Make Your Chateau the Destination Everyone’s Talking About
If you own a chateau tucked away in the French countryside, its privacy is probably one of the things you love most about it. But if your desire is to make it a destination for
visitors to the region, the privacy becomes an obstacle to overcome. Here are a few ways to turn your secluded chateau into a tourist destination, on your own terms.
Make it a site for destination weddings
One of the easiest ways you can bring visibility to your chateau is by renting it out for destination weddings. Begin by looking at your property through the eyes of a wedding planner: where could a lot of chairs be set up for the guests? What about a tent and dance floor, for the reception? Is your kitchen equipped to cook a large meal? Then get to know the area’s chefs and caterers, bands and DJs, and equipment rental professionals so you can make recommendations to couples who want to tie the knot at your chateau.
Turn it into a bed & breakfast
Many honeymooners and vacationers want to get the true feel of the French countryside by staying in a small, family owned and operated bed & breakfast rather than in a larger inn or hotel. If you’ve never owned a bed & breakfast, stay a few nights at places in the area that you’d like to model your space after. Make notes of what you liked and didn’t like. Then, add some touches to your chateau that make it stand out from the other charming spots around. Consider installing a pool and hot tub, or hiring an exceptional chef (or maybe you’re a great cook yourself). The important thing is to get creative. Always remember that visitors will flock to an inn that is exceptionally clean and offers attentive service.
Turn it into a vacation rental
If you have a second home or travel frequently, why not make your chateau available for vacation rental when you’re out of town? Vacation rentals are becoming more and more common, thanks to sites like Airbnb and VRBO. All you have to do is list your fully-furnished chateau and let the site do the booking work. This is a great option if you can’t dedicate the time it takes to run a bed & breakfast.
Offer cooking classes
Everyone wants to go to France to learn to cook. Bring in a talented, charismatic chef who makes simple, seasonal, and delicious food to teach a cooking class several nights each week. Craft an evening for your guests that you would like to attend: good wine, good music, a small enough group that the guests can get to know one another and make some lasting friendships. The guests cook the meal, enjoy the meal, and get to take home a cookbook and perhaps a set of French tea towels or a classic wooden spoon. Bon appétit!
Present it as a vineyard house
If your property includes a vineyard or brewery, it’s simple to incorporate tours and tastings into your operation’s regular workings. People are fascinated by the way wine and beer is made, so give them a look into your facilities, explain your process, and offer tastings with excellent food pairings. This offers the perfect opportunity to sell a few bottles as well—who doesn’t love to bring home a bottle of wine from a vineyard they’ve actually seen?
Promote its history
Your chateau’s exciting past can be a draw in itself. Do your homework and find out who the original architects and commissioners were, as well as all previous owners and their historical significance. Learn what the property was used for in the past: farming, vineyard, hunting lodge, aristocratic home, etc. Whether your property was the site of a large battle or an event of only local notoriety, you can offer tours that highlight your chateau’s story. You can even offer haunted tours and vineyard and brewery tours that incorporate the property’s history.
Whichever route you decide to take to transform your chateau into a tourist destination, it will help you to create a website that highlights the chateau’s best features and amenities, and lists what it has to offer to visitors. Then promote it through social media and on local listings for attractions and accommodations. Once a few people visit your fabulous new destination, word will travel. Soon you’ll be saying, “We’re booked, but I’m happy to put you on the waiting list!”
Author Bio: Sara Collins is a writer for NerdWallet. She works to keep readers informed about homeownership topics like mortgage insurance rates.