Interview with Lucie Weill (Lily of the Valley): “We didn’t want sanitized wellness”.

Lucie Weill and her father Alain Weill (current CEO of the SFR group, and main shareholder in RMC and BFM) are the owners of the new wellness hotel everyone’s talking about: Lily of the ValleyThis is the perfect place to enjoy a day out on the beach at Gigaro, just a stone’s throw from Saint Tropez and yet far from the crowds. We tested and approved this sumptuous hotel(read our full review). Read on for our interview with Lucie Weill, Director of Hotel Development at WHM, the family-owned company behind this and future projects.

Sport is an essential part of Lily of the Valley

First of all, why this rather intriguing hotel name?

My father Alain came up with the name because he thought it sounded poetic. We didn’t want a classic name like “Bellevue” or “Panorama” – it didn’t fit in with the spirit of the place. Lily happens to be a small local plant that grows in the sand, so we thought the name made sense.

Tell us how the project came about.

My father always liked the hotel business, because it’s a 24/7 world, a bit like the media. For my part, I had some experience in the luxury sector, having worked for Givenchy, but I wanted to get back to basics, the immediate pleasure that a beautiful hotel can provide… I was too far from the experience. Our family had been coming to La Croix-Valmer for several generations, so it was only natural to create our first hotel on the heights of Gigaro beach.

A sports hotel (Photo: Lily of the Valley)

Why did you give it this strong wellness orientation?

Above all, it’s a matter of personal conviction. Once again, a family story. My father took up sport at the age of 50 and lost 12 kilos… He feels fitter overall now than he did at 30. As for me, I’m lactose intolerant, so I had to watch what I ate very early on. In our family, we know that health is a capital that needs to be nurtured early. We wanted to pass on this way of life to our residents.

Your hotel is innovative in France. Where did you find the inspiration for the wellness aspect of the hotel? Have you been abroad to see what’s going on?

Yes, of course, we did a benchmark. We realized that wellness in Europe is highly medicalized. The Swiss are very much into longevity, while Germany and Austria are into fasting. But we didn’t want white coats! In fact, it’s mainly in the USA that we’ve found our inspiration, in establishments like Miraval, where well-being is distilled in a pleasant, warm atmosphere.

Group lessons (Photo: Lily of the Valley)

Who are the clients of your wellness programs? How would you like to differentiate yourself from other wellness hotels?

Those who come to Lily of the Valley clearly want more than just to party in Saint Tropez. Our aim is to bring balance to all our customers… So far, we’ve had a lot of Europeans: Swiss, Germans, English and, of course, French. Residents who sign up for multi-day wellness programs are primarily looking to lose weight, and we’ve had just as many men as women.

We attract a clientele that wants results but doesn’t want a medi-spa, and especially not a thalasso. At home, we do a lot of outdoor sports, with mountain biking, Nordic walking… It’s all about oxygenation. Our credo is to combine pleasure & well-being with a “sexy” offer and results. It’s about living well and ageing well.

At the hotel, I never saw the word “organic” used, which surprised me a little given the hotel’s orientation. Could you explain why?

We wanted to give priority to local and sustainable agriculture: exceptional local products rather than organic products from another country. Our chef Vincent Maillard only works with seasonal produce, and he knows the local producers very well, who love the earth and work the traditional way, even barefoot. It makes no sense for him to do otherwise.

As far as cosmetics are concerned, organic formulas are less stabilized and often contain essential oils, which are contraindicated in sunny locations like ours. Besides, I’m a big fan of Biologique Recherche, so I couldn’t imagine another brand for our spa, because it’s the brand that produces the best results!

A magnificent and terribly relaxing spa (Photo: Lily of the Valley)

Can you tell us about Philippe Starck’s involvement in your project?

It was quite funny, because at the very beginning Philippe Starck didn’t want to work on the project, because he didn’t like the Côte d’Azur atmosphere. But when he arrived at our site, he realized that this was a completely different Côte d’Azur, a truly exceptional place that had remained very natural. Philippe Starck is himself a fan of detox stays, so our project spoke to him. Of course, we gave him carte blanche for the architecture of the site, our only constraint being that the hotel could not be seen from the sea. This integration into the environment is a real success for us. Once all the vines have grown, the hotel will blend even more seamlessly into the background.

Tell us about the future? What are your plans for the future?

First, we’re going to expand the hotel. We’ve just bought La Brigantine, a private plot of land on Gigaro beach, where we’re going to have our yacht club. Right behind, we’ll be building nine individual “waterfront” suites. This will be the hotel’s annex, and we’ll have to wait until 2021 to see this project completed.

As far as the development of our family hotel business is concerned, we would like to open another hotel in the mountains, in an exceptional location, where we can offer our sports and detox formula… At the moment, I can’t tell you any more, as nothing has been decided yet.

Interview conducted in December 2019.

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Read our full Lily of the Valley hotel review

Rates : From approx. 350 euros per night in low season for wellness guests. Weight loss programs from 2100 euros per person for 4 days. Luxe Wellness Club guests benefit from a guaranteed upgrade.

Call us on + 33 1 85 73 22 14 or on +41 22 501 75 16

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