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Johan Bouman
Unplanned Perfection

Design, Destinations

001 Johan Bouman
  • Words Ken Baron
  • Images Stephanie Füssenich

Following his heart and not a script, this Dutch businessman-turned-hotelier has slowly but magically transformed his dream home into a wondrous countryside escape.

002 Chateau De La Resle Building
003 Chateau De La Resle Dogs

One can be excused for thinking that Johan Bouman has mapped out his life years in advance. How else to explain the international business degree that led seamlessly to a career in the food industry, which saw him purchase the company he worked for and relocate it for a time to a centuries-old château in France’s Chablis wine region. There, he ramped up the business while renovating the property, transforming it into a showcase home—one that the art collector and outdoorsman understood was a place not to be privately consumed but publically shared by those who would adore it as he does.

004 Chateau De La Resle Johan Bouman

“The minute you try to please everyone you’re lost. So I target those who appreciate the château for exactly what it is.”

Johan Bouman

The château is awash in wonderful contemporary and abstract art. How did this collection come to pass?

The art world is one that I am closely connected to. Just as I renovated the château section by section, I discovered all the artwork over many years, and not in one grand swoop. I didn’t buy art to decorate a hotel. I bought pieces that spoke to me and that work together when combined. The art has to work with the architecture and the architecture has to work with the art. They feed off each other and make each other stronger. The point is not to collect by a theme or a single look, but by what brings the most out of the château, which heightens the guest’s experience. Pulling this off correctly is the challenge. And the fun. It all happened organically. I had no master plan. Believe me!

005 Chateau De La Resle Fireplace
006 Chateau De La Resle Interior Art
007 Chateau De La Resle Bench Sculpture

Do you have a philosophy that goes into being a hotelier?

It helps if you can exist in two worlds within the confines of one space.

I live at the château too, after all, and I open my private home to guests who get a very personal, intimate experience but who also get the benefit of hotel facilities, even if we don’t have 24-hour reception or a day and night bar like many hotels.

The people who come back again and again prefer this kind of personal experience. Whether it’s the art, the building, the grounds, or the silence that brings them back, it doesn’t matter—it’s that they feel a special connection. The minute you try to please everyone, you are lost. So I target those who appreciate the château for exactly what it is, just as I do.

008 Chateau De La Resle Garden
009 Chateau De La Resle Bug Sculpture

You sell your own wine now, too?

Again, not planned! A famous Dutch designer did the chef’s kitchen by the pool. It seemed such a waste not to fill it with bespoke pieces. I hired designers, so now I promote my own design line. One such piece—a candleholder—fits onto an empty wine bottle. But I realized that it shouldn’t showcase just any wine, but the château’s. Thus, I started producing wine and CDLR was born! That’s really how things happen here—one thing leads to another. And each thing brings out a creative impulse that one couldn’t plan for ahead of time. It keeps you alive!

010 Chateau De La Resle Fireplace Sculpture
011 Chateau De La Resle Vineyard
012 Chateau De La Resle Tools

Featured Hotels

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Chateau de la Resle

France, Montigny la Resle, Burgundy

Featured Hotels

ChateauDeLaResle-Burgundy-France-T.jpg

Chateau de la Resle

France, Montigny la Resle, Burgundy
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