In this edition of How We Started we catch the infectious enthusiasm and passion of Anne-Claire Conraud who shares the fascinating story behind the founding of her company Villas Prestiges & Services, the ultimate luxury holiday and villa experts for the glamorous French Riviera destination of Saint Tropez.
“It was in Ibiza where my passion awoke. The friendly welcome of this island – which is often mistakenly described as the contrary – was really tell-tale and a unique experience for me. It was unknown territory, but luckily I knew the language. This granted me the possibility to converse with the Ibizans, which in turn led me to grow personally, to discover, learn and to be in tune with men and women from the world over, brought together on this small island. The human and intellectual diversity as well as the freedom of expression on the island was very in line with my personality and allowed me to become my true self.
“At the time I was the assistant of the French Consular Officer, who was also a real estate agent. Therefore, above my diplomatic role between France and Spain, I played an important social role for the French who vacationed or lived full time on the island. I developed the holiday rental activity of the agency and its concierge services, something which was completely revolutionary for Ibiza at the time period, but which I feel was indispensable. In the end it was a fabulous success!
“I learned quite a lot from consular protocol. From dramatic situations to handle to legal ones, from births to deaths and from political to diplomatic obligations, it was a highly demanding yet passionate and very humane experience through which I acquired vast know-how, adaptability and respect for others. It was an enriching “school of life” that became my passion.
“A passion that I’ve apply to my profession since 1989 and specifically in Saint Tropez for the last 18 years. This passion goes towards making each and every family happy during their holidays, to guarantee that their greatly anticipated and meticulously prepared moments are unforgettable.
“Founded by my sister and me, Villas Prestige & Services grew out of our shared passion and determination. Two sisters from Normandy embarking on the south! It was both promising and misplaced, however, with her experience in the hotel business and mine in diplomacy, it was the perfect match. We started each season with fresh ideas and were always open to those of our clients, some being quite demanding. Nevertheless, for us, no matter the client, each one is special and each detail of their vacation is of the utmost importance. Our professionalism and our excellent network of partners has created a wonderful energy, which has led to faithful, happy clients coming back time and again.
“Saint Tropez is an exceptional village with a rich history and culture as well as an important global reputation. Protected and served by Mediterranean and surrounded by rolling vineyards which yield the area’s famous rosé “French water” and hills covered in magnificent and protected umbrella pines and oak trees; the setting is simply majestic. The beautiful Bay of Pampelonne is lined with fine sand adorned by stylish sunbathers and the dazzling sea is a favorite meeting point of yachts; all of this gives Saint Tropez an irresistible “je ne sais quoi” which attracts stars, writers, artists, politicians and, for a few months a year, an incredible array of international visitors.
“The best beaches, the perfect restaurant for all occasions, impeccable chauffeurs, helicopters, personal trainers, language tutors, private Michelin-starred chefs, sommeliers, masseuses, skippers, access to Chanel, Dior or Vuitton – everything is possible and is personally selected to suit each client and their needs. We can also arrange excursions further afield to Corsica, the music festival in Aix en Provence, opera in Monaco, theater in Nice, the Mussem in Marseille; the French Riviera and beyond is at our fingertips.
“But there’s actually no need to even leave Saint Tropez. The morning pleasures of breakfast at the port at Sénéquier, a meander around the emblematic Tuesday and Saturday market packed with stalls of colorful flowers, fragrant herbs and freshly caught fish – glorious in the soft morning sunshine – or a round of pétanque in Place des Lices. At night the village shows a different face, buzzing with lively terraces overflowing with friends meeting over a glass of wine, glamorous women showing off their latest attires, couples out for a leisurely evening stroll, the rose vendor Josie circling with her wares and lovers savoring a tender kiss on the small La Ponche beach, immortalized by Brigitte Bardot in the classic movie “And God Created Woman” – all of this creates a romantic ambiance that is magnetic and so glamour.
“Passing on our French savoir-faire, our language, demystifying cultural curiosities, adoring the families who choose to share their vacations with us, working hard to design the absolute best for them, right down to the last detail and with a warm welcome, ensuring they leave delighted and come back – that is our mission!
“Welcome to Saint Tropez! We love what we do! L’Art de Vivre A La Française et L’Art de Recevoir!”
Merci beaucoup for your riveting tale, Anne-Claire! Tap into the immense passion and expertise of Anne-Claire and her team to plan an unforgettable holiday in stunning Saint Tropez by reaching out to them here.