In Evian, in France's Haute-Savoie region, about 30 miles east of Geneva. Evian holds a commanding position on the southern side of Lac Léman (what the French call Lake Geneva). The Ermitage sits in the splendid 42-acre Royal Parc Evian, also home to its big sister, the Hôtel Royal, and the world-renowned Evian Masters golf course, which celebrates its centenary this year. Built in 1907, the Ermitage resembles a traditional Alpine chalet but on an immense scale, combining Anglo-Norman and Savoyard architecture.
Evian's superior facilities have helped to make its reputation as a spa resort of the first order. The Maison les Quatre Terres offers every imaginable kind of treatment - that is, when you're not making use of the outdoor or indoor pools, Jacuzzi, steam room, etc. I tried out the soin peau d'ange; after a salt scrub and heated mud wrap, you really do have the skin of an angel. The pamper factor excels itself in the post-treatment chill-out room, where the loungers are actually mini waterbeds.
The comfort factor
Sumptuous and extremely relaxing. Most of the rooms have either a balcony or covered alcove, giving you a soothing view of the lake, the Alps and Lausanne in the distance. It's just the spot for a leisurely breakfast. The decor is uncluttered and very comfortable, with country furniture and pale walls. The luxurious feeling continues in Le Birdie bar, where you're greeted with roaring fires.
Simple chrome fittings, massive mirrors, fluffy bathrobes, slippers, bathroom scales and, naturally, a can of Evian water spray. Toiletries are by John Rochas, and they also throw in a bottle of his eau de cologne.
Food and drink
Abundant: the whole complex has eight restaurants. The Ermitage itself has the excellent and unpretentious Gourmandin, which serves regional specialities. Guests can use the Michelin-starred Café Royal and the low-calorie but full-flavoured Jardin des Lys at the Royal, as well as smaller cafés at the golf club and casino.
Warm, friendly and utterly professional staff, and the well-bred European guests are just as genial.
The golf, the spa, the horse-riding, the archery, the boat trips, the casino. All that is on your doorstep. Venture further afield and you're in prime Alpine skiing country.
The Children's Club offers an exceptional range of activities - both indoor and outdoor - for youngsters from two to 18. And if children under 15 fancy staying in their parents' room, they go for free. Facilities for people with disabilities are very good: there's easy access throughout the hotel and some of the rooms have been specially adapted for disabled guests.
Mid-season rates range from €120 (£80) to €240 per person per night, based on two sharing. There are half-board and full-board options.
Hôtel Ermitage, Royal Parc Evian, South Bank of Lake Geneva, BP 8-74501, Evian-les-Bains, France, 00 33 4 50 26 85 00; fax: 00 33 4 50 75 61 00; www.royalparcevian.com; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
French Golf Holidays (01277 824100, www.frenchgolfholidays.com) offers three nights' b&b from £650 per person, including flights, car hire and two days on the Masters course.Reuse content