Buying the property, La Villa de Mazamet was the realization of a dream for Peter and Mark. An online search first spotlighted the property, a 1930's villa set in its own grounds in the bustling market town of Mazamet, and they knew on first inspection it had everything they were looking for. "The area itself, nestled at the foot of the Montagne Noire in South West France, still feels authentically French. We moved from the UK to France to live as the French do, we chose the area as it's not overrun by Brits!" says Mark.
After four years of intensive renovation work to one of the town's landmark buildings, La Villa de Mazamet opened its doors in May 2009 as a luxury, five-bedroomed B&B with a fine dining restaurant. Peter and Mark's combined experience and expertise in the luxury hotel industry as well as marketing and business has proved to be an award-winning formula for this successful B&B.
La Villa de Mazamet has just scooped a Top 20 placing in the 'World's Best B&Bs', TripAdvisor's prestigious Travellers Choice 2016 Awards.
So what is the secret to their success?
"We aim to offer all of the professionalism and high standards of a luxury hotel but with all of the charm and intimacy of a B&B."
As 'outsiders' to the area, have they integrated into the local community?
"A year or so after opening up we contacted all of the local businesses with the view to working together to promote the local town. This collaborative initiative has worked well as now our guests benefit from a free map of the town highlighting thirty five partners (from bars to bistros, boutiques to leather shops) offering special incentives from discounted shopping to free aperitifs."
Having first been introduced to freetobook by another B&B, what were their first impressions?
"We were initially hesitant about online booking, fearing it would take away the personal touch we wanted to offer our guests but we love the functionality of the software. We can still offer the personal touch by customizing the various freetobook templates."
What does the future hold for La Villa owners?
"We have just recently opened up The Little Hideaway, a luxury self-catering lodge for two guests only a short drive away in the village of Le Vintrou. It's good to always have a project on the go" laughs Mark.