In the late 1990s, Dietmar Hopp discovered the Terre Blanche site. He instantly fell in love with it even though it was little more than a wilderness at the time, with a few sad remnants of a long-abandoned project. Yet passionate golfer Dietmar wasn’t interested in what hadn’t worked in the past but rather what could be achieved in the immense space before him. He had the feeling that his dreams were just at his fingertips, and that he would stick at it come what may.
Terre Blanche’s story is one of a site designed to live up to its maker’s passion and to let him share it with others too, but without ever threatening nature’s fragile equilibrium. It is a site built with a sense of harmony and in close cooperation with the region’s economic stakeholders and tourism industry.
Terre Blanche was built on 300 hectares of wild countryside, where, rather than dominating, it co-exists with nature. Everything has been done to preserve the area’s original plant life and guarantee that the construction blends seamlessly into the surrounding landscapes of Pays de Fayence.
This ecological project owes its success primarily to its use of an environmentally friendly methodology in everything from technology to construction materials. But it has also been an economic success, as it has created hundreds of jobs - and that is before we even consider the local businesses with which the resort has worked hand in hand since the very first foundations were laid.
When the operation started, a set of Functional Worksite Limitation Specifications were drawn up. It defined how each stage in the construction process would be organised and what resources it would use so as to preserve the natural environment and reduce the impact of any kind of building work. Two notable requirements were the use of pollutant-free materials that can be carried by hand and environmentally friendly logistical solutions.
Natural materials such as stone, terracotta and mineral wool were used to build the hotel.
Earth excavated to landscape the site so it would be ready to build on was recycled at Terre Blanche or reused as a sublayer for roads, embankments and substrate.
The hotel’s technological links were channelled underneath golf buggy tracks to avoid disturbing plant life. This means that our old oak trees and woodland vegetation were left intact. Not a single building is higher than the trees and the resort is fully embedded within the landscape, existing in total harmony with nature.
To support the region’s economic development, Terre Blanche chose to work with local building companies.
It has been clear right from the earliest design phases that Terre Blanche could only exist thanks to the natural world, and that nature had to continue flourishing there. The concept of coexistence was born out of this interdependent relationship, guaranteeing both that the environment could exist freely and that the teeming wealth of natural life it shelters would be protected. Investing in protection for our natural environment is quite simply a way of securing our future.
Protective measures and monitoring of any environmental impacts resulting from construction and use of the site were in place from the moment Terre Blanche was created. On the recommendation of the Regional Department for Agriculture and Woodland, the flora and fauna impact assignment was handed to the engineers at Escape Environnement, while the water impact assignment was given to Eau et Perspectives, this time on the recommendation of the Regional Department for Water Protection and Woodland.
The results of these environmental surveys have been extremely positive, and 12 years after Terre Blanche opened, anyone who takes a moment to marvel at the ecological balance on show will see that the resort is an exceptional reserve for wildlife and plant life. The site’s positive ecological impact is characteristic of Terre Blanche’s commitment to the environment.
St Cassien Lake is an outstanding wildlife reserve just a few miles from the resort. It has become the flightpath of many migratory and non-migratory birds, including the mallards and waders of various kinds who are now regulars at Terre Blanche. Every year these birds cause Terre Blanche’s lakes and waterfalls to be naturally populated with fresh water fish spawn. Visitors can now observe dozens of species of ducks, pheasants and swans strutting along the pathways, spot hares in the undergrowth and even meet the five donkeys who have become Terre Blanche’s mascots. These characters are adored by children, who visit them during picnics organised by the Royaume des Enfants club.
Terre Blanche also has beehives hidden out of sight and the resort produces its own honey. Once it has been lovingly packaged, this unique nectar is served to guests at breakfast, and it is also on sale in the hotel’s boutique.
At Terre Blanche all these creatures have found a haven, a protective environment and a great place for them to bring up their young.
Terre Blanche extends over 300 hectares, most of which are covered with woodland and undergrowth, where rare and unique species are to be found. This is certainly the case around the Château Bouge where you will spot conifers planted in the late 19th century but also Lebanon cedars and incense cedars from the Rocky Mountains in California. There are also various types of cypress trees, including Greek cypresses with their outsized, sparse branches, the California cypress and yellow cypresses all the way from the Canadian Rockies. Also not to be missed are the spectacular sequoias of North America, an exotic species of resinous trees.
Terre Blanche has prioritised a win-win strategy when it comes to clearing the undergrowth by using its drove of five donkeys. This rational, ecological method of clearing helps to maintain wild species, protect against wildfires and preserve habitats. You won’t find any neatly cut grass around the golf courses, as we have opted to leave nature as it is in the wild, whether grassland, undergrowth or woodland. This means we have to mow less space, so we can protect more flora and fauna and encourage botanical biodiversity.
A scented allotment tucked away between the suites and villas has more than 15 aromatic plants used by chef Philippe Jourdin. It is also a good way to raise awareness of seasonal produce, something which supermarkets and globalisation have drawn our attention away from.
Working with the seasons is the first step towards meeting our ecological responsibilities and being environmentally friendly.
Terre Blanche has designed special software especially for the resort so that it can manage its natural water resources and drinking water consumption. As a result, it can detect any incidents affecting its network almost instantly, allowing it to reduce the amount of water wasted through leaks.
