Villa Walbaum - ©Pierre-Jean Pluvy
Ludovic Walbaum ©Pierre-Jean Pluvy

The Villa Walbaum in Vallon-Pont-d'Arc will be the seventh 4-star hotel to open its doors in South Ardèche in spring. And the tourist office intends to make it clear that there is not only the outdoor hotel industry in the south of the department.

Until a few years ago, the South Ardèche was best known for its campsites. This is still the case, but the sector will soon have seven four-star hotels. And in this period of health crisis, Ludovic Walbaum decided to invest in his family home to turn it into a luxury hotel.

A «Tuscan» villa at the entrance of Vallon-Pont-d'Arc

The Walbaum family house dates from the 18th century. With its columns and frescoes on the façade, it looks like an Italian house. Ludovic and his wife Chloé Walbaum intend to play on this similarity to attract customers. And tell them the story of this place by offering them all the necessary comfort.

“There was a clientele who went to the Chauvet 2 cave and then left for the Luberon, Uzès or Avignon.” Ludovic Walbaum, owner of the future hotel Villa Walbaum.

Ludovic Walbaum is certain that this clientele corresponds to what he will propose. A domain with a family history in the middle of the vineyards.

Seven four-star hotels in South Ardèche

And the South Ardèche which has long let this clientele escape is catching up. The small village of Vagnas on the border of the department of Gard has two four-star hotels, the Convent, 29 rooms and the Bastide d'Iris, 21 rooms.

Two years ago, the management of the bastide of Iris decided to go from 13 to 21 rooms by building a new building in the property.

A bet on the future that seems to succeed since the establishment has achieved a very good 2020 season except of course the spring. The months from July to September worked well. But the founder is a little worried about the birth of new four-star hotels. The annual average filling rate is 40%.

“We were the first three and then four stars in the industry. Today the competition is tougher.” Dominique Faure, founder of the Bastide d'Iris.

Chauvet 2 cave attracts a new clientele

Chauvet 2 Cave opened in April 2015. It has attracted a new clientele that is more demanding on the accommodation conditions and that does not go in the cottages or camping.

“With this high-end private offering, we can work with a new customer base.” Vincent Orcel, director of Pont d'Arc Ardèche, the tourism office of the sector.

These customers now have the facilities they need to meet their expectations."

By Pierre-Jean Pluvy, France Bleu Drôme Ardèche