Live the dream of a castle in France

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Photo courtesy of Younan Collection

[Editor’s note: Due to the pandemic lockdown, the luxury châteaux-hotels in the Younan Collection are currently closed until early 2021. The exception is the Domaine & Golf de Vaugouard, which will remain open until December 20.]

In the late 1970s, a near penniless Zaya Younan arrived in the United States from Iran and managed to fulfill the American dream far beyond his expectations. Fast forward to 2020, Younan is a successful real estate mogul and entrepreneur, living in Los Angeles, with extensive real estate in the United States.

In 2015, Younan realized another dream but this time it was in France. Younan had always dreamed of owning an authentic French chateau and since he thinks and acts big when it comes to expanding his business empire, he acquired four chateaux, mainly in or near the valley of the Loire. Using his American work ethic of getting things done quickly and efficiently, the four castles of Younan have been renovated and transformed into luxury hotels and resorts, opening in 2018. Younan went on to create La Grande Maison Younan Collection, which focuses on European-style luxury. The lifestyle brand includes the five châteaux plus another hotel, two golf courses, a cigar company and a cellar. The motto of La Grande Maison Younan Collection is: “Everyone deserves a night in a castle”.

Below is a detailed description of the six properties of La Grande Maison Younan Collection in France.

Château le Prieuré. Photo courtesy of Younan Collection

Castle The Priory

As you go up a steep hill on a country road and arriving at Chateau Le Prieuré, the first thing you will notice is the breathtaking view of the Loire Valley and the upper river.

The history of the hotel dates back to 10e century when a sect of Benedictine monks discovered the forest lands, establishing a commune to worship in silence and nature. A Renaissance-style castle was built on the site in the 19e century by the count of Aupébin, followed by the property by the count of Castellane in the 20e century.

Now an elegant hotel, the 21 rooms are lavishly decorated with cotton and silk fabrics in shades of royal blue, dark red and mustard, floral patterned wallpaper and restored antique furniture. Some rooms have queen-size four-poster beds and others have golden headboards. The series of luxury rooms and suites, which measure between 300 and 500 square feet, feature marble bathrooms and panoramic views of the Loire.

At Restaurant Le Castellane, Executive Chef Richard Prouteau, arriving with an exceptional CV of work and teaching in some of the best catering schools across Europe, brings his culinary wisdom to updating and refining French cuisine. The dinner menu at 65 €, three courses, which changes according to the seasons, offers dishes such as mussel, chestnut and fennel soup; a can shoot prepared with local beef, carrots and onions in a curry sauce; and a tantalizing dessert of figs, an almond cookie and fennel ice cream.

Lunch and dinner are presented in the elegant dining room reminiscent of the Renaissance era with large crystal chandeliers, velvet upholstered chairs, and beautiful wood paneled walls. Before or after dinner, enjoy an aperitif or a digestif at Le Castellane lounge bar in an elegant decor of marble floors, black and gold carpeting and mahogany furniture, with a picture window overlooking the Loire.

The restaurant and bar offer Younan brand wines such as the 2014 Saint-Emilion Cru, a Bordeaux rosé and a Saint Emilion Blanc. The property also offers wooded hiking trails, a miniature golf course, and basketball and tennis courts.

Domaine de Vaugouard. Photo courtesy of Younan Collection

Domaine de Vaugouard

Just an hour from Paris and 35 minutes from Fontainebleau, Domaine de Vaugouard is an easy trip from Paris for a weekend. Former castle built in 1750 by Colonel de Salis Samad, a close friend of King Philippe, it was then inherited by his nephew, Baron Henri de Triqueti, who then gave access to the Duke of Orleans, to use it as a hunting ground .

The Domaine de Vaugouard is now a four-star hotel with amenities such as a heated outdoor swimming pool with poolside dining service, a spa and gym, a tennis court and bicycle rental. The 18-hole, 4-mile golf course, surrounded by majestic forest, features a driving range (4 tees, 8 covers), putting and pitch green, and pitch and putt.

The Les Saules restaurant, decorated in a more contemporary style, has chef Laurent Legivre, formerly of the Ritz hotel in Paris, who designs a menu focused on fresh seafood.

The main castle and two outer wings have Superior, Deluxe, and Standard rooms with bathtubs, mini-bars, flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi.

Alexandra Palace. Photo courtesy of Younan Collection

Alexandra Palace Hotel

The only five-star hotel in the Younan Collection is the Alexandra Palace, named after Younan’s daughter. The beautiful chateau, built in the 1600s, has a brick and limestone facade and is set on 160 acres of natural woodland and ponds in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region. Nearby attractions include the historic town of Poitiers, the lush marshes and streams of Niort, and the port of La Rochelle.

