“The plan to renovate Chateau Mcely was born fifteen years ago and from the very beginning we were guided by higher principles. Our aim was to deliver more than a high-quality hospitality service – we wanted to enrich the lives of our employees, guests, investors, suppliers and the wider community, and in doing so to improve our little corner of the world. To fulfill this mission we boldly embarked on creating an elegant yet supremely comfortable chateau residence infused with an atmosphere of enchanting beauty, tranquility and impeccable service delivered with loving care.
I am often asked for the secret behind the magic of Chateau Mcely. It took me a while to find the right answer to what may appear an easy question. The Mcely Magic flows from our tireless pursuit to live our mission and values and from our ceaseless attention to detail.”
Inéz Cusumano—Owner, Chateau Mcely
Chateau Mcely rises from the bucolic landscape of the St. George Forest, a mystical woodland shrouded in ancient legends. For the past eleven years the chateau has been an oasis for the weary traveler, a place always poised to rejuvenate the body and soul, stimulate all senses, and guide you to your inner core. It is a magical place once almost lost to decay were it not for a successful and ambitious young woman who succumbed to its magic. Like the castle from the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty, Chateau Mcely lay dormant for nearly 50 years under a veil of overgrown greenery before Inéz Cusumano came to its rescue. But unlike in the fairy tale, it was a woman who led the chateau’s awakening from its deep slumber, not prince charming, though she was more than aided by her loving husband Jim and their amazing team of collaborators, most particularly, husband and wife Vlastimil and Eva Plch.
The story began in 2001, when Inéz visited the chateau almost by chance while prospecting properties for an American friend and immediately fell under its spell. Although the idea of purchasing and renovating the chateau seemed foolish at best, Inéz felt pulled by a mystical force. She recalls being greeted by the groundskeeper as though he had always known her and had been patiently waiting for her to return and take the helm. And she instinctively knew every nook and cranny of the crumbling residence owned previously by the Thurn and Taxis noble family, who had hosted literary luminaries like Rainer Maria Rilke and Mark Twain within its once splendid halls.
Turning the former Thurn and Taxis chateau into its current state of glorious elegance took five years of very hard work and steely determination. Guided by Inéz’s vision, the renovation project was driven by key values: care and love for oneself and others, respect for cultural heritage, collaboration, and environmental sustainability, values that were bound to assure the success of this grand endeavor. Windows were soon adorned with hydrangea floral prints on sumptuous curtains, the grand staircase shone with a new luster, and corridors were filled with the sound of busy hands and feet. All renovations were carefully planned and particular consideration was given to the chateau’s heritage and to sustainability. Interior elements that could be saved were lovingly restored to their former elegance, and new pieces, designed by the Czech designer Oto Bláha, were commissioned from Czech craftsmen and craftswomen.
The team’s hard work was rewarded in 2006 when the gates opened to a five-star hotel that was to become a jewel in the crown of the Czech hospitality scene. It was then that the power of Inéz‘s vision and the tireless efforts of the team that supported her were fully unveiled. Every little detail, so carefully planned and considered, fell into its loving place – it was as if some magical force had brought together elements that were always meant to coexist. Soon after the opening the Inéz and Jim‘s visionary approach of incorporating environmental sustainability into every aspect of the renovation project earned Chateau Mcely the international recognition of the World‘s Leading Green Hotel, the first five-star hotel to receive the green label in the Czech Republic and the second such hotel in all of Europe. The same magical force that cast its spell over Inéz Cusumano many years ago has since drawn a team of talented employees who have become devoted to Chateau Mcely’s vision of making a difference through lovingly-delivered service. The atmosphere of love and kindness permeates the chateau and it is thus no surprise that a number of marriages have emerged from partnerships formed between employees, and that the Mcely family has been blessed by the arrival of new life over the years.
Conceived by designer Oto Bláha, the interior is colorful and beautifully varied, inviting you to explore faraway lands, experience the seasons, and discover the lives of personalities past and present. Regal gold and cream dominate the color palette, carefully complemented by ebony black and sage-flower purple, which seamlessly connects the chateau’s interior to the gardens beyond. Other organic motives abound, with gorgeous murals of garden scenes featuring golden birds, and heavenly hydrangea blossoms skillfully imprinted on curtains, upholstery and the walls.
Although Chateau Mcely appears compact from the exterior, the interior tells another story. The ground level includes three interconnected halls, one of which was the original chateau theatre, and a lush covered patio that bridges the space between the chateau’s interior and its beautiful grounds. A grand staircase leads to the central Golden Hall on the first floor, the energetic core of Chateau Mcely and the preferred place for wedding ceremonies and other important celebrations. The first floor also houses suites named after the world’s continents that beckon the would-be explorer to discover new lands with ease and in comfort. The second floor pays homage to the passage of time with rooms dedicated to the twelve months and a wing honoring famous historical personalities, some of whom once walked the halls of this splendid residence. The third and final floor invites you to explore the stars in the chateau’s roof-top observatory and peruse rare old texts in an extensive tower library.
