Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo is a stunningly sophisticated spa located within a four-story, stand-alone 75,000-square-foot structure constructed with tall glass window walls to take advantage of the panorama: the ship-shaped Yacht Club de Monaco, the mega-yachts at port and in the Mediterranean, and the Prince’s palace. The street entrance serves members and guests, but hotel guests usually enter (wearing bathrobes and bathing suits) via indoor corridors, from both the Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo and the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo.
An extraordinary spa with an extensive menu of à la carte beauty and body services, Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo includes day-packages and a series of four-day wellness protocols. Accommodations and medical testing are optional, and programs focus on everything from fitness to thalassotherapy to anti-aging and slimming services. The multidisciplinary staff includes a team of doctors, nutritionists, therapists, and trainers, plus an extraordinary chef, who has created multiple haute cuisine minceur, or gastronomic spa cuisine, menus.
The grand oval-shaped, heated indoor seawater spa pool is the centerpiece of the complex and a fitness venue, with multiple daily aqua-aerobic classes. Nearby, there’s the reception desk, lounge and oh-so-chic boutique. The incredible view dominates the fitness studio, intimate juice bar, and the formal, gourmet spa restaurant, L’Hirondelle.
At L’ Hirondelle, fresh, seasonal, and local ingredients are incorporated into nutritious culinary creations. Chef Jean-Laurent Basile develops the three prix-fixe menus in collaboration with nutritionist Veronique Liesse: Le Menu du Marché, Market Menu (chef-inspired according to the market), Le Menu Wellness, a Wellness Menu (gluten-free, light dishes with calorie counts for each) and Le Menu Veggie, a Veggie Menu (detoxifying vegetarian options). Plus, there’s a suggestion menu with starters, pasta dishes, meat dishes, fish dishes and vegetarian dishes, each coded according to whether it’s gluten-free, sustainable fishing, and/or green detox.
The word bio, which substitutes for “organic,” in France, appears throughout the menus, where appropriate. Guests can mix and match from one menu to another, and the price is determined by whether the meal includes a two- or a three-course formule, (what the French call the prix-fixe menu). A handy, bilingual chart also lists every menu item and indicates whether it incorporates gluten, milk, eggs, fish, nuts. seafood, soy or sulphites (even lupin)!
On a recent visit, we dined inside the window-walled dining room. I considered the starter choices: a panier (basket) of crudité? Shrimp on a skewer? Poached white asparagus? Salmon tartare? I sat staring at the beautiful plates being served to other white-cloth-topped tables before placing my order from Le Menu Veggie: Taboulé de quinoa. (The ring of tabbouleh was decorated with individual citrus segments and topped with micro-greens.) During lunch, I sampled my host’s starter, softly-scrambled eggs, topped with truffles.
Our entrées arrived under a silver dome, called a cloche; my Filet de loup grillé with ginger (grilled fish) from Le Menu Wellness (276 calories) was topped with teeny cherry tomato halves, parsley, and red radicchio slivers—and looked as beautiful as it tasted. The cloches reminded me of my first meal at L’ Hirondelle with my late husband, in the mid-2000s. I recall being seated at a table on the terrace with a port view among Monagasques in business attire—wearing ties or high heels—and tourists, in chic sportswear. At the neighboring table, three (older) men clad in white terry robes and three bejeweled, bikini-clad (younger) women chatted informally; behind them, three waiters in white each lifted two silver cloches, in choreographed unison!
Desserts were amazing, from chocolate mousse to mango mousseline, sorbets to fresh pineapple or berries. We shared a spectacularly smooth crème brulée bourbon vanilla with a crackly crust under a pear sorbet.
Later, my thalassotherapy treatment started with a 20-minute soak in a multi-jetted hydrotherapy tub, which was followed by a grape-seed and sesame-seed oil rub and a scrub exfoliation, called gommage, with sel de guérande, sea salt from Brittany, a shower and application of a moisturizer. My daughter described her service: “I was on an air mattress above a tub when they applied the mud; then they warmed the air in the mattress to warm the mud; afterwards, I took a shower and a soak in a jetted hydrotherapy tub session. Loved it!”
The following sunny day, we took the shuttle from L’Hermitage (it is complimentary for guests of the hotels that are part of the Société des Bains de Mer Monte-Carlo) to the Cinq Mondes Spa at the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort, which has access to the sea. After a massage, we spent time at the resort’s indoor-outdoor pool, where I lounged in the shade reading a book about the Côte d’Azur called, Riviera Dreaming, and where we were served a lovely Salade Niçoise.