In 1985 Chateau Elan Winery and Resort was created in Braselton, Georgia, becoming the first winery in the region since prohibition. Wheelock saw the potential in this 3,500-acre resort, which proved out when the newly renovated Chateau Elan opened in 2020. The renovation included every component of the resort, including 252 guestrooms and 25 suites and four food and beverage outlets, with a total cost of over $25 million.
The largest challenge was how to take a series of very disparate components of the resort, built at different times and in very different conditions and bring them up to a consistent quality both from an operational and a design standpoint. Very little was left untouched. The exterior was enhanced by a new colour scheme, windows and limestone rock work, with the addition of a new hardscaped café surrounded by boxwoods, under a canopy of manicured trees. The lobby was redesigned to make it more comfortable and intuitive to guests. Guests enter to a living room setting with a café that opens to the exterior at one end, with the front desk reception at the other end, while maintaining views to the atrium beyond. The space was reimagined with wood panelling painted in white, limestone floors, gold leafed ceilings, a new fireplace with custom furnishings as well a large commission by well-known local artist Tom Swanston.
Planning was key in the design’s success. BLUR Workshop worked hard to understand the owner’s goals, the operators needs to perform and the chef’s culinary aspirations to guide the guest experience. They crafted a design narrative which became the new story of the hotel which informed all design decisions. This narrative created a new luxury hotel, one that is distinctly Southern drawing on the local and regional influences with an understated sophistication. The design of this hotel was not just one of repositioning but also reintroducing it as a pilar in the community, where the adjacent neighbourhoods and surrounding community were just as important as visiting guests.
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