Far Hills – An Inn for All Seasons
By Greg James
Published in the Summer 2006 Issue of Canadian World Traveller
Photos: Michael Morcos and Far Hills Inn (www.farhillsinn.com)
My travelling companion and I sped along the relatively flat terrain one finds just north of Montreal. But very soon after, the highway began a gentle incline as we approached Quebec’s Laurentian Region.
In less that an hour after leaving the city, rolling hills, majestic mountains and verdant valleys came into view. It was a scene reminiscent of the Swiss or Austrian countryside, but here we were, right in our own backyard. Our final destination that late spring morning — the Far Hills Inn in Val-Morin — was not really that far!
We drove on straight through the Town of Val-Morin, and then followed the signs that directed us along winding undulating country roads. It was a bit of a roller-coaster ride but this only added to the anticipation of arriving at the secluded Far Hills Inn.
What I didn’t expect to find was the country estate atmosphere created by the Inn’s three alpine-styled buildings set as they were in impeccably landscaped grounds with densely wooded valleys and mountains adding a dramatic, 360-degree backdrop.
Although it offers all the charm and personalized service of a country inn, the Far Hills is actually a four-season, 72-room resort hotel. The surrounding 500 acres of protected woodlands include Lac Lavallée, a pristine private mountain lake with a sandy beach, as well as the Inn’s extensive network of well-maintained scenic trails.
Besides catering to vacationers, the Far Hills also hosts many prestigious national and international meetings. The Inn provides up-to-the-minute conference facilities and services for groups of ten to as many as120 participants.
History of the Inn
Far Hills Inn hosted its first guests in 1940. The original owners, Charles and Florence Posthill, emphasized quality and grace in their role of innkeepers – a policy faithfully emulated by all of its subsequent owners.
In the late 60’s and early 70’s, Kenneth R. Patrick, founder of CAE, bought the Inn. He then sold it to Peter and Edward Bronfman, two of Canada’s most renowned industrialists.
In early 1975, David and Louise Pemberton-Smith became the proud and dedicated owners of the Inn. Their son Stephen Smith practically spent all of his boyhood weekends and vacations helping out at the Inn. Today, he manages it.
Gardens and Landscaping
As we toured the grounds, Stephen explained that it was his dad David, who was responsible for the Inn’s incredible gardens and unique stepped landscaping. Over the years, he lovingly created the Inn’s more than one dozen distinct flower gardens, including two wildflower gardens and a unique water garden that includes water lilies and goldfish!
One extraordinary aspect of the grounds is that the natural outcroppings of huge boulders found in the region have all been left in place with neatly mowed lawns surrounding each of them. The overall result is the blurring of the line where landscaping ends and nature begins.
Dining par Excellence
Since 1985, Far Hills Inn has operated one of the finer dining rooms in the Laurentians.
The day we visited, we enjoyed a delightful buffet lunch that included grilled salmon, chicken brochettes and broiled sirloin strips, accompanied by an extensive salad bar, rice and roasted new potatoes.
As we ate, we took in the mesmerizing panoramic views of the Inn’s gardens and the Laurentian countryside, afforded by the dining room’s large picture windows.
Aux Roches Fleuries
Since our visit, the Inn has opened a new gastronomic restaurant Aux Roches Fleuries, named for the previously mentioned rock formations and open to guests and non-guests alike.
Tennis & Art
The Inn offers two unique summer programs. One is its Tennis Package, which includes lessons by famed Canadian tennis pro, Lorne Main.
The other is an Art Vacation Package, which includes daily workshops in painting scenes of the Inn’s magnificent grounds and gardens led by professional artist Barbara Elmslie.
Something for Everyone
Guests of the Inn can take out canoes and pedal-boats on the Inn’s private lake; swim or sum at its beach; enjoy the Inn’s indoor and outdoor pools; play a game of volleyball, badminton, shuffleboard, or bowls; or make their moves with the pieces of the Inn’s giant outdoor chess game.
For the more energetic, there’s the hiking trail network and mountain biking. Other guests may choose to relax in the whirlpool and sauna or pamper themselves with a professional Swedish massage.
Far Hills Ski Centre
In winter, the trails of the Far Hills Ski Centre begin at the hotel’s front door. This gives guests direct access to the largest cross-country ski network in all of the Laurentians, just one of the many reasons why Far Hills has been recognised as Eastern Canada’s premier cross-country ski resort.
The Inn offers many attractive and surprisingly affordable packages for both the combined summer and fall season and the winter season. For detailed rates and directions to the Inn, visit www.farhillsinn.com.
For More Info:
Far Hills Inn
3399, chemin Far Hills
Val-Morin, QC J0T 2R0
From Montreal: 514-990-4409
Toll Free in Canada and USA: 1-800-567-6636