An 18-hole golf course sets the hotel apart as a resort. The multi-faceted golf course includes a driving range with 30 indoor stations, green putting and chipping, pitch and putt with 6 holes (over 400 yards), a pro-shop and private changing rooms.

A blend of classic French decor and luxurious contemporary design, all rooms feature Italian marble bathrooms and Lanvin toiletries and beauty products. The decadent 5,000-square-foot Presidential Suite features French antiques and furniture, an in-room sauna and steam room, and an expansive 325-foot stone patio with views of the golf course.

Dining and drinking al fresco on the terrace under white canvas umbrellas facing the lush green landscape of trees and grass when the weather permits is a delight.

Winner of the French MasterChef competition, Chef Ludovic Dumont can personalize a five-course tasting menu accompanied by assorted wines and he will meet the special requests of customers with food allergies when he invites you to dine at his chef’s table in the restaurant. The Daniels.

The intimate Cognac Room serves as a place to savor a taste of cognac and smoke a cigar from their El Septimo Premium Cigar collection.

Alexandra Palace’s spa offers wellness treatments, including hot stone massages, head massages, reflexology and facials.

Château Le Prieuré. Photo courtesy of Younan Collection

Chateau de la Perrière

15 minutes from Angers, in the heart of the Loire, is the Château de la Perrière. Listed as an official historic castle by the French government in 1983, the Château de la Perrière was built in 1699 for François II Goddes de Varennes and is considered one of the largest châteaux in Maine-et-Loire.

The property today serves as a private event space for weddings, corporate events and seminars, accommodating up to 300 people with an expansive terrace and garden.

The Avrillé golf course has 18 holes and 9 compact holes plus 45 training stations, three training bunkers, and offers group lessons for beginners on request.

The Sévigné restaurant has a large indoor dining room with a fireplace and a large outdoor terrace with chef Thierry Lejoly who elevates traditional French cuisine by infusing Vietnamese spices.

Hotel Saint-Martin. Photo courtesy of Younan Collection

Hotel Saint Martin

On a more intimate scale, the Saint Martin hotel, the smallest in the La Grande Maison Younan collection with only 13 rooms and suites. The Hotel Saint Martin, which is almost equidistant from Poitiers and La Rochelle, was at one time a resting place on the spiritual pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela which begins in France and ends in Spain.

Looking more like a manor than a castle, the Saint Martin hotel borders the Sèvre Niortaise on 100 hectares of wooded land. The comfortable rooms decorated in a palace of dark and atmospheric colors offer a calming view of the river and the garden. The original stone walls and wooden beams on the ceiling give additional charm to the duplex suite which has the feel of a chalet.

Chef Charlotte Barreteau, who grew up in the region, prepares a menu of popular French comfort food and modern and inventive dishes at Les Logis restaurant, which has a rustic but refined atmosphere with a substantial stone fireplace. There is also an outdoor terrace serving lunch and dinner with a view of the woods.

A heated outdoor swimming pool and bicycle rentals are other hotel extras.

Beauvois Castle. Photo courtesy of Younan Collection

Beauvois Castle

Located in the Loire Valley, just a 20-minute drive from Tours, is the Chateau de Beauvois, a 15th-century Renaissance chateau, which was a favorite destination for King Louis XIII when he went hunting. The Château de Beauvois, now a four-star hotel, has 35 rooms and suites decorated with satin fabrics and royal blue brocade, canvas of jouy print curtains and wallpaper, and 17th century style antiques. A bathtub and separate shower, a Nespresso coffee machine, a mini-bar and air conditioning are included in each room.

Louis XIII frequently dined at the chateau after his hunting expeditions and the current dining room is still fit for a king with a giant stone fireplace, marble floors, crystal chandeliers, and oil paintings. Using mostly local ingredients and produce, Chef Régis Guilpain creates a menu that will appeal to even the most weary palates.

The large wine cellar, 15 meters below the hotel, contains more than 50,000 bottles of international and rare wines. Private wine tastings and classes can be arranged for up to eight people.

An almost hidden stone cave with candles and oriental rugs contains the Riad Cigar Lounge, which offers top quality El Septimo cigars for cigar aficionados and liqueurs and digestives.

The Chateau de Beauvois also has tennis and basketball courts, hiking trails inside their private forest and an outdoor swimming pool.

All La Grande Maison Younan Collection establishments in France offer accommodation and services for weddings, business conferences (some hotels have seminar rooms) and corporate retreats. They can also be privatized. A catering service is available on site.

The Grande Maison Younan Collection is now developing new hotels and resorts. Malibu Foz, a resort hotel located in the seaside village of Figueira da Foz, Portugal, near Lisbon, is their first property outside of France.

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