Ilse Crawford works on French woodland spa

Ilse Crawford’s consultancy Studioilse is creating a woodland spa near the Loire region of France.

Property developer Parkview International appointed Studioilse in autumn last year.

’We had taken a few UK and French designers round the site and listened to their ideas, but chose [Crawford] because of her holistic approach to design and the way that it looks, smells and feels,’ says Parkview vicepresident Vicky Hwang.

The spa’s 56ha site in Loiret features an extensive forest, a listed medieval tower, a 19th century chateau and what is claimed to be the first orangery in France, built around 1560.

Studioilse will renovate the chateau with the help of Parisbased architect H20, which Crawford sourced and brought on to the project.

Although plans are still being finalised prior to the submission for planning permission, they are likely to include the creation of a 30- to 40- room hotel in the chateau and its outbuildings.

Studioilse will creatively oversee the design of a new building to accommodate the spa facilities.

Besides this, Crawford imagines that individual saunas and bathhouses could be planted in the woodland, offering secluded hideaways for guests.

The look and feel of the spa would, Hwang says, be inspired by the woodland. ’We would use a lot of natural materials like wood and stone,’ she says.

This also applies to the branding, which Crawford and Hwang will start to consider once the planning application has been submitted, probably in April.

Crawford is unsure whether Studioilse will handle the branding element, or bring in another consultancy.

The spa’s target market will be both French and international tourists, with the spa lying just 144km from French capital Paris.

’We are not aiming this at glorious couples, as many spas are, but at inter-generational mixed groups and families,’ says Crawford.

’We want to make it a really interesting destination, offering people alternative things to do, rather than just dining out together’.

In this vein, the spa could include an outdoor cinema and other entertainment such as dancers.

TIMELINE FOR A WOODLAND SPA

September 2008 – Parkview International buys Château de Coligny estate, after setting up a French company for the purpose
October 2009 – Parkview appoints Studioilse to art-direct the spa
c.April 2010 – planning permission to be submitted to develop a spa on the estate
Spring/summer 2010 – branding to be considered, perhaps with appointment of branding group
2012 – spa scheduled to open

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