With its country roads, charming villages and French flair, Quebec’s Eastern Townships are a popular travel destination. This region of Canada dates back to the 18th century and was originally settled by British loyalists during the Revolutionary War. After the Civil War, wealthy Southerners bypassed New England, or “Yankeeland,” to spend their summers in the area, where they built estates.
Manoir Hovey, a stately luxury hotel on 25 acres, is one of these former estates. It’s a sophisticated, idyllic retreat, tucked away on the shores of Lake Massawippi just outside the picturesque village of North Hatley, a 75-minute drive from Montreal and just 20 minutes from the Vermont border. It was built in 1899 by Henry Atkinson, a wealthy Atlanta businessman, and was inspired by George Washington’s Mount Vernon home, with its broad veranda, white pillars, a former coach house, stables, and servants’ quarters. It was converted to an inn in 1950, and purchased by Stephen and Kathryn Stafford in 1979. They’ve made continuous improvements over the years while preserving its original ambiance. Their son, Jason, has been at the helm for the past 12 years.
The five-star hotel is a member of Relais & Châteaux, the prestigious travel association, and was just ranked the “Top Hotel in Eastern Canada” in Conde Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice Awards. Its picturesque setting provides serenity and privacy for guests while blending historic charm with modern comforts.
Almost all of the 37 rooms and suites have lake views, along with a combination of fireplaces, private balconies, and therapeutic tubs. Half have a rustic traditional décor, while the other half are done in a contemporary style. Amenities include complimentary Wi-Fi, large flat screen televisions, bathrobes, Frette towels and Nespresso coffee makers.
In the main house, there are 11 guest rooms, a comfortable library for reading or relaxing by the fire, a bar, and the restaurant, Le Hatley. There are another 14 rooms in the connected coach house, as well as 5 individual cottages, 7 luxury suites and a secluded chalet that can accommodate up to 10 people, with a private dock.
For an exceptional culinary experience, look no further than the inn’s Le Hatley restaurant. The warm, personalized service, along with the refined, inventive menu that takes advantage of the region’s seasonal bounty, makes dining here an unforgettable experience.
Executive Chef Roland Ménard is self-taught and has spent 30 years at Manoir Hovey. He’s earned numerous awards for Le Hatley, including CAA’s Four Diamonds. Chef de Cuisine Francis Wolf spent time in some of New York’s top kitchens – Alain Ducasse, Daniel, Aureole – before joining Manoir Hovey. Together, the chefs continuously seek the prefect harmony of flavors and textures, and don’t hesitate to venture into new culinary territory. They delight in using ingredients such as edible flowers, house made vinegars and locally foraged plants in their cuisine.
The restaurant has the most extensive selection of cheeses in Quebec, with more than 20 types available from a cheese cart that is rolled out during dinner, tempting diners and almost daring them to resist sampling two or three varieties. And the wine list is impressive, with more than 1,000 selections, many from regional and local vineyards.
A perfect spot for a cocktail before or after dinner is in the Tap Room Pub. The former carriage house has been converted into a historic antique-filled pub that’s a casual gathering spot with a friendly, inviting atmosphere. In the winter, after skiing, skating, or snowshoeing, the 10,000 brick fireplace beckons with its warm glow. In the warmer weather, there’s outdoor dining.
The hotel and its surroundings are a perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts. There are kayaks, canoes and bikes to use in the spring and summer and foliage tours from a pontoon on the lake in the fall. And cold temperatures notwithstanding, winters are magical at Manoir Hovey. Skiing, snowshoeing, ice-skating, and sleigh rides are available, as is one of the newest and most popular activities, complimentary ice fishing lessons on the frozen lake.
Beginning in January, on Saturday afternoons, a local entertaining guide, Florent Herbert, takes guests out onto the ice, where he brings along a warming stove and a pizza oven, both on skis. Guests enjoy artisanal seafood pizza and hot beverages while they try their luck at hooking something on their lines.
Another popular activity in Quebec is a day at a Nordic spa. With steamy saunas, cool plunge pools, relaxation, steam baths and thermal waterfalls, sessions alternate between hot and cold treatments to rejuvenate both mind and body. Manoir Hovey offers a package with Balnea Spa and Thermal Reserve that includes a guest room, dinner, breakfast, and a full day at this popular retreat.
With its close proximity to Montreal, Quebec, New York and New England, superior accommodations, attentive service, exquisite cuisine, and a host of year-round activities, Manoir Hovey offers an unsurpassed experience in one of the most charming regions in Canada.
For information or reservations, please call (819) 842-2421 or visit www.manoirhovey.com.