A businessman built Hotel Tresanton in the 1940s as a clubhouse for himself and his sailing friends in St Mawes. Soon after, the sailing club became a very popular hotel in the 1950s. In 1997, Olga Polizzi purchased Tresanton. The well-known interior designer and design director of the Rocco Forte Hotel Group, which she built together with her brother Rocco Forte, says of Tresanton that buying her own hotel was the best decision of her entire professional life. Here she can realize her personal style. And it shows, because similar to her second hotel, Endsleigh in Devon, all the rooms are very individually decorated and exude a special charm. Lots of art on the walls, antiques and found objects with a maritime theme. Fabrics and cushions in harmonious color schemes. A wonderful mixture, which seems quite harmonious in itself. Tresanton is a nested hotel, built over several levels and buildings into the hillside. Here a corner, there a room. Many terraces and places to linger. A cozy salon with a large fireplace, a sun terrace with lounge furniture, a beautiful restaurant with mosaic floors and sea views. All rooms have a view of St. Mawes Bay. Some also have their own terrace.
Tresanton is kid-friendly, with a playhouse for children. The family suites have children’s bedrooms in cabin form. But dog owners have also been thought of. Although there is no overnight accommodation in the house for the four-legged friends, there is a common place to stop in the Dogs Bar, which is located directly at the lower entrance at the level of the coastal road.
Olga Polizzi says that Tresanton is in constant change. This is also due to her passion for interior design. Rooms are constantly being redesigned by her and staged with new finds from antique markets. 2017 is currently all about the new terrace.
It will be the first and only hotel in the area to open a beach terrace in summer 2017. Below the hotel, and below the narrow coastal road that runs through St Mawes, the Beach Club will then invite guests to linger on three levels.
There are fantastic walks to be had along the Cornish coast. In the village of St Mawes there are nice restaurants and boutiques. A passenger ferry departs from the small harbor and takes passengers to St Anthony in Roseland every half hour. The old lighthouse is the symbol and namesake of Tresanton.
Leaving Hotel Tresanton to the right up the road, a beautiful walk along the coast begins. Passing St. Mawes Castle, built by Henry VIII in 1542, it takes a good two hours to walk there and back. Depending on the length of stay at the destination, of course. Because a surprise awaits you there.
Cemetery under palm trees
At the end of the coastal walk, a cemetery awaits. Not an appealing destination? Oh yes it is, because you can hardly believe your eyes when you sneak past the small harbor dock and approach a cemetery on a well-trodden path, as you can hardly imagine it more beautiful. The church of St. Just dates back to the 14th century, is located directly on a bay and is surrounded by ancient graves, palm trees, magnolias and camellias. What a place for a wedding!
Chef Paul Wadham – A kitchen talk
In addition to a brilliant breakfast for hotel guests, the house also offers a lunch menu and is often fully booked for dinner in the evening. Paul Wadham and his team are correspondingly busy, and we meet for a kitchen talk.
Paul Wadham has been head chef at Tresanton since 2001. He comes from the Isle of Wight and, after a few years of wandering, settled with his family in a neighboring village to St. Mawes. Paul began his training in London in 1986. The son of a baker, he says he loved being a chef from the start. He then works in Geneva in a French-influenced kitchen brigade. Before returning to England, he learns about Italian cuisine. Actually, Paul says, he still learns by simply eating out.
Hotel owner Olga Polizzi gives him a free hand and plenty of creative freedom, which Paul Wadham appreciates. His boss’s preference for fresh dishes prepared “a la minute” is then perfectly implemented in each course of our menu.
It’s not that simple!
The food at Tresanton was advertised to us as impressively fresh, yet simple and unfussy. But Paul Wadham’s dishes are not simple. They look extremely appealing.
Even the first appetizer is an example of the kitchen’s credo. Light and fresh the burratta with Parma ham and radicchio. Sommelière Priscilla has chosen a Lustau Dry Olorosso, Don Nuno for this. A sherry completes the dish perfectly.
The starters: light and perfectly matched
The second appetizer is also a well-balanced spring greeting. Beet with rhubarb, pecorino and chicory. The beautiful composition serves all tastes and the rosé from Serafini & Vidotto in Venice supports the dish with its freshness.
The main courses: from land and water
The desserts: perfect harmony between sweet conclusion and wine accompaniment
Waking up in Hotel Tresanton
The seagulls are screeching, the sun is shining and you can hear the wind rhythmically beating the flags against the mast. Time to get up. Breakfast is waiting in the now light-flooded restaurant. If you wish, the daily newspaper is already hanging on the room door.
Have breakfast like an emperor!
This is possible in Tresanton. The breakfast buffet also focuses on freshness. Freshly squeezed juices and fruit. Homemade granola from Chef Paul Wadham, variations of nuts and good yogurt are the basis for the perfect start to the day. From the breakfast menu, guests can still order hot dishes from the kitchen.
“It’s a man’s world” – James Brown and the wild oysters.
There aren’t many men left on the Cornish coast who want to do this tough job. James Brown – that’s his real name – is an oyster fisherman. Harvesting the wild, native oysters in their natural environment using ancient fishing methods, that’s his job. James Brown’s fishing ground stretches along the steep and rugged shores of the mouth of the River Fal. Here, the salty tidal waters of the Atlantic meet the mineral-rich fresh waters of the Fals. It gives the oysters their sweet and slightly metallic taste.
The competition never sleeps
Chef Paul Wadham told us James is the prime example of his principle of freshness and proximity. We want to know where exactly the wild oysters come from that Tresanton has on the menu during oyster season, and we meet James at his 120-year-old sailboat. “Ada” has just finished the season. The catch of wild oysters is strictly regulated by law and the fishing season is between October and the end of March. Wild oysters are a specialty. Oyster fishermen like James Brown try to protect the native species. But danger looms from a Pacific invader. The large Pacific oyster is a farm-raised oyster. But over the years, quite a few have managed to escape into the open sea. As a result, they are spreading into native oyster waters as well. Because they are bigger and grow faster, Pacific oysters are displacing the “cornish wild oysters” more and more.
The work on board requires a lot of muscle power. As was the case 500 years ago, only rowboats or sailboats are used in the protected waters. The wild oysters grow on rocks, on other shellfish and on their own kind. That’s what makes harvesting so difficult. James works with a special catching basket pulled across the seabed and a diving knife. In the beginning, oysters are microscopic. Many are eaten by snails. They are not harvested until they are Grade 1, which are 60 to 80 gram oysters. Grade 2 oysters weigh up to 100 g and grade 3 over 100 g.
To reach 100 g, a wild oyster must be 4 to 5 years old. James checks each oyster with a ring. If the oyster still fits through the measure, it is too small and is thrown back into the water.
The catch is put into a 600-liter saltwater tank for two days for rinsing. Only then do the oysters go on sale. James delivers them to the Tresanton kitchen himself.
Unfortunately, the last wild oysters were eaten days before our arrival, because the oyster fishery rests from April to October. So we had to switch to the elongated Pacific oyster, which is always available. James Brown also needs an alternative until the season starts again with the big Falmouth Oyster Festival in October. During the summer months, he takes tourists out to sea. This is physically less strenuous, but can also be nerve-wracking, says James with a twinkle in his eye.
After a visit to Olga Polizzi’s Hotel Tresanton, we continue our journey towards Brittany and, after a stay at the Hotel Endsleigh, drive on to Plymouth to the ferry port of Brittany Ferries.
Click here for the report about the Hotel Endsleigh
Click here for the report about the ferry connection with Brittany Ferries
The cost of half board was not charged by the hotel