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Peek inside Chateau Elan resort & winery to see the renovation that’s almost complete
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Chateau Elan is nearing completion of its $25 million renovation, which includes an updated exterior. - photo by Scott Rogers

Ornate fireplaces and modern light fixtures are just one of the many touches now in place in the mostly redone Chateau Elan Winery & Resort in Braselton.

And the timing of the completion couldn’t be much better, with Christmas decorations in place, including trees created using inverted wine bottles.

“A lot of people’s first impression of the new Chateau Elan is obviously going to be at the holidays,” said Emily Truax, marketing director, during a tour in early December.

Workers are putting on finishing touches, such as exterior painting, with the plan to have a grand reopening celebration in January. The project is about 95% done, Truax said.

The $25 million makeover of the resort at 100 Rue Charlemagne Drive, just a couple miles outside South Hall, has been underway since it was announced in April.

The project has been vast, involving the winery, 251 guest rooms and 24 suites, restaurants, as well as the resort lobby, pool terrace and spa.

A major emphasis has been placed on The Inn, which houses guest rooms, conference rooms, amenities and restaurants.

“That’s been a top-to-bottom renovation,” Truax said. “It’s been a really exciting thing for us to watch. We’re able to see what the vision (for the project was) in real life.”

Overall, it’s a modernization, combining classic features with new, trendy looks.

“It’s country chic, if you will,” said former General Manager Ed Walls during a tour in June.

The renovation, led by Atlanta-based interior and architectural design firm Blur Workshop, included revamped and new eateries, as well as a coffee and wine bar in the lobby.

One of the most noticeable changes hits you as you walk in the front door, entering the lobby, which features a custom-carved limestone fireplace and hand-tufted rugs.

Another huge makeover took place in the atrium, a large commons area covered by a glass roof at the heart of The Inn.

The large space now features white marble, polished bronze and gold accents, and a 2,000-piece crystal chandelier. Work is finishing up on a library and restaurant bar area.

“We had 800 people (in the atrium) for Thanksgiving,” Truax said. “They were the first ones here to experience (the new look).”

Guest rooms feature new custom-designed carpeting and bathrooms with freestanding vanities made of wood and stone.

Corridors were also redone, including carpeting and wall coverings “layered by local art and iron sconces to help tell the resort’s rich, modernized story,” states an earlier press release about the project.

And color schemes are “going from a lot of taupes and browns to these metallics and grays, and more modern light,” Truax said.

At the winery, Marc Bar & Restaurant, a Southern-inspired restaurant and bar, reopened June 28.

The front of the resort, facing Old Winder Highway/Ga. 211 near Interstate 85, has a new monument sign that “really brands us as a resort,” Truax has said.

The renovation was started a little more than one year after Wheelock Street Capital of Greenwich, Conn., bought the property from Don Panoz, a pharmaceuticals entrepreneur who died in September 2018. Panoz and his wife, Nancy, founded the resort in Braselton more than three decades ago.

Wheelock executive Keith Manning spoke early on to The Times about the project soon after the acquisition, describing the 3,500-acre tourist destination as “tired.”

“It needs some TLC,” he said. “It needs getting the product up to a level we’re proud of as an owner and, most importantly, what our guests and the local community can be proud of.”

“It is a beautiful project that has so much potential,” new General Manager Neville Erasmus said last week, about two months after he started his job at the resort. “Once it’s done, it’s going to be fabulous.”

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Chateau Elan is nearing completion of its $25 million renovation, which includes an updated exterior. - photo by Scott Rogers
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