SET ON 15 LUSH ROLLING ACRES, THIS CLASSIC FRENCH INSPIRED ESTATE AND GARDENS CELEBRATES THE GRAND OPENING OF ITS LUXURY HOTEL, THE FINAL PIECE IN THE OWNERS’ VISION OF A FAIRYTALE DESTINATION
BY AMANDA McCOY • PHOTOS BY ERIC COLEMAN
April 8 is a special date for brothers Barry and Joe Maurillo and Vito Cucci. The three born andraised Jersey boys began their business partnership early in their young careers at a nightclub/ banquet facility, each with aspirations to one day enter the wedding industry and use their vast hospitality expertise to shape once in a lifetime experiences. This vision took form several years ago, on April 8, when the trio acquired the Tuscan inspired Nanina’s in the Park in Belleville, then the landmark Park Savoy Estate shortly thereafter, again on the eighth day of April. And in April 2016, the Maurillo brothers and Cucci purchased a verdant 15 acre property in East Brunswick that captured their hearts the moment they stepped onto the stone courtyard. As fate would have it, they closed on the 8th.
Park Château Estate and Gardens is tucked into the rolling countryside of East Brunswick, equidistant from New York City and Philadelphia in mileage yet an ocean and several centuries away in character. The new owners saw a bounty of potential in the 17th century France inspired property, and they immediately employed a massive renovation to the existing building (the château), added a light soaked non-denominational chapel, and refashioned the gardens to emanate classic Versailles. But there was still one puzzle piece missing; from the moment the partners stepped onto the property, they envisioned a true destination, a retreat that invited guests to escape to the French countryside for more than a mere afternoon. Enter the Château Grande Hotel.
“Our vision for Château Grande Hotel was to complete the luxury wedding experience,” explained Barry Maurillo. “Couples, their families, and wedding guests can check in, enjoy à la carte dining or a private dining experience at a rehearsal dinner, walk to Park Château for an extravagant wedding, and return to Château Grande Hotel for an overnight stay of comfort and five star accommodations followed by indulging in brunch the morning after.”
The owners broke ground on the full service luxury hotel in June 2019, and welcomed their first guests last December. Comprising 100 guest rooms plus eight expansive suites, the structure was designed to complement its classic Provençal surroundings. Wreathed by lush flower gardens and trees, the facade is a snapshot of historic France, but the interiors are outfitted with all the luxuries of a modern, five star American resort.
Glamorous appointments like crown molding, rich hardwood floors, chandeliers, and contemporary furniture fill the rooms.
“We chose French style architecture for the exterior of the building, but we brought in a modern, New York style for the interior. We used all high end woods, flooring, and materials throughout the rooms, lounge, and restaurant to give each area a classic feel with a modern twist.”
Two balcony suites boast 450 square feet of outdoor living space plus a dining table with seating for six, modern kitchenette, and two salon prep stations for hair and makeup. There are six 1,135 square foot bridal suites, each with a classic pedestal soaking tub, living room with sofa bed and full bath, six person table, kitchenette, and two or three salon stations.
But while the hotel certainly elevates the wedding experience, Maurillo explained that it also serves as an idyllic destination for any type of occasion or reason, from anniversaries to impromptu weekend trips. And there’s plenty to keep the overnighters occupied, from the on-site gym and pool to a chic, decadent dining experience from award winning celebrity chef David Burke at Orchard Park. The modern American restaurant serves classic chef Burke delicacies, from his patented Himalayan sea salt dry aged steak to seafood, pizzas, and pastas. Every Tuesday is burger night.
“We are honored to be partnered with chef David Burke,” effused Maurillo. “When creating the best wedding location in the tri state, we knew we needed the best restaurateur to tie the knot with. Chef David Burke, like the three of us, is always striving to come up with new and exciting dining experiences. Having such a successful background in à la carte dining and catering, chef David Burke was a match made in heaven.”
Bathed in a cool, au courant atmosphere, the C’est La Vie cocktail lounge serves scratch made libations late into the evening. Enjoy a bourbon nightcap before heading upstairs or stop by after work for a quick happy hour toast.
“An innovative food and drink menu at the restaurant, C’est La Vie lounge, and private dining rooms create the perfect location for any special event, whether you are just celebrating with your significant other or with a group of 100,” added the co-owner.
Nearly five years have passed since the trio took ownership of the estate, and today they are witnessing their vision of an all-inclusive, fairytale destination in full bloom. Decades in the hospitality trade have taught them not to rush, that every detail deserves equal consideration and every guest “deserves to be treated like royalty.”
“The absolute most rewarding aspect is smiling faces,” added Maurilla with a smile himself. “Happy couples, happy guests, all leaving with the best experience. There is a true magic to making dream weddings and events come true, and when they do, it warms our hearts beyond measure.”