carlton centenary

Centenary of the Intercontinental Carlton in Cannes

A hundred years of history, a hundred years of elegance.

Born with La Belle Epoque and designated a historic monument on October 10th, 1984, two of this art deco luxury hotel’s most remarkable features are its two-tone plaster façade with cement mouldings, and its two domes, directly inspired, according to legend, by the breasts of Carolina “La Belle Otero”. In a prime location on La Croisette boulevard, the hotel has been part of the ebb and flow of world events. Since 1913, this legendary building on La Croisette boulevard has symbolised all the magic of Cannes, but that’s not the only reason it’s famous. It is also famed for the refined glamour it has been cultivating since it was first built a hundred years ago – and yet it doesn’t look a day older! A legend of a hotel, filled with memories but as well of plans for the future. Throughout the year, this very special anniversary is going to be the occasion for a thousand and one surprises. These surprises will awaken all your senses, making sure the next twelve months are absolutely packed with colour, flavour, aroma, sensations and excitement. From the launch of a home perfume to the publication of a comic book, via a whole host of major events, this anniversary will be writen in gold in the InterContinental Carlton’s book of memories. Here are some of its most significant dates.


1911 -1913, a legend is born. It began to rise from the ground in 1909, but its splendour could not be fully appreciated until 1913. In 1911, Henri Ruhl opened the most beautiful monument in Cannes, the Carlton Hotel. This was not the definitive version of the establishment, however, as a new wing was to be built in 1913, after the adjacent Hôtel de la Plage has been bought to complet the hotel.  At that time hotels use to offer one bathroom for 10 rooms. Mr Ruhl and the  two architects, Charles Dalmas from Nice and Marcellin Mayère, from Cannes, willing to built the best possible hotel, turned their eyes towards London where one of the best hotels was… the Carlton Hotel – the name Carlton is of Scandinavian origin, and means ‘Town of the Free Man’- The chef of this prestigious hotel is Auguste Escoffier. Inspired by this hotel luxury services, Mr Ruhl decided to call his hotel the Carlton Hotel as well. For the British aristocracy, it is a name that speaks of elegance and dreams come true. The Carlton’s history is also closely connected to a certain luxury clientele from Russia, as Russia’s Grand Duke Michael had helped finance the building. When he arrived at Cannes, the Grand Duke built the Old Course Mandelieu-La-Napoule golf in 1891. Visionary, he promoted the city of Cannes under the slogan “Cannes city of Elegant Sports”. The Grand Duke was also one of the Carlton’s regular clients. When Grand Duke Michael used to stay at the Carlton, two valets had to go and milk a cow to make sure his milk was as fresh as could be! The Grand Duke Michael is in love with Sophie De Merenberg, poet Pouchkine’s granddaughter. Preferring Sophie’s love and the exile to the throne of Russia, he stayed in Cannes, which saved his life when the Bolchevick made the revolution. Many other members of the Russian aristocracy liked to frequent its great hotels at the time, and the resulting Russian colony galvanised high society in Cannes, spending large amounts of money and promoting the development of sports activities such as golf and sailing regattas, and later the tennis, thanks to the creativity of two Englishmen who created the first clay courts made out of smashed shards of pottery from nearby Vallauris.

During the First World War, the Carlton becomes a field hospital. The writer of Swiss origin, Blaise Cendrars, foreign volunteer in the French army received treatment there. Seriously injured in September 1915, his right arm was amputated.
At the beginning of the 20s, while the European countries, especially those who had to endure the terrible war, fully devoted themselves to restore the balance in their societies at the cost of immense sacrifices, the reputable society, subject to the need for economy and a return to simplicity, didn’t less appreciate the perfection of its tasty cuisine and the correct elegance of its services.

sdn1922, League of Nations is held at the Carlton.
In 1922, the Carlton hosted the Cannes Conference, a meeting of the League of Nations, forerunner of the UN. This meeting between diplomats was to be of great significance in the histor y of the interwar per iod. 1922 London, December 1921. During a meeting to discuss the Treaty of Versailles, British Prime Minister, Lloyd George, and his opposite number in France, Aristide Briand, decided to convene a meeting of the League of Nations, this time in Cannes. The decision to hold the meeting in Cannes suited both parties well. Like many of his wealthy British peers, Lloyd George had taken a liking to holidaying on the Cote d’Azur and planned to spend a few days there over the winter. One of Cannes’ major advantages from the French point of view, meanwhile, was that its size made it easy to manage safety and security issues. And the other was that the Cote d’Azur was already synonymous with luxury. Luxury hotels, fabulous villas and exceptionally clement weather would surely be the perfect setting for a summit such as this. And the Carlton was to be its main theatre of operation. The theme of this meeting in January 1922 was simple: staggering under the weighty cost of reparations, Germany had requested a moratorium. As the declared purpose of the meeting was to rebuild a financially viable Europe, this would be no easy task. Thus did the LN meet on La Croisette boulevard from January 4th to January 13th, 1922. However, history tells us that the conference was a diplomatic failure, and, on January 13th, Lloyd George invited the press to the Carlton, to announce that negotiations had come to a halt. The list of VIPs and heads of state attending the conference illustrates its importance: France – Aristide Briand, Prime Minister of France Great Britain – Lloyd George, Prime Minister of Great Britain Germany – Walter Rathenau, German Minister for Foreign Affairs Italy – Ivanoe Bonomi, Prime Minister of Italy USA – Colonel Harvey, American ambassador to Great Britain Belgium – Mr Theunis, Prime Minister of Belgium Japan – Baron Hayashi, diplomat member of the Japanese delegation to the LN. During the G20 in November 2011, the Carlton hosted Us Presiedent barak Obama, and the president will claim the same suite N° 523 that the US reprensentant occupied during the SDN meeting.


