Go for the glow: Monaco’s dazzling contemporary Renaissance to bring in the New Year

White winters have their charm, but there’s something exceptional about lunching outdoors on a dining terrace in the bright winter sun, surrounded by orange trees, ripe with fruit during the coldest months of the year. Call it the full Technicolor effect. Come December and January, when much of the planet is blanketed in snow, Monaco is ablaze with light, blossoming succulents and a cloudless blue sky.

Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo square during the winter holiday season

No matter the season, the timeless view of the shimmering turquoise sea remains unchanged, yet as 2018 comes to an end, visitors will witness the beginning of a new era in the Principality, beginning with the metamorphosis of Monte Carlo’s most iconic landmark. the five-star Hôtel de Paris. Add to that an ultra-contemporary new building next door, the One-Monte-Carlo that will be unique adventure in luxury boutique shopping.

The festivities kick off with a trail of scintillating stars at the Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer’s Resorts. Dubbed la Fête des Etoiles, you will not want to miss the resplendent “Golden Star” 8-meter Christmas tree of the new lobby at the Hôtel de Paris, decorated with festive gilded ornaments.  Over by the beach at the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort, the live DJ will be firing up the atmosphere on the heated terrace overlooking the Mediterranean. Champagne lovers will want to sip Veuve Cliquot at the cozy Christmas Alpine chalet installed on the Square Beaumarchais, across from the Hôtel Hermitage, Monte-Carlo, where can also children ride the retro-style carrousel. Once the sun sets, head inside the hotel to the elegant Limùn Bar for tea and homemade pastry, or indulge in more bubbly before dinner.

Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo

The stunning reinvention of the 207-room Hôtel de Paris is undoubtedly the highlight of the winter season, from the impressive gleaming Belle Époque-inspired Rotunda to the spacious contemporary suites, decked out in warm shades of precious woods, patinated brass and bronze fabrics. After the opening of the spectacular 910 square-meter Princess Grace Suite and the 7th and 8th floors last spring, the crowning last touch will be unveiled in February: the exclusive Prince Rainier suite, an elegant 525-square-meter sprawl with a pool, private bar and an office space, overlooking the Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo Square.

Princess Grace Suite at Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo

But that’s not all. Serious foodies and locals alike are rejoicing at the opening of the Hôtel de Paris’ beautiful new garden restaurant, Ô Mer, Mediterranean creations by Alain Ducasse, whose three Michelin-starred Le Louis XV, is a gastronomic landmark worldwide. This exciting new venture—which combines a nautical theme designed by Pierre Yves Rochon with the natural splendor of the hotel’s lush sub-tropical vegetation, landscaped by Jean Mus—features a mix of flavorful specialties from Greece, Lebanon, Turkey, Morocco and Tunisia.

Ô Mer restaurant and its Mediterranean gastronomy by Alain Ducasse

Looking ahead, in the spring of 2019, The One Monte-Carlo, a nouveau Art Deco-inspired building that includes 37 prestige apartments, a state-of-the-art conference center, a new causal-style restaurant Mada One, headed by Michelin-starred Blue Bay chef, Marcel Ravin, which will offer all-day dining. Die-hard shoppers will be treated to an outstanding assemblage of more than 20 boutiques of the most reputed fashion brands, all under the same roof.

Held from January 17-27, the celebrated International Monte-Carlo Circus Festival, now in its 43rd year, is a must-see for both kids and adults, featuring the world’s most outstanding performers. 

Monte-Carlo Circus Festival

Finally, in lieu of frosty ski slopes, sports fans can enjoy the annual Monte Carlo Sports Car Rally, held from January 24-27, 2019.  In its 87th year, this unique 382-kilometer race through the Alps, arrives in the heart of Monaco. Leave your ski gear behind but do bring your sunglasses!