Fit for a King

Pinnacle (Singapore) - - INDULGE -

Karen Fong dis­cov­ers how trav­ellers look­ing to dis­cover the glory of a by­gone era can now do so in ren­o­vated cas­tles, chateaus and vil­las that are open­ing their doors to guests for a truly lav­ish ex­pe­ri­ence.

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Con­sider it the Kate Mid­dle­ton ef­fect, but the al­lure of aris­toc­racy and the de­sire to ex­pe­ri­ence it has never been stronger. For ar­dent trav­ellers look­ing to live like roy­als dur­ing their lux­ury get­aways, grand cas­tles and rus­tic chateaus that have been trans­formed into re­sor ts make this pos­si­ble.

Joanne Tang, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of In­fi­nite Lux­ury, a sales and mar­ket­ing com­pany that rep­re­sents lux­ury and unique hos­pi­tal­ity clients, says: “We of­ten find that these prop­er­ties date back many years. In ad­di­tion to the many sto­ries that come with these places, the his­tory also con­trib­utes to the property’s unique­ness and charm.”

Cas­tles or chateaus also tend to be smaller-run op­er­a­tions, and the warm, fa­mil­ial ser­vice pro­vided adds to their old-world ap­peal, says Clive Cum­mings, whose fam­ily owns the Ab­baye de la Bus­sière in France.

Here are some of the most renowned re­treats around the world where one can travel to for a true taste of grandeur and royalty.

Me­dieval: Ash­ford Cas­tle, Ire­land First built in 1228, this cas­tle in Mayo was the prin­ci­pal strong­hold of the An­glo-Nor­man de Burgo fam­ily, who de­feated the na­tive O’Con­nors of Con­naught. Af­ter chang­ing hands a num­ber of times, the cas­tle came un­der the own­er­ship of Lord and Lady Ardi­laun in the 19th century. It was bought by Noel Huggard in 1939, when it be­gan its trans­for­ma­tion into a lux­ury ho­tel.

Beau­ti­fully re­stored, the cas­tle to­day fea­tures mas­ter­fully crafted Ro­coco gilt mir­rors and Water­ford chan­de­liers. It still re­tains its in­ti­mate and cosy cor­ners, which pro­vide am­ple pri­vate spa­ces for guests. Lady Ardi­laun’s Wood­land Walk gar­dens have also been re­ju­ve­nated with over a hun­dred ma­jes­tic oak, beech and chest­nut trees.

Fa­mous per­son­al­i­ties who have graced the cas­tle grounds in­clude Princess Grace of Monaco, for­mer Prime Min­is­ter of the United King­dom Tony Blair, and celebri­ties like Rus­sell Crowe and Bar­bara Streisand.

Cather­ine Kenny, Room Di­vi­sions Man­ager at Ash­ford, be­lieves the over­all at­mos­phere of the cas­tle is the se­cret to its ap­peal. She says: “One may have trav­elled the world, but the set­ting of the cas­tle and the beauty of the lake is ab­so­lutely breath­tak­ing. Guests en­joy be­ing out­doors in the fresh air.The es­tate is very large, and fal­conry, clay pigeon shoot­ing and archery are some of the favourite guest ac­tiv­i­ties.”

Mayo is also known for its ex­cel­lent fish­ing wa­ters, scenic hikes, as well as some of the most in­ter­est­ing ar­chae­o­log­i­cal and his­tor­i­cal sites in Ire­land.

Clas­si­cally Bri­tish: Good­wood Es­tate, Eng­land Its story goes back to 1697, when the first Duke of Richmond (son of King Charles II) and his French mis­tress, Louise de Ker­oualle, bought Good­wood House to be their hunt­ing lodge away from Lon­don.The third Duke of Richmond later ex­tended Good­wood House, with an ex­ten­sive plan to cre­ate an oc­tagon-shaped res­i­dence, but he ran out of funds and never com­pleted the project. He did, how­ever, com­mis­sion the out­stand­ing or­angery, sta­bles, as well as The Ken­nels, which orig­i­nally housed the duke’s hounds. To­day, Good­wood Es­tate is home to Rolls-Royce Mo­tor Cars’ man­u­fac­tur­ing plant and global head­quar­ters, as well as a num­ber of sport­ing clubs.

