Blue eyes, blond hair, the ability to roll your tongue. These are traits we know are passed down in families, but perhaps a great laugh and a kind personality should be added to the list. Nikki Louiselle came to us in June of 2016 from a career in the financial world. Born and raised in the area, she moved from Ellsworth to Charlevoix in 1996. She was no stranger to the Castle though; both her father and her son had worked at the Castle for years and spoke highly of it to her. Her father, Chet, worked in the gardens, and was busy getting them ready for spring. Mason, her son, was on the set-up staff and planned to return in the summer after his first year away at college. “I knew how much my dad and son liked it here and how well they were treated.” Nikki decided to apply, and the rest is history. Working at Castle Farms had become a family tradition.
Nikki is the Castle’s Group Tour Specialist. She works with coach and charter bus companies to organize trips to the Castle, leads a department of tour guides, and has a huge hand in creating a phenomenal self-guided tour guest experience. Nikki likes to talk, there’s no doubt. Her favorite subject? The Knight’s Castle and its recovery under Linda Mueller’s guidance. She firmly believes that the reason the original roof was able to be saved can be credited to Linda’s “stubbornness and tenacity”, and we won’t argue with her on that. Nikki also loves the connection between Linda and the Castle’s original owner, Albert Loeb, and how both were so community minded. Both owners wanted to create a thriving business that employed local people and enhanced the community, and we believe they both have accomplished that feat.
When Nikki is not busy attending conferences like the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism, Boomers in Groups, the State Historical Conference, and the American Bus Association Marketplace, she spends her time with her husband of 23 years, Mike, and her 4 children: Mason, a freshman at CMU; Ellie, a sophomore at Charlevoix High School; and twins Mabel and Bram, who are 12 ½ years old. “They’d really want that half year noted,” Nikki laughs. The family loves to go camping at Barns Park near Eastport. They stay in their old pop up camper. “When orange and brown were popular the first time around- that’s our camper.” Nikki and Mike spend a lot of time traveling for the kid’s sports, including volleyball, softball, basket ball, and track. Nikki’s favorite thing to do is to watch her kids have fun doing what they’re doing, whatever that may be. This encouraging attitude is one of the reasons we at the Castle simply adore Nikki.
We aren’t alone though. At the Charlevoix Business Expo on March 15, 2017, Nikki manned the Castle Farms booth, talking to visitors about the Castle, answering questions, and making people smile. After a group would continue on, her response to her booth partner might be “that’s my mom’s neighbor” or “Mike built their deck”. It seemed like she had some sort of connection to everyone who stopped by. It’s pretty obvious that Nikki loves the Charlevoix area and enjoys knowing the people that make up its community.
When asked about her favorite moments at the Castle, Nikki’s face lights up. “It’s a tie” she claims. She loves having locals come in who have seen the Castle go through different changes and are amazed at the progress. The other top contenders are charter bus guests. “They walk in the door and gasp” Nikki says. The joy that the Castle is able to bring to people really motivates her and in turn, makes her happy. So Nikki, what do you think about working at the Castle? “It’s a pretty good gig” she smiles. And of course, that makes us smile, too.