first-festival1946, the 1st Cannes Film Festival.
For a fortnight every year since 1946, Cannes is the capital of world cinema. Born in 1939, through the French government’s desire to organise a great gathering of the film world in a place famed both for its sunshine and its enchanting surroundings, the Cannes Film Festival did not really start to take off until 1946. As the hastily constructed Palais des Festivals was still incomplete – the tarpaulins replacing the roof were blown away during a storm that broke the day before the prize-winners were due to be announced – the opening ceremony for the first Cannes International Film Festival, and indeed the first major international event of the post-war period, took place on September 20th, 1946, in the town’s Casino. This first edition saw the birth of Italian neo-realism, with Roberto Rossellini’s “ Rome, Open City”. In a prime position at the epicentre of all the excitement, the Carlton quickly became a major player at the Festival, offering its legendary decor as background to meetings of the jury as well as lending its perfect profile to some of the greatest directors of our time. Thus, in just a few years, did the luxury hotel become one of the world’s most sought after film locations…



grace-kelly-cary-grant1954, Hitchcock makes To Catch a Thief at the Carlton.
One of the most beautiful areas in the wor ld, its most famous hotel, two magnificent star s; a perfect casting for Hitchcock’s mythical film production, “To Catch a Thief ”. This romantic thriller, first released in 1955, is set entirely on the French Riviera, with Hitchcock and his camera travelling up and down from St-Jeannet to Monaco. But out of all the spectacular scenery that makes this film so beautiful, it was the scenes set in the Carlton that made the greatest impression on the general public. Of course, the famous British director had used the luxury hotel on La Croisette boulevard for some of the feature film’s key scenes. For example, he got his leading actors to divest themselves of some clothing on the hotel beach. And he dressed his heroine in a dazzling blue strapless frock for dinner in the Grand Salon. A moment of intense elegance and glamour. And, fifty years later, the magic is still there: Grace Kelly fans can still be seen going into the hotel and asking to see the famous gala room, now a historic monument. For just a few seconds, they can see their idol at her most beautiful once more. 623, Alfred HitcHcock’s suite It may not be the biggest suite in the InterContinental Carlton hotel, nor the most luxurious one, but Suite number 623 is definitely the most legendary of them all! Yet it only took a few seconds in the spotlight for the suite to become a cinema legend. Just long enough for a scene whose fame has never diminished: outside the door of the suite, a close encounter, one man, one woman. She is a beautiful blonde, he is tall, dark and handsome. She, of course, is Grace Kelly. And he, Cary Grant.The perfect couple, as created by Alfred Hitchcock, for his film “To Catch a Thief ”. It is during the shooting of this film that Prince Raignier of Monaco gets to know Grace Kelly and falls in love with her. They will marry in 1956, and in tribute to Grace Kelly, the suite 750 bears the name of the late Princess.

intercontinental-carlton1982, InterContinental Carlton. The Carlton, one of the most beautiful treasures on La Croisette, was acquired by InterContinental. In 1949, InterContinental Hotels Corporation began its expansion, initially opening an establishment in Belem, Brazil, followed, in the fifties, by numerous others in Latin America and the Caribbean. In the 60’s, InterContinental moved into the Middle East, Asia and Africa, and in 1963 it opened four hotels in Europe. 1970-1980 saw development in North America, while in 1982 the group acquired La Croisette’s iconic luxury hotel, the Carlton, known henceforth as the InterContinental Carlton. The group is now strategically positioned throughout the world and its gamble has clearly paid off, as its hotels attract clients from the worlds of both business and tourism. In 2009, the Carlton undertook a total refurbishment of its lobby and 7th floor, with the intention of making them ‘light, transparent, elegant and modern’. Three new suites with prestige names were added on the 7th floor: Uma Thurman, Cary Grant and Sean Penn. All the suites (which range from 150 to 250 square meters in size) are elegantly decorated, using noble materials, wooden trims and panelling, and floors and furniture made of precious woods. intercontinentAl Hotels & resorts in figures ‘ Impressive’ is a bit of an understatement when describing the InterContinental Group’s portfolio: over 150 hotels in 65 different countries. And in 2013, no less than 7 new establishments are to be opened, in Marseille, Davos (Switzerland), Kuwait, Senegal, China, and Hanoi, while hotel in Saudi Arabia is in the pipeline for 2014.

g202011, G20 in Cannes. Where great powers get together. The 3rd and 4th November 2011 saw La Croisette hosting, not the stars of the silver screen, but twenty-five heads of state and government attending the G20 summit. Yes, they Cannes ! In 2011, the movie capital of the world was selected to host the greatest summit ever held in France. The summit had some very major challenges to address, not least of which was to find a solution to the euro crisis. The countries attending the event included Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Heads of state and government from Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates were also asked to attend. Accustomed as it is to playing a central role in international political history, it came as no surprise when the InterContinental Carlton was given the opportunity to welcome a true guest of honour, in the shape of Barrack Obama no less! The American president chose to stay on the 5th floor of the hotel, thereby following the precedent set in 1922 by Mr Harvey, when he attended the League of Nations conference.

(Texts and photos courtesy Intercontinental Carlton)

Centenary of the Intercontinental Carlton in Cannes was last modified: August 25th, 2013 by tamel

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