In the heart of the es­tate is the Good­wood Ho­tel, which fea­tures a his­toric 18th century sec­tion where guests can ex­pe­ri­ence the Char­ac­ter rooms, dec­o­rated with a blend of Bri­tish

moder­nity and her­itage, com­plete with four-poster beds and el­e­gant fur­nish­ings.The es­tate also of­fers two ex­cel­lent golf cour­ses, a his­toric mo­tor­ing cir­cuit, and one of the world’s most beau­ti­ful race­courses. Strolling the grounds, guests can visit Good­wood House, the an­ces­tral home of the Dukes of Richmond and Gor­don that has had its orig­i­nal re­gency and splen­dour re­vived. It houses an ex­cel­lent art collection, in­clud­ing sport­ing scenes by Ge­orge Stubbs and 18th century Lon­don cityscapes by Canaletto.

Per­sonal touch: Ab­baye de La Bus­sière, France Set in six hectares of el­e­gant park­land, it was first founded in 1131 by an English­man, Stephen Hard­ing, who was the third Ab­bot of Cîteaux.

The name “La Bus­sière” comes from the Latin word Bux­e­ria, which means “a place cov­ered in box trees”. The monks of the Cis­ter­cian Or­der, who pre­vi­ously in­hab­ited the abbey, in­fused it with a deep tra­di­tion of hu­mil­ity, tran­quil­lity, peace and hos­pi­tal­ity – ideals that still re­main to­day. The abbey is cur­rently owned by Joy and Martin Cum­mings, and man­aged by their son, Clive, and his wife.

The Ab­baye is lo­cated in the Val­ley Ouche by the canal de Bour­gogne, just 30 min­utes from Di­jon. It fea­tures nine build­ings, in­clud­ing a 15th century wine press and cel­lar, and a con­se­crated crypt. In­side, it has a tra­di­tion­ally French decor, and each room of­fers stun­ning views of the park and lake. An­tique fur­ni­ture hold pride of place, and all fabrics are selected to match the au­then­tic fin­ish­ings and de­sign. “We have a care­ful bal­ance of main­tain­ing the his­tory, spirit and am­bi­ence, while cre­at­ing a com­fort­able lux­ury ho­tel. We have many more years of ren­o­va­tion, main­te­nance and projects to keep us oc­cu­pied,” says Cum­mings.

Fash­ion­able glam­our: Villa le Rose, Italy This place boasts a glam­orous fac­tor to it, as it was fur­nished by Leonardo and Beatrice Fer­rag­amo of the famed Ital­ian fash­ion brand. It was ini­tially a Medici Villa com­mis­sioned by the March­ese Nic­colò Anti­nori in the 15th century, and re­mained in the fam­ily’s pos­ses­sion un­til it was bought by the Fer­rag­amos in the 1980s. Orig­i­nally a labour of love, the restora­tion was done with the in­ten­tion to trans­form the villa into a fam­ily home. How­ever, the pri­vate es­tate was even­tu­ally turned into a mod­ern aris­to­cratic guest house.

“Guests can ex­pect the glam­our, crafts­man­ship and top-notch qual­ity that the fash­ion house is known for. Apart from that, there are also more per­sonal el­e­ments and de­tails,” says In­fi­nite Lux­ury’s Tang, whose com­pany han­dles the property.

Sit­u­ated in the hills of Firenze Cer tosa, the area is the en­trance to the Chi­anti re­gion and sits at the end of a great drive­way of an­cient cy­press trees in the vil­lage of Tavar­nuzze.The villa gives guests the op­por­tu­nity to live like a 16th century aris­to­crat, while mod­ern com­forts such as chef and but­ler ser­vices, and a li­mou­sine chauf­feur ac­cen­tu­ate the lux­ury ex­pe­ri­ence.

The villa can be rented out for exclusive use and can ac­com­mo­date up to 12 adults and two chil­dren. Out­side the manor, guests can visit the Cedar Gar­den, a sweep­ing lawn with tall hedges and an­cient trees, in­clud­ing a 300-year-old Le­banon cedar from which the gar­den takes its name.

01 The ma­jes­tic aura of the Ash­ford Cas­tle will make for an un­for­get­table lux­ury hol­i­day ex­pe­ri­ence. 02 The in­te­ri­ors of the Ville le Rose are a per­fect blend of lux­ury, moder­nity and el­e­gance. 03 The Re­gency Ball­room in the Good­wood Es­tate of­fers trav­ellers a cosy can­dlelit din­ner ex­pe­ri­ence.

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