Frédéric Biousse and Guillaume Foucher’s hotel line prioritizes connection to a place, reflecting the geographies their destinations rest upon
Les Domaines de Fontenille is the hotel group paving the way for a new kind of luxury hospitality. Founded eight years ago by Frédéric Biousse and Guillaume Foucher, the line centers understated elegance in its approach to extravagance, proving that nothing is more valuable than true connection with a place—its landscape, food, community, and culture.
Both Biousse and Foucher began as outsiders to hospitality, approaching the industry from the worlds of luxury fashion and art, respectively. The pair’s journey began with the purchase of a 4,000-acre vineyard. “A lot of people buy vineyards just because they want to buy vineyards—but we went back to university and got a degree in winemaking,” says Biousse. They turned the accompanying residence into their first hotel, with a hands-on method that heavily inspired its configuration. “Every time we would go to a fancy hotel, it would be perfectly designed by the best designer. But there would be no soul. So we decided to do the opposite: We do it all ourselves.”
“New luxury is not about money. It’s about making sense of your life, of what you eat, of what you give your children to eat.”
Despite now leading a small team, which operates out of Paris, Biousse and Foucher do all the location scouting themselves. “We don’t read market studies; we just know where we want to go,” says the latter. When they decide upon a place, they move in and live in each room—ordering just the essentials from IKEA to figure out the bare details, like where each bed should go and where to serve drinks before dinner. To the pair, this kind of information can only be gleaned by spending a couple of months immersed in a space themselves. Only afterwards do they send information to designers and architects, to begin the transformation process.
It’s not the fastest or the most profitable way of doing things—but that’s not the focus of Les Domaines de Fontenille’s philosophy. According to the founders, “New luxury is not about money. It’s about making sense of your life, of what you eat, of what you give your children to eat.” To them, luxury is about finding yourself through the intricacies of a place; each hotel offers a unique set of location-specific experiences, from cliff walks to sea urchin tastings to surf lessons. This local investment doesn’t end with clients. In each location, three-quarters of staff live within 15 kilometers of the hotel, and work under long-term contracts; most of their suppliers are based nearby. The hotels reflect the geography they’re situated upon, offering a new standard for what sustainable, holistic luxury can look like.
In this sense, a clear marker of Biousse and Foucher’s success is the diversity of their roster of hotels. Each location is as diverse as the land it sits on. When asked to choose a favorite, the pair can’t seem to find an answer, agreeing on one sentiment: “You love all of your children.”