I recently discovered a “hidden gem”: an amazing five-carat luxury hotel restaurant in a medieval village, with magnificent views to match. If that’s not enough, the building dates from the 13th century and exudes history and art, keeping its heritage evident amidst the upscale decor.
I wanted to know more about this beauty and recently interviewed the General Manager, Frida, a friendly Swedish woman who first came to Nice at age 19 and was “taken with France.” With a background in the hotel and restaurant business, in both Sweden and Nice, in an events business in the U.K., and having an International Business degree from the U.K., Frida is well equipped to run this luxury hotel and restaurant, ”Château Le Cagnard.” Now fully renovated to a high standard, the reputable hotel re-opened in October, 2012.
24/7: Obviously history and art have a major influence on the hotel – how has this aspect been preserved during the renovation?
LC: The hotel has been updated and refreshed to maintain its romance and charm, as well as to enhance the artistic aspects, such as the “Salle des Gardes” – the dining area where knights once dined – with its unique elephant frescoes painted in 1928 by Emile Wéry that I restored. Instead of room numbers, our 26 suites and rooms are now named after a local artist, to add a touch of personal artistic romance with a trompe l’oeil, not to mention the 200 hand-painted roof panels in the restaurant with the ceiling that opens up to the Mediterranean sky.
24/7: What in particular attracts your clientele to your hotel in this small, medieval village?
LC: I think it’s the hotel’s uniqueness, attention to details, and its charm, with an overall concept of being a great get-away, but yet centrally located to Nice. We also have a lot of activities at the hotel: language courses, wine and champagne tastings, cooking school (all by request, for the moment) to provide guests with a chance to experience France in one location. We are open seven days a week, all year round too.
24/7: What nationalities have you welcomed into your hotel?
LC: Our clientele, due to our hotel’s long established reputation, are multi-national, coming from Mexico, Canada, Japan, Germany, U.S., and the U.K. Since there is a large Scandinavian sector who live in the village, they generally frequent the restaurant.
24/7: How do you decide on special promotions and publicity campaigns?
LC: I collaborate with the chef, Stéphane, for what would attract foreigners because we are selling a unique experience and feel for our clients, in keeping our high standards of excellence. Yes, the three-night stay for the price of two, and market shopping with the chef with the meal then served on the terrace, has proved to be popular promotional package and is a perfect gift idea too.
24/7: Do you distribute guest surveys?
LC: Yes, we provide a paper format and have a reception area guest book, as well as social media sites for guests to provide comments.
Frida then gave me a personal tour, showing me a couple rooms and suites – the overall beauty of the antique decor juxtaposing the modern amenities, with each room having a French-style trompe l’oeil wall painting left me virtually speechless (good that this part took place after the interview!) — self explanatory when you see the below photos.
(All photos provided by Le Cagnard, except for the first four)