She studied financial management. That is, something that was completely different from her creative ideas. “But I enjoyed mathematics and I had the idea that one day I would work in finance and earn enough money to take care of the whole family,” recalls Markéta Hansen.
She gained her first work experience already at school, it was sticking labels on products in the warehouse and administrative assistance. After university, she worked in a renowned auditing company.
When and why did you decide to start your own business? Tired of working in a multinational company?
I enjoyed the work, although it was quite time-consuming, but we had a great team. And thanks to the work on various projects, it was also diverse.
About 12 years ago, we attended a team building event at a castle in Šumava. And I was excited. When I saw how the young couple manages and takes care of their guests there, I really liked the idea of a similar project. A place where people come, relax, recharge their batteries and go home satisfied. A place where they get new ideas. A place to spend time with family and friends.
But is it not easy to buy a lock?
You are right. After a while, we completely abandoned this idea. It wasn’t until the time of covid that my husband discovered an ad for the sale of a mansion in Trnová. The funny thing is that we live nearby. Between the church and the castle park, we collect chestnuts in summer and autumn. I never noticed that there was a castle there, because of the higher walls and tall trees it was not visible. We arranged a tour, the charm of the castle breathed upon us in the main hall and we immediately fell in love with it.
What condition was the lock in? You probably had a lot of work to do?
In 2006, the castle was fundamentally reconstructed, then from a ruin. Originally, we thought we would make the most necessary cosmetic changes. However, we gradually found out what all needed to be repaired so that the space could be used and provide the comfort we would expect. We often ran into problems we hadn’t anticipated. For example, when we were replacing the floor, we came across a poorly made subfloor and suddenly it was a lot more work. The facade did not dry well. There was no emergency lighting in the castle, which, according to a report from the fire department, needed to be added for operation.
There is a restaurant and a kitchen in the castle. It is therefore necessary to observe hygiene regulations. And perhaps preservationists comment on the reconstruction?
The kitchen was really a lot of work. There was no professional kitchen that we needed for our vision, no air conditioning in the kitchen, no professional equipment, no Haccap was developed for its operation.
We negotiated with the preservationists mainly regarding the parking lot that we were building next to the castle garden. Since this part of the property is also a cultural monument, even in the parking lot the recommendations of the preservationists had to be heeded. It was not possible to build a normal parking lot with asphalt, because it would not correspond to the period. It was not possible to establish the grass beds that I wanted between the parking spaces. In the future, we want to plant trees, even here we know what they should be like when we plant them.
How long did it take you to open the business?
It took us 6 months to repair and renovate the premises. We received the keys in December 2020, they started renovations in January, and in June 2021 we had our first wedding at the castle. The day before the wedding, the husband picked up the main plate for the bathroom in the wedding suite in Teplice and installed it by nightfall. We all spent the morning making many minor adjustments and hanging the last paintings. The wedding was booked, so we had to make it. But it was quite a ride.
Markéta Hansen (38 years old)
The wedding went well, so you got some rest?
It depends. When we managed to successfully complete all the implementation and thought it would be better, a lot more work was added. Suddenly there was a lock, everything was done, but no one knew the lock existed. It was necessary to have enough staff and to open.
So we had a very difficult task ahead of us, which was to make sure that people knew that Trnová existed and that they started going to the restaurant and the hotel. In addition to the daily work with the staff, with the guests, with their search, in the fall we again faced restrictions due to covid, so we tried to come up with possible ideas on how to survive.
You survived, you are doing well today, how many employees do you have for example?
We currently have 10 employees, 4 external, temporary workers and us. I take care of the normal operation, and my husband and I then deal with more fundamental decisions regarding the castle.
You financed the reconstruction and launch of Chateau Trnová from your own resources. Did you get a return on your investment yet?
The complete renovation of the premises was financially very expensive, as well as the start-up and current operation costs are high. We still have a long way to go to recoup the investment.
Don’t you regret your decision?
I don’t regret the decision. Yes, sometimes I have a weak moment when I would rather hang everything on a nail, but then I calm down again, take a deep breath and we move on. It is demanding, one cannot imagine what awaits him and how much work the operation of a restaurant and hotel entails. However, I have fulfilled one of my dreams and satisfied clients give me energy.
What do you have planned for the next season and years?
We would like to organize more cultural events, concerts, openings, lectures, and we would also like to organize holiday markets, whether Christmas or Easter. From October 1, we also start with a new concept for business lunches.