Monaco more than lived up to its glamorous reputation

SBM property
Mika Lara experienced a fantasy turned real as a guest of SBM
Spanning just 200 hectares, Monaco is the second smallest country in the world, but what Monaco lacks in size it more than makes up for in attitude and glamour. The country’s city is Monte Carlo. Take a group there and they will step into a fantasy world that will seduce them with its lavish and opulent lifestyle.

Some of its main hotel properties and visitor attractions are members of the SBM Group and from the moment of arrival in an SBM hotel, it feels as though you have stepped onto the set of a James Bond movie. In the very centre of town are the Hotel de Paris and the world-famous Monte Carlo Casino, the background to so many movies of glamour and adventure.

The founder of SBM in the 19thC, François Blanc, said: ‘This place has to be about dreams, enjoyment and beauty’ and undeniably SBM continues to deliver all that.

There’s nowhere I felt this more than when drawing up to the magical Place du Casino, a square fringed with palm trees and backdropped by a skyline of high-rise buildings and verdant mountains. Even more mesmerising at night, Hotel de Paris lights up Place du Casino. With such a prestigious reputation to live up to, the hotel and casino themselves, in all their splendour and elegance, did not fail to dazzle.

The extravagant lifestyle doesn’t stop there - home to some of the world’s most famous sporting occasions, Monte-Carlo attracts groups from around the world to enjoy its thrilling atmosphere and events from boxing to polo and, of course, its Formula One Grand Prix.

Steeped in culture and history and home to the oldest monarchy, Monaco is favourably located on the French Riviera, tucked between the French Alps and Italy. A 30-minute transfer by road from Nice airport (or just seven minutes by helicopter) it’s no problem reaching this destination.

Beyond the riches and prestige, the élite SBM experience is a dream for organisers. Firmly established as a major player in the MICE tourism market, SBM boasts four seafront hotels, four casinos, a newly refurbished Conference and Events Centre, the Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo Spa and the new boutique shopping district One Monte-Carlo. Across all of its properties, SBM comprises a total of 852 rooms, 45 meeting rooms and banquet halls, more than 30 bars and restaurants - and spaces which can cater for any kind of event from meetings to gala dinners and product launches. SBM, therefore, has an unrivalled range of possibilities and indulgent experiences to offer your guests.

Each of the individual hotels has something exclusive to offer, showcasing its own individual style, atmosphere and philosophy. The remarkable hotel surroundings and ambiances are designed to motivate guests – ideal for a business incentive trip. Attention to detail is apparent, even down to the exclusive perfume smells developed for individual hotels.

Despite these distinct stylistic differences, the hotels are all inter-connected, including a free shuttle service for guests. SBM’S unique ability to utilise and combine facilities across establishments allows for great scope in customising events to suit different business needs. Furthermore, the connections between establishments means only one point of contact is required with SBM, ensuring an efficient and smooth booking experience.

Hotel de Paris as a prestigious MICE location
Palatial and majestic, the newly renovated Hotel de Paris is a world away from a traditional business hotel. The hotel is recurrently ranked among the finest in Europe and there’s no difficulty in guessing why. With glittering lobbies, sumptuous furnishings and a stream of luxury sports cars drawing up outside, the Hotel de Paris is a window into the life of high society and glamour.

On arrival I was promptly met by warm and welcoming staff and the high-quality service continued to be a standout feature during my stay. I was momentarily stunned walking into the main lobby, awed by its sheer grandiosity, the high ceilings and glistening décor. The hotel has close links with the Monaco Royal Family and boasts an exclusive suite in tribute to a dearly regarded long-reigning former prince, The Diamond Prince Rainier Suite III. This suite boasts a collection from the Prince himself, impressively combining contemporary design with classical and royal influences. A group can dine on the patio with a view of the famous Monte-Carlo skyline and unwind with a dip in the spectacular infinity pool.

Whichever room is chosen, there will be no disappointment. Offering 209 rooms and suites, all with either a sea view or with a view over Place du Casino, the hotel boasts a bar, three restaurants, including two with Michelin stars, eight spacious meeting and banquet rooms, including The Empire Room and Terrace. This listed reception room has the capacity to host up to 464 people.

For the ultimate relaxation experience at the end of the day, Hotel de Paris and Hotel Hermitage have direct access to the Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo Spa, which has the biggest seawater pool in Europe. Another point of interest is the outside patio space in the heart of the hotel. This space can be dedicated to hosting cocktail or dinner events, where on warm evenings groups can dine beneath summer skies.

Modern conference centre SBM offers a brand new conference centre called One Monte Carlo, located in the heart of Place du Casino. It offers a huge range of possibility for meetings, conventions, product launches and events. The centre is very modern and all meeting rooms have natural light. Across the SBM organisation, 95% of meeting rooms have natural light to reduce energy expenditure, in line with SBM’s drive to be environmentally friendly.