In the summer months the park at Chateau Mcely transforms into an enormous gift box wrapped in a purple ribbon of sage. The glorious expansive grounds are a treat for all senses, taste included. A path fringed by juicy blueberries waiting to be picked leads you to a refreshing lake filtered by natural filtration, a sauna, and the spa’s Honey Rotunda, where guests can indulge in therapeutic rituals. The path continues along the lake and guides your meandering feet to a place infused with the fragrance of herbs. This is the treasure of the Mcely kitchen, the place where ingredients for delectable dishes are plucked fresh from the herb garden or the edible flower beds. And in a quiet corner hides an eerie cave once used for storing vegetables and today serving as the chateau’s smokehouse.
Within sight of the edible garden are the tennis courts and various exercise equipment laid out among the trees, inviting guests to stretch their muscles in the fresh air. Guests are also encouraged to exercise the traditional way – by putting on a pair of gumboots and tending to the gardens, or perhaps planting a tree – a beautiful Chateau Mcely tradition. Children find delight at the nearby children’s playground, complete with a playhouse for princesses.
The spiritual centre of the Chateau Mcely park is the meditation garden built in 2015. Conceived as a natural chapel dedicated to peace and tranquility, the meditation garden is centered around a beautiful statue of a mother and child celebrating a mother’s unconditional love. It has a platform that is often used for meetings or yoga classes. A quiet moment in the meditation garden contemplating the beauty of the gently swaying leaves is nothing short of perfect tranquility.
Chateau Mcely’s Piano Nobile restaurant is a true gem of culinary delight. Led by Executive Chef Honza Štěrba, the restaurant was named the ‘Best Restaurant in the Czech Republic’ for 2014 by Maurer’s Grand Restaurant Guide for its imaginative, delectable menu. A leading force of Chateau Mcely’s ‘green’ agenda, the kitchen prides itself on being able to source many ingredients literally from the back steps. Herbs grow in the kitchen garden below the chateau, blueberries dot the path towards the lake, and stunning rose petals are carefully handpicked for delicious ice cream. Ingredients that cannot be grown or made in the Mcely kitchen are sourced from local farmers, including prized cheeses, sausages, baked goods and jams. And to complete the green cycle, all kitchen scraps are collected and served to chickens or rabbits raised by the employees or neighbors. In Chateau Mcely’s award-winning kitchen, absolutely nothing goes to waste.
Essential Mcely Bouquet
When Inéz Cusumano left the big city at the start of the Chateau Mcely story, she was welcomed by a rich bouquet of scent. The tradition of herbalism proved to be deeply rooted in the local area, including the time-honored practice of collecting the fabled nine flowering herbs around the time of St. John’s feast day. The nine magical herbs, believed to heal all manner of ills, inspired Inéz to learn from the living memories of old herbalists and to create a line of organic cosmetic products under the label Mcely Bouquet. These unique cosmetics are blended in the chateau’s own alchemical laboratory from nearly ninety different ingredients and are used in its award-winning spa and are available to its guests. They are also used and offered by several luxury hotels, such as Prague‘s Mandarin Oriental.
A Castle For Every Princess
Inéz was in the process of birthing a child while rebirthing Chateau Mcely. Her and Jim’s daughter, Julia was born one month after the chateau opened its doors in 2006. So it‘s no surprise that there is a strong imprint for young princesses to share in, including a Princess Suite and numerous custom-made products for young royalty. It all started when Inéz authored an enchanting fairytale storybook entitled Princess Nely of Chateau Mcely. Modelled after Julia’s fantasies, the book has become a big seller, published in both Czech and English. It’s no surprise that one of the most popular events of the year is Gathering of the Princesses, which takes place every September.
Making a Difference
The Chateau Mcely family continuously directs its loving and tireless efforts to fulfill Inez’s vision—to make a difference in the world by making a difference in the lives of the chateau’s guests, employees, partners and the broader community. The team has created a magical retreat which has brought tremendous joy and comfort to countless visitors from all over the world. Many have pronounced their love for each other within the chateau walls and have returned with the children they were blessed to receive. Important life events have been honored and celebrated here, and weary executives have gained greater clarity of life’s true purpose under the loving care of the Chateau Mcely family. The team works diligently and creatively to consistently reinvent their enterprise so that it may continue to enrich the lives of all who are drawn to experience its magic.
About the Author:
Helena Stiessová is Editor for SOFFA Magazine (www.soffamag.com), the first slow living magazine in the Czech Republic. This story is based on her experiences at Chateau Mcely (www.chateaumcely.cz/en).