Chateau Elan celebrated the completion of a $25 million renovation Tuesday, showcasing new elements of modern design for the 16th century French-inspired resort and winery.
“This is the place to be in northeast Georgia,” said Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Chateau Elan has sat on 3,500 acres of land in Braselton for more than 35 years, originating as a winery and then expanding into a luxury resort with golf and a spa. Anyone can take advantage of the dining and amenities whether or not they’re staying in one of the 275 guest rooms. The resort also welcomes visitors for tastings of the estate-grown wine.
Chateau Elan began the renovation in April 2019, more than a year after it was acquired by real estate investment firm Wheelock Street Capital. Adding only one guest room, the project was focused on bringing the already luxe destination to contemporary style and amenity standards that high-end guests expect, said Keith Manning, vice president of asset management for Wheelock Street Capital.
For longtime guests seeing the updated resort for the first time, there will be a lot of new details to take in.
“I would hope that there’s nothing they wouldn’t notice,” Manning said in an interview with the AJC.
The changes range from small — light music playing constantly both indoors and outside — to large, with restaurants overhauled and guest rooms redesigned, Manning said.
The chateau’s design has been mostly unchanged since the winery’s founding in 1984, based on 16th century French style, Neville Erasmus, Chateau Elan’s general manager, told the AJC. The exterior has retained its original look; the bulk of the work was done inside.
The bright white lobby, with windowed ceilings and marble floors, now features a hand-blown chandelier designed to mimic the topography of the winery. The vineyard’s rolling hills are a recurring motif in the design, also inspiring a wooden sculpture hanging over the lobby bar, said designer Foreman Rogers. About 80% of the new furnishings and decor were sourced from Georgia, Rogers said, including new carpeting from Dalton and art created by Atlanta artists.
Four new bars and restaurants were added to the resort, including a wine and coffee bar in the lobby and Marc Bar and Restaurant in the winery overlooking the vineyard. Louis’ House of Bourbon — formerly L’Auberge Lounge — has been redesigned with a hunting club aesthetic: dark green walls, leather furniture and regal oil paintings. The new aesthetic also comes with a new concept: sports bar meets speakeasy with a long bourbon list.
The amenities are not just intended for guests; Erasmus and Manning hope that locals will drop in for a a bite to eat, a drink with friends or to relax in the lobby while utilizing Chateau Elan’s electric vehicle chargers.
The resort is a “driving economic force” in Braselton, said Councilwoman Peggy Slappey. It’s the largest employer, with more than 300 workers, and the largest taxpayer in the city, Manning said. The city was optimistic about the resort’s future when Wheelock Street Capital took over in 2018, and the firm did not disappoint, Slappey said.
“We could not imagine how you could improve on something already so wonderful. You have exceeded every expectation,” Slappey said. “Thank you for your confidence in our town.”
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