To water its grounds, the resort uses non-purified water from the Verdon Canal to reduce the burden on fragile local resources and guarantee that the phreatic zone and watercourses are left less tapped. The lakes created at Terre Blanche provide all the decantation and storage reservoirs needed to water the golf courses, once they have been brought to temperature.
In creating our two golf courses architect Dave Thomas has preserved the existing landscape and plant life on this magnificent site, from its valleys to its lakes, ravines, waterfalls and woodland. The courses have been designed to suit the rules of play and guarantee the fairways have the right look, but they have also been fashioned to collect as much water as possible via artificial talwegs. In terms of infrastructure, drains have been positioned to channel rain and excess gardening water into the ravines and lakes.
A 5000 m3 floodwater reservoir has also been created beneath the Albatros Golf Performance Center to collect rainwater.
Hydrocarbon separators are used across the surface runoff collection network to flag up any potential pollution, thereby guaranteeing that only quality water is allowed back into nature.
Our forest fire protection has been strengthen thanks to the ADELIE warning system, which has been designed to pick up traces of smoke in the environment and therefore detect fires in their earliest stages. A video surveillance system installed at vantage points or existing watchtowers constantly scans vulnerable areas over 360° and to a distance of 25km.
So that we can optimally manage our energy consumption, we are systematically renovating our equipment with the aim of removing anything which is deemed wasteful. Of particular note here are:
Terre Blanche has always recycled its household waste and has a special department for collecting it from around the site.
Each property has a bin area with waste containers which allow waste to be sorted. Special household waste can be taken to a centralised collection area near the Poste Terre Blanche, where outsourced municipal waste removal services are available.
As for garden waste, our golf courses are maintained using a specially adapted mowing cycle which lets us keep our cut grass and use it as extra food for plants. Any excavated earth is collected and spread along the undergrowth at the fairways’ edge, thereby helping to fertilise plant life and avoid any recourse to landfill.
…And living in harmony with it
The design of the Terre Blanche hotel was inspired by the medieval villages which overlook it high up on the hills. Its suites and villas are genuine oases of peace and calm dotted around a gloriously abundant natural environment. Each has its own private terrace and exceptional views over the lush, green surroundings. Here, everyone can rediscover their natural balance in total privacy and enjoy all the beauty and tranquillity of the landscape.
You can get around on foot or by golf buggy, which means that there is no noise or air pollution and you can live in total harmony with nature.
Nature is everywhere in the spa. You will find it in the massage oils inspired by the fragrances of the Mediterranean and Provence which perfume the air with the scents of lavender and thyme, topped off with citrus notes. You will also enjoy the natural quality our body wraps and our infusions homemade using herbs from our garden.
Our Jardin des Senteurs (Garden of Scents) was opened in 2015 and grows more than 15 aromatic plants used by chef Philippe Jourdin. It is also a space where our customers can simply wander, discovering nature and even more local plant life.
Hidden away from view, our beehives are home to hundreds of bees busying away to make Miel de Terre Blanche, Terre Blanche’s very own honey, which guests can try at breakfast or buy in the hotel boutique. Our beekeeper helps us to organise workshops with the Royaume des Enfants children’s club, where youngsters can learn about the vital role of bees in the food chain, how honey is made and which products it is used in.
Our customers can buy 100% organic products at breakfast – that means our eggs, dried fruit and cereals – and in our Le Tousco summer restaurant, where diners can make their own salads from our buffet.
Wine lovers will be no less thrilled, as our head sommelier also puts mostly organic and biodynamic wines on the wine list.
And last but not least, eco-friendly cleaning products are always preferred over standard products.
Guests are offered an activities guide, which you can use to explore the canton of Fayence and Estérel. You will discover medieval villages perched high on the hills, local markets, local olive oil and wine producers, the history of perfume-making and much more besides. Walks and bike rides from Terre Blanche are also ideal ways of immersing oneself in local life.
Our youngest customers can join in the nature discovery activities at the Royaume des Enfants, including visits to see the animals and plants of Terre Blanche, picnics, bee workshops to learn about these vital insects’ role in our ecosystem, and plenty more besides.
Our catering team always aims to offer customers homemade food. Our bakers get up in the early hours to prepare bread and pastries, kneading them, leaving them to rise and then baking them all before you are woken by the sun… The chef uses local or French produce whenever possible. The sprigs of lavender you see sprinkled on your tables and plates come from our gardens.
Terre Blanche has a policy of prioritising local partners and the region’s economic players.
For one term of each academic year, the pros from the David Leadbetter Golf Academy host golf lessons for local primary school children, giving them the chance to discover a sport which is too often dogged by an elitist image.
Our Programme du Canton also lets Fayence residents play on the Château course at reduced rates all year round.
Most of the staff employed by Terre Blanche live in the canton of Fayence or surrounding towns and cities such as Nice, Cannes, Mandelieu, Saint Raphael and Fréjus. The Resort employs 300 permanent staff and 450 in high season.
Just as it is for its own sports clubs, Terre Blanche is a keen supporter of the development of local clubs, with the Club de Rugby du Pays de Fayence getting the benefits which come with our backing.
After it was built by Dietmar Hopp in 2012, the stadium near the northern entrance to the resort was gifted to the local authority. Various sports clubs – often rugby and athletics – and local schools regularly use it as their training ground.