Michael Baum, the founding CEO of $5 billion big data pioneer Splunk, has revealed he plans to use his new luxury hotel on a prestigious 300-year-old wine estate in Burgundy as a testbed for student technologies he’s backing.
The 30-room hotel, based at the 22-hectare Chateau de Pommard winery in Burgundy, France, will feature everything from electric scooters to air-cleaning walls when it opens at some point in the next three years.
The technologies Baum is contemplating are all part of his Founder.org programme, a non-profit organisation that aims to help student entrepreneurs turn their innovative ideas into a reality over a period of several months.
“We’re building a hotel, a restaurant, an art museum and a cultural centre,” Baum told Techworld this week at a Founder.org event held at the Stockholm university where Spotify was born, KTH.
The serial Silicon Valley entrepreneur, who is believed to be a billionaire, said certain rooms will include Biome’s living walls, which clean the air guests breathe by filtering out pollution.
He also said that guests will be able to zip around the estate's multiple vineyards on Unu’s electric scooters, while the hotel restaurant will get prawns, mushrooms and vegetables from a specially-designed roof greenhouse provided by Edenworks.
Meanwhile, the art gallery will feature works from several famous artists as well as "digital art" from depict that allows people to discover, collect, and display a curated selection of digital art via connected devices.
The Chateau de Pommard estate produces 100,000 bottles every year for an annual turnover of six million euros ($7.8 million). It's unclear how much of this, if any, now goes to Baum.
The site, soon to be protected under UNESCO world heritage laws, is the largest single vineyard in all of Burgundy and it’s thought to attract approximately 35,000 tourists a year.
Currently there aren’t many luxury hotels in the area, according to Baum, who described the project as a “fun distraction”, adding he’s not sure exactly what the hotel and restaurant will be called at this stage.
“It’s a big project,” he admitted. “We’re just breaking ground. It’s going to be two years before we have the restaurant. The hotel will be three years.”
The two buildings that make up the Chateaux de Pommard estate date back to 1706 and 1803 and haven’t been lived in for over 150 years. There are missing floorboards and patches of hay and sand inside the buildings, said Baum. The value of the property is unknown.
In terms of renovation costs, Baum wasn’t revealing much either. “My wife asks the same question and I say we won’t know until we put it out for bid,” he said. “I’m sure I will be sticker-shocked when I see this and I’m not sure I prepared myself for it. Hopefully I’ll be drinking a glass of wine when I see the numbers.”