There are many female names in their team: Anna, Hélène, Suzanne and Pascale. And then, there is Désirée! Mathilde Bignon and Audrey...
The clichés are enough to set you dreaming. One of the most ambitious hotel projects of recent years can be glimpsed beneath these Mediterranean-style wooden structures. Fifteen huts located in the heart of the vineyards of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, around – and on – the turquoise waters of Lac de la Lionne. At the helm of this experiential and alternative tourism offer, two men separated by six years: Gaspard de Moustier and Emmanuel de La Bédoyère. The Domaine des Grands Cépages is their third joint project. Bearing the Coucoo stamp – from the name of their group – the experience is about reconnecting while at the same time becoming part of the environment. To introduce customers to these exceptional places under the best possible conditions, the duo strove to push the notion of “valorisation” to its very limits. Nature, of course! Pampered then prepared by local producers, guarantors of the very fine gourmet offer of the Domaine des Grands Cépages. As for the integration of accommodation in the landscape, it has been carefully thought out to satisfy the imperatives of eco-tourism. A virtuous circle in which one would love to participate, with family or friends!
Domaine des Grands Cépages, 2061 chemin des Pompes – 84700 Sorgues
Gaspard, Emmanuel, who are you? Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your background?
I grew up in Franche-Comté where, after studying Finance in Paris, I opened our first Coucoo Great Lakes eco-domain on land belonging to the family. I wanted to promote this destination by offering a new kind of stay and an authentic experience in cabins perched high in the treetops. The first tree houses were built in 2009 with the utmost respect for the environment. This is how the eco-domain with cabins came into being and became a pioneer for a new, responsible form of tourism.
With Gaspard, we met in 2012. I had just left the investment banking business for the land, on a family farm. Driven by our shared passion for nature and our taste for challenges and entrepreneurship, in 2015 we teamed up to establish a second eco-domain, in the heart of the golf course at Château de Raray, in Picardy: Coucoo Grands Chênes. Since then, we have invested 2 other magnificent sites, still in Franche-Comté, but at the Swiss border this time with Coucoo Grands Reflets (2016) and in the heart of the vineyards of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape region in Sorgues with Coucoo Grands Vépages (2017).
What is the concept behind the cabins for you? What was the trigger for this project?
The Coucoo experience is above all the opportunity to reconnect with those who count, with each other, with the family, and with oneself too. At the heart of each of the eco-domains, all very different, the notion of time is completely lost. We wanted to develop an experiential and alternative tourist offer located in exceptional natural areas and composed of accommodation wholly integrated into its environment.
The goal was also to promote the discovery of natural sites while respecting four values which are dear to us: amazement and customer satisfaction, which is our primary source of motivation and pushes us to surpass ourselves in the creation of our eco-domains. The development of the area and local craftsmen with, notably, the discovery of local products in our breakfast and dinner baskets. Technological and ecological innovation with, for example, the development of our Ultra Bio Ozone Nordic baths and the first autonomous floating hut with Grands Cépages. And finally respect for the environment with the meticulous integration of our accommodation into nature, waste sorting, energy saving, etc..
How do you choose your sites?
There are two critical considerations: the natural quality of the site and its size, which must be large enough to allow the construction of about twenty cabins while respecting the privacy of each. We choose places with character and which are often structured around large bodies of water offering a magnificent view and a beautiful natural panorama.
Beyond the site itself, our promise is also to help our customers discover the surrounding area and the people who live there. We achieve this in particular by offering local and artisanal products in our breakfast and dinner baskets and in our shops, but also through the various activities on offer around our eco-domains.
Why did you choose the architect Marco Lavit? What do you like about his work?
We chose him for his youth and talent. He had no preconceived idea about wooden constructions and even less about cabins. He totally revisited the concept of cabins based on simple bird’s nest designs.
He started from a blank page and created custom cabins adapted to the local architecture. He also brought a real design touch to the Origin cabin at Grands Chênes and the fifteen cabanes des Grands Cépages.
How would you like to develop the concept in the future? Abroad too, perhaps?
We do not want to multiply the number of eco-domains but always to select incredible places so that each site is a little jewel. We intend to create a strong brand with Coucoo and, for that, we must respect our specifications of a truly natural site with a large footprint to honour our promise of immersion and disconnection in the heart of nature.
Photography: Constance Gennari – Text: Caroline Balvay – Translation: TextMaster @thesocialitefamily