Relais & Chateaux

love-opera-victoria-bakerRelais & Chateaux: those three words are synonymous with haute cuisine, fine wine and luxury hospitality.

For me, it’s a guarantee of quality. The Relais & Chateaux stamp is an assurance of exceptional service that has never let me down. But how did this illustrious company start?

Sixty years ago, Marcel and Nelly Tilloy, a couple of music-hall artistes who owned La Cardinale, a hotel and restaurant on the right bank of the Rhône, came up with the idea of advertising eight properties under the slogan ‘La Route du Bonheur’. Eight totally different houses, located away from towns on the road from Paris to Nice.

They were all united by shared values: top-quality amenities, outstanding fine dining and their own particular ideas about the Art of Living. This union of kindred spirits merged together to create the most prestigious hotel Association in the world: Relais & Châteaux. Today, nearly 520 Members are to be found along 53 Routes du Bonheur in 60 countries, all sharing the same enthusiasms.

Taking over as President in 1971, Jo Oliverau created Les Relais Gourmandes. This brought the culinary level of participating Relais to the highest standards possible so that in 1974, Relais & Chateaux and Relais Gourmands merged. All the restaurants associated with the Relais guides are exceptional for their service as well as their cuisine. If you want to treat a foodie to dinner just pick any restaurant from the Relais & Chateaux book and you cannot go wrong.

The 2014 Relais & Chateaux guide (which I have read from cover to cover) has hundreds of incredible properties on its roster. The handsome white book has a print run of a million issues, in four languages; it’s also available on the internet. Head office is Paris, but there are also offices in New York, London, Berlin and Tokyo. I enjoy browsing through the pictures and descriptions of the various properties and envy the job of Relais & Chateaux inspector.

He gets to travel the world, stay in the most beautiful accommodations and wine and dine on the best food imaginable. Of course, the inspection process is rigorous so it’s not all fun and games.

The value of something lies in the memory we preserve of it…long after you have made the purchase, when the sting of buyer’s remorse has faded, the memory of the joy it brought you will continue and therein lies its true value. In the grand scheme of life nothing is certain, but this I do know: we’re not taking anything with us. The only thing that may survive are the memories of our earthly experiences and this, Relais & Chateaux has made it their mission to guide us with.


Victoria Baker, of Greenwich, is an opera singer. Winner of many prestigious competitions, she has performed and worked with distinguished artists all over the world (notably at Lincoln Center). Should you have any questions that deserve answers and may be in print please call 203-531-7499 or e-mail [email protected]

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