On this GMA Dave Trip, we’re headed to Mamou, the deepest part of the Cajun Prairie. A place known for Mardi Gras, Steve Riley, Fred’s Lounge, and the Historic Hotel Cazan.
Valerie Cahill is a New Orleans lady through and through, so how’d she end up owning a hotel in Mamou?
"The musical culture, people come from around the world to study with real musicians and learn to do things. So to answer your question, why here instead of somewhere else, I sensed an opportunity here. The people are wonderful, the backdrop is amazing, but it is a different experience."
Opening day of the hotel was, to say the least, interesting!
"Act of sale was the first of February in 2016. But the first Mardi Gras was very, very early in February," says Cahill. "The locals asked us to please, please, please open. It was almost impossible, but they had kept it climate controlled, but we had to be open in nine days. I brought in a SWAT team, it was friends and family. We were ready and we opened that Mardi Gras!"
The place has quite the history, and perhaps a few guests that never checked out!
Cahill says there is a cloud of energy, a female presence in the hotel that she says is called Mathilde.
"My understanding is that her happiest times were working here. She was in an unhappy marriage is my understanding, and the kitchen is still where the kitchen is, but there was a big dining room in the back. And so all day long she was coming in and out as she did when she was in here happiest time."
Some of the guests have even had experiences that can’t be explained. Cahill says that all types of items have been turned off and on without anyone being around. And the supernatural experiences have many guests believing Mathilde is definitely paying them a visit.
"You couldn’t tell them it wasn’t a ghost. Their door was locked and our doors are solid doors."
A bullet hole from an armed robbery that took place long ago is still visible in the hotel. Cahill explains the story behind its presence in the building.
"The person was intoxicated and he didn’t have any money to buy a cocktail," explains Cahill. "They said, ‘Hey why don’t you go rob a bank,’ and I’m sure they were kidding and my understanding is he was like, ‘no, why don’t we just rob you.’ He was drunk and nobody was hurt."
Cahill says she’s thrilled that hotel allows her to partner up with downtown merchants for events.
"Any event that happens here, little Mamou is the backdrop," Valerie explains. During Anthony Bourdain’s visit, Valerie says that he and his crew stayed at the hotel, even filming from the rooftop.
"They got to know everybody around here. They ate gumbo here, that Miss Camille’s husband made, Mr. Rancy Fontenot. They went to Crazy Cajun Cafe, they went to Freds. All of us that are a part of Mamou’s downtown, we stick together on stuff."
And you get the opportunity to make yourself as comfortable as home.
"People say, I don’t feel like I’m in a hotel. I feel like I’m in extra guest bedrooms," says Valerie. "I’ve got a man here in the hotel right now and he said he’s never felt more at home. It’s not like the feeling you get at a chain, you’re at your uncle’s house, you’re at your grandmother’s."
And of course, everything you need is right there.
"We love to have fun, they like to drink, they like to have a big party."
Valerie says guests can park their car and leave the keys at the front desk because of how central the hotel is in the city. And Cahill promises that you’re going to have a weekend like no other.
"We say unless the press picks up on it, what happens in Mamou, stays in Mamou," says Cahill. "You’ve got everything on one block. Every bar has a different flavor, every restaurant is a little different. And it’s all right here!"
You can book your stay at the Historic Hotel Cazan located at 401 6th Street in Mamou by giving them a call at (337) 468-5100. Find more information about the hotel at www.hotelcazan.com.
This weekend Mr. Willie Durisseau, a 100 year old WWII veteran and fiddle player will be honored at the first ever Durisseau Fiddle Contest at the hotel. The event will be held on Friday, June 29 and Saturday, June 30. The contest will begin with a reception at 7:00 pm on Friday and continues on Saturday at 10:15 am with a mini parade, photo shoot from 11 am to 2 pm, and the fiddle contest from 3 pm to 6 pm.
Awards will be held on Sunday at 11:00 am.
Contestants are still needed to compete. To register send your name and contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 337-468-5100. There is no fee to enter the contest. More information on the contest can be found, here.