The centre has a large open foyer, where refreshments can be served for events. Meeting rooms can be tailored to cater for big or small groups and all rooms are sound-proofed. A standout feature is the two-ton capacity lift able to handle cars or other weighty exhibits.

The golden Salle des Arts is an impressive Art Deco ballroom, which is able to accommodate up to 300 people. The room is an identical replica of the legendary Salle des Arts in the former Palais des Beaux-Arts.

Hotel Hermitage and Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel and Resort
Hotel Hermitage and Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel and Resort are venues ideal for incentive trips. Both hotels are well adapted for large groups, providing a separate entrance to ensure the successful running of events.

Hotel Hermitage is an exquisitely elegant and classical 5-star hotel. In total it has 278 romantically stylized rooms and suites, a bar, a Michelin-star restaurant, 14 meeting and banqueting rooms, including a conference room that can host up to 310 people. In total it can host events of up to 400 people with separate meeting and banqueting spaces, fitted with the latest technology. A unique offering across these meeting spaces are its seven terraces and gardens, with views ranging from the Prince’s medieval palace, a beautifully quiet and romantic garden or a prime position to view the famous curves of the Monaco Grand Prix.

Within this repertoire of meeting and banqueting spaces, I think the listed Belle Epoque Room is the runaway standout feature. This timeless golden banquet room left me momentarily speechless. With its capacity for 400 and showcasing an impressive terrace overlooking the superyachts moored at the port, the Belle Epoque is an exquisite choice for fine events.

For larger gatherings, the Salle des Etoiles at the Monte-Carlo Bay hotel is an outstanding venue catering for up to 950 people. The vast windows allow for spectacular views across the Mediterranean coastline, particularly impressive for evening events, when one can see Monte-Carlo’s glittering lights. It has been the scene for performances by stars such as Celine Dion and Mariah Carey, has multiple screens, a stage and fully equipped sound system and so is an unrivalled choice for company conferences and extraordinary evening events. In addition, the roof can be opened allowing guests to dine under a star-studded sky, creating an enchanting experience.

Beyond the Salle des Etoiles, the 4-star Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel has the ideal infrastructure for hardworking events, from its business centre to its own private helipad. The hotel has 333 rooms and suites decorated in a contemporary and uniform style, as well as 15 meeting and banqueting rooms covering 14,423 sq ft, which can all be privatised. All rooms have large balconies and 75% overlook the sea. The hotel has four hectares of gardens on the seafront, including an organic vegetable garden - another way in which SBM as an organisation promotes and prioritises sustainability.

The hotel is unparalleled in its sports and leisure opportunities, offering great business incentives. The hotel’s sandy-bottomed, tropical lagoon is the only one of its kind in Europe and is an exceptional venue for evening cocktail or gala parties. Ranging from cooking classes and team-building activities on the nearby tennis courts and golf course, to the Gin Bar and its own casino and night club - there’s so much to do a group doesn’t even need to leave the hotel.

The hotel invites you to dine on the terrace in the Mediterranean sunshine - Monte-Carlo boasts over 300 days of sunlight per year! The Blue Bay star-awarded restaurant offers cuisine that features a fusion of Caribbean and Mediterranean flavours.

My seafood special was delicious! In the evening the Blue Gin Bar (ideal for networking) had been transformed into a mountain chalet with a heated outdoor terrace looking out to sea.

Venturing beyond SBM’s opulent/ fantastical hotels, Monte-Carlo has sights to marvel at whichever way you turn. It’s hard to drag the eye away from the impressive tiered skyline. I was struck by the unique way the properties have been built into the hills, squeezing a wide range of architecture into a small space - to beautiful effect. From Belle-Epoque to modernist designs, the building’s roofs are bursting with foliage and greenery. In this way the limited space has not affected Monaco’s green spaces. Sustainability is built into the Monegasque way of life and this ecologically conscious mindset has extended to SBM’s hotels. The parks and gardens blooming on roofs offer pockets of green breathing spaces away from the densely populated Monte-Carlo. The lush vegetation thrives in this Mediterranean climate, ranging from lemon trees to fire lilies and palms. The Jardin Exotique has an abundant array of flora.

Groups are invited to explore the cobbled and medieval streets of The Rocher, the charming old town of Monte-Carlo. The old town juts out from the rest of Monte-Carlo - a prime location to view Monaco and the French Riviera. It is noteworthy to mention that Monaco is an especially safe place to walk around and explore.

The vision of SBM is to make Monaco the most exclusive experience in Europe. Hedonistic and self-indulgent, the SBM experience aims at being not only world class, but also environmentally responsible and sustainable. Ideal for organisers and inspiring for their guests and delegates - a stay with SBM does not fail to impact and will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression.

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