a concierge service, Michelin-star chef, butler, cleaning staff, off-site manager, nighttime security personnel and an exclusive art collection curated specifically for the villa.
“The world is changing, and with COVID, things have accelerated quite a bit,” explains Fontenit, adding that the hotel experience has changed, and travelers are craving experiences they can’t get elsewhere. “What we really want to offer is a place for clients to reconnect with family and friends in the privacy of a home without having to compromise on the hospitality services that you can expect in a larger hotel. With [Amavia Collection], there’s no need to compromise.”
Alain Llorca, a chef with a self-described “Mediterranean heart,” crafted the menu program with a focus on local, organic options to accompany menus that range from poolside casual to gastronomic fine dining. “We want to provide what the client wants. If the client wants something very simple, they will get it, but made by the hands of [a Michelin-star chef]. If you want Pasta Bolognese or Croque Monsieur, you can have it, made by someone who worked in the best places in France and potentially in the world,” Gallo explains, adding that Llorca has “exceptional experience” preparing Japanese food, sushi, sashimi and robata. “It’s like a work of art when you see what he does. The goal, again, is really to provide the most exceptional experience for people who stay there.”
That ethos extends to the environment. Per the co-founders, Amavia’s core principles include a commitment to sustainability and environmentally friendly practices, with a focus on water efficiency and organic sourcing in areas from food and beverage to cosmetics and linens. Other features include an indoor spa that features a pool carved from natural stone, a sauna and a fully stacked Technogym fitness center, while outside there is a heated pool, pool house and outdoor kitchen with panoramic views of the sea. Also of note: an extensive wine cellar that leans on the organic side and is stocked with top pours from across France, plus a projection room for cinephiles.
The home’s décor has been curated by Amavia’s art director Aloisia Leopardi, who will be available to guests for personalized tours of the collection that, at launch, features more than 25 works by photographers, painters and sculptors like Tom Lovelace, Tereza Cervenová, Christopher P. Green, David Murphy and Rade Petrasevic. All works in the inaugural exhibition, titled “Identity and Mutability,” will be for sale.
“She’s so passionate about every artist,” Fontenit notes of the works that are displayed throughout the home and inside a designated gallery space. “It brings another dimension to the villa.”
Amavia has also struck a partnership with a local haute jeweler that will be on call to bring gems for private showings at the villa. Also available as optional programming are private yoga classes, cooking lessons, onsite beauty treatments, helicopter and boat rentals and VIP access to Amavia’s private beach restaurant in nearby Cap d’Ail, and much more.
While Amavia Collection launches with Villa Gaia, the firm plans to expand to other complementary locales throughout France like Provence, Courchevel, Corsica and potentially St. Tropez or Ibiza. Next up will be the opening of the 4,600-square-foot, five-bedroom Villa Olivia in Villefranche later this year. Gallo says that while Villa Gaia can be described as a more classical aesthetic, Olivia will be “extremely modern,” as a way to diversify the portfolio and offer choices for prospective guests that match their style.
The pair confirms that interest is already high for early bookings, with reservations going for 65,000 euros, or $67,750, per week. “There are a lot of villas for rent everywhere in the world,” says Gallo who, like Fontenit, worked as a jet-set finance and investment expert for years prior to launching Amavia. “But the amount of services that we offer and the attention to detail we provide our clients, we haven’t seen anything like it so far.”