Travel

In with the ‘in crowd' at St. Tropez

Eric Omores, 47, is a partner in the Nikki Beach nightclub and resort chain; he manages their properties in St. Tropez, France, and St. Barts, in the Caribbean. Omores lives a half year at each place. He is a native of Senegal.

Q. You're currently in St. Tropez, on the French Riviera. How's the weather?

Beautiful, with temperatures between 27 and 31 Centigrade (about 81-88 Fahrenheit). Absolutely perfect, though when the season started at the end of May, we had a little rain. There's been no rain for a while.

Q. What's the town like, with and without tourists?

About 7,000 people live in the village; the population can go up to 10,000 during peak season.

St. Tropez is a small, small town – a fishermen's village that's very quiet and peaceful. Very traditional looking, with a specific architecture you find in the south of France, with trees and flowers you only find in the area. It's very Mediterranean looking.

The area has always attracted a certain type of person. Actress Brigitte Bardot bought a house here. She's famous for being a free-spirited woman, and many wanted to be associated with her attitudes.

Even in the 1960s and early '70s, a lot of Parisian artists and musicians were hanging out here. Films were shot here. Actors and artists create a certain environment, and that brought in the jet-set crowd. As a result, St. Tropez is a very international place.

There's also beach culture from the old days, when the beach clubs were little shacks that belonged to people who lived in the back of them. The tradition was, if you wanted to eat on the beach, you'd just eat on the beach.

That became more sophisticated after the first movie was shot here. Beach shacks were turned into famous, trendy beach clubs. Going to the beach to eat became almost a lifestyle. You'd come fully dressed and ate food, not just a snack.

Q. Is Bardot still around there?

She still has her home; you can see her every now and then. I haven't seen her so far this summer, but someone just told me they saw her on the Place de Lys.

Q. How far is St. Tropez from Monte Carlo?

About an hour and a half. There's some back and forth on the boats: People will go over for the day. You can commute there in 20 minutes by helicopter.

Q. And from Cannes and its film festival?

Probably an hour and 15 or 20 minutes, if you don't have traffic. We set up a Nikki Beach tent every year in Cannes for the festival.

Q. I read that St. Tropez at one time was a major cargo port.

Yes, but none of that has remained. All the facilities were changed to handle yachts; the ship presence is more yachting than anything.

Q. And it was a major landing place in World War II, correct?

Exactly. It's remembered in every conversation: People know this is where the Allies landed to liberate southern France in August 1944, but I haven't seen a monument to that. On the anniversary the remembrance is manifested on the landing beaches.

Q. Your St. Tropez property is a nightclub, not a hotel. How far is it from the beach?

Our club is a little recessed; the property is about 80,000 square feet. On the shore is a public beach, then a protected dune; we're behind the dune.

Our main building has the kitchen, restroom, bar, sushi bar and a little photo shop. Outdoors on the rest of the property we put the restaurant, the lawn chairs and pool – we have a big pool. It's basically a big playground for the jet-set crowd.

Q. How busy does it get on a summer day?

On a good day, 400 to 500 for lunch; at the bar, close to 1,000. At one point during summer, when weather allows, we open at night but still in restaurant mode. It's still chilly at night but soon the weather will be warm enough to be open at night. But only until 2 a.m.

Q. With all those jet-setters, you must have a ringside seat for latest trends. What's the drink of choice this season?

Champagne always flows strongly. In St. Tropez, champagne is traditional. Brands? Cristal and Dom Perignon. One of our specialty drinks is the mojito.

Q. What's new on the menu?

We change every season. One of our latest popular choices is a big seafood platter, where you choose your live lobster, other shellfish or fish and we cook it.

Q. What does it cost to dine there?

It depends. A lobster platter can be up to 500 or 600 euros (about $794-$953); it's priced by the pound. Caviar is priced by the weight, from 50 grams and up. It's 150 euros (about $238) for 100 grams.

Q. Celebs attract annoying photographers. Much problem with the paparazzi at your place?

We've been famous for the last couple of years; it's definitely a hangout where they'd like to be.

We don't let them on our property, but they find a lot of subjects in St. Tropez.

Q. And I'd think you get on a first-name basis with some famous folks.

Yes. Again, St. Tropez has attracted some of these people for years; they come to shop and to hang out at the clubs. It's a very special community that comes here.

Q. I'd think that from time to time, even a jet-setter can get thrown out of a place. Does that happen?

No. It's almost “natural selection,” I guess, in this area. We work a lot with reservations: People who end up coming to our place know where they're going.

These customers know the concept and the regulations. They're the “in” crowd.

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