TRAVEL - INTERVIEW
Thursday, December 27, 2018
Caroline Contoz, Founder and Owner of Casa Ortega
TRAVEL - INTERVIEW
by Melisa Kaya
There is nothing like a holiday on the Mediterranean coast. Marseille is one of the best choices for experiencing both city life and natural beauty. Casa Ortega, owned by Caroline Contoz, has been welcoming guests since 2013 with its warm atmosphere. Casa Ortega promises a different experience with its carefully designed rooms and the historical texture. I talked with Caroline Contoz, Founder and Owner of Casa Ortega, about Casa Ortega and Marseille.
Caroline, before talking about Casa Ortega, could you tell us about yourself? Who is Caroline Contoz?
My name is Caroline Contoz, I'm the owner of Casa Ortega, independent B&B and founded 2013 in Marseille.
I’m a 50 years old Parisian, I settled in Marseille 15 years ago, when my husband was headhunted for a new job in Marseille.
We have 3 girls, the last one was born here.
I used to be a flight purser in my twenties for Air India (I lived in Bombay for 10 years) then came back and settled in Paris and was a communication manager for high-jewelry brand place Vendome.
I was working one week in Paris and the other one in Marseille, quite a stress with a divorce and 3 children… I loved my job but had to stop when my leg broke while skiing...
So I had to stop my job (had 8 months of recovery..)
What inspired you to establish Casa Ortega? Please tell us about the story of Casa Ortega.
The story of Casa Ortega is really one of a « coup de foudre » (love at first sight) ! : My companion is a real estate manager, and we wanted to have lunch in a place located close to Gare St Charles (the railway station) because he wanted also to have a look at a « offer that he didn't understand ».. it was this place... I decided not to wait for him in the car and to go with him for the visit... I felt in love with this old and odd place, quite devasted by years on unoccupancy but I could fathom a gem behind the rubbish.
I decided to buy it the same day (8 months of recovery for my knee and same for this old house !!!)
Few old neighbours came to see me during the work in progress and they told me the story of this gypsy guy living there with his young love a Mister Juan Ortega..musician.
So I've decided to call the place Casa Ortega !!!
What do you enjoy most about Marseille?
Marseille is a very different city… it is like a different place in France with a mix-city (ahaha) with no aggressivity
It's a harbour where you can feel the old civilizations, the welcome of any kind of people but also poverty and hope for better days… a smile is your best passport.
Could you tell us about Casa Ortega and the overall concept? How many different rooms do you offer to your guests? Could you tell us about their features and design details?
Casa Ortega was created like a big home...all rooms are different (size, color, furniture), quite small (because urban), no need to linger in a huge room while this city is waiting for you :) the lobby is THE place where people meet, talk, work, eat.. its the agora of the house! A big staircase is taking the guests up to their room (3 floors, 5 rooms in total, we can welcome 14 people)
The style is kind of vintage, lights are very important for the warm feeling, all rooms have AC, TV and a desk, all with large Italian showers.
We are careful of no waste, so our electricity is a renewable and cooperative one, no bathtubs of course and AC only when necessary !!!
What kind of special services do you offer to your guest for making their stay unforgettable?
I m the one to welcome all my guests and I m here for breakfast every morning... I can give tips, explain routes, book restaurants, advise on museum etc.
All are different so all need different advice... it is like having a friend at home, you are keen to pertinent advice, not a general one; That the special touch of Casa Ortega. Then it is their choice, freedom is the key !!
What would you want to say about the gastronomic diversity of Marseille? How could your guests live this experience?
Food is very important in my life, I like to eat, I like to shop in the markets, I like to cook... I've always had this kind of curiosity, maybe since my Indian years... The markets of this city are golden places !! specially Noailles which is 5 minutes walk from home. Its diversity, exotic smell, and feeling of nice crowded place are the mirror of Marseille! So many fruits, vegetables, bread, so different meats and fish, the small shops cooking in the back of the boutique... Ouahhhhh mouthwatering!
I always give this advice to my guests !! go through the markets !!
How could your guests spend time at Casa Ortega?
Concerning facilities, we offer free wifi, all rooms have a courtesy tray with coffee, tea or chamomilla, Nespresso is available in the lobby, microwave also in case of !!
Casa Ortega is located right at the feet of St Charles railway station which means: bus shuttle from and to airport every 15 minutes, huge and safe parking place, TGV, subway and city bus, taxi stand!! even city bikes to rent !!
If you have only one weekend in Marseille as a first-time visitor, in this limited time, what are the best things to do?
If you have limited time: The most famous attractions like Vieux Port, MUCEM, Notre Dame or le Panier are all reachable in 20 minutes max !! The best places to eat are right around the corner!
If you have an early train ..wake up call will be easier !!
The best location place !!
Do you have any advantage packs that you offer to your regular and long-term guests?
We have an advantage pack for regular travellers (more like a partnership): for a definite basic price, I upgrade them when possible, so they can « try » all rooms.
How can travelers make their individual or business/group reservations?
Booking is really easy on my website, payment online and automatic invoice enable my guest to rush to their train or meeting without any kind of check out stress! Nor even check in while I leave their keys available 24h if needed!
How could you describe Marseille in one sentence?
If I could define Marseille in one sentence?
Smile, taste and open your mind: you will be rewarded !!!!
Thank you Caroline for this enjoyable interview.