The Royal Treatment
Published in the Spring 2007 Issue of Canadian World Traveller
By Lise Giguère
Photos: Lise Giguère / Relais & Châteaux
In the last few years, luxury tourism has grown by leaps and bounds. Luxury hotels have sprouted up all over the world, each more imaginative than the last, both in their décor and the quality and variety of services they offer. Unfortunately, we often hesitate to stay at these resorts because they seem out of reach: WRONG!
The Inns of Relais & Chateaux
Obviously a room in a Relais & Chateaux costs more than your average B&B but you have to make a fair comparison, check out the varying packages being offered and above all, consider everything that is included and the personalised warm welcome that awaits you.
The 453 medium-sized establishments (each with an average of 25 rooms) of the Relais and Chateau Group are located in 50 countries on five continents.
Without exception, they all offer the 5 Cs: Character, Courtesy, Calm, Charm and Cuisine. In other words, they each have a unique character and a special charm. Guests are always welcomed with courtesy, the calm is unbelievable and the cuisine holds the promise of unforgettable gastronomic delights. Aren’t you and your loved ones worthy of this kind of royal treatment?
Well OK, I haven’t stayed at all 453 hotels (sigh!), but just flipping through the guide (available free of charge at www.relaischateaux.com) makes me quiver in anticipation of my next stay!
What a joy it is to visit these hotels, to lounge on their huge, comfortable beds, to slip between the fine sheets under the feather comforters, to linger in the spas offering such invigorating original treatments, to savour new dishes prepared by such passionate chefs, to relax contemplating their superb vistas, and above all, to live the royal life, pampered by service beyond compare.
My only problem is that now that I have indulged in the Relais & Chateaux experience, I have only one dream: going back!
La Pinsonnière Hotel
Located in the heart of the extraordinarily beautiful Charlevoix Region, which has been designated as a UNESCO world wildlife reserve, La Pinsonnière is perched high above the waters of the Saint Lawrence River. Every second spent here is exquisite, as this grand former family home truly exudes refinement.
Oh, how I loved sitting in front of the fireplace in its grand salon, savouring a meal in its unmatchable restaurant while watching the boats go by on the river, visiting its wine cellar – one of the best in the whole country, or enjoying one of the newly available Dr. Hauschka spa treatments.
My only problem was which one of the huge luxurious rooms to choose, since each boasts a fireplace and a superbly appointed bathroom, twelve of them having a private sauna. And I know that I will never forget waking up to the magnificent views of the mighty Saint Lawrence through the hotel’s oversized windows. At this point the mighty river is some 25 km across.
The design of the hotel is so well conceived that even the railings of the balconies won’t block your view, since they are made of glass! For more information, call 800-387-4431 or visit www.lapinsonniere.com.
Les Trois Tilleuls Inn
Backing onto the Richelieu River, on an exquisitely landscaped property, Les Trois Tilleuls Inn feels more like an old country home. Its 41 rooms and suites, overlooking the Richelieu, offer all the modern comforts you could wish for, while its cuisine, recognised as one of the best in the Quebec Region of Montérégie, invites you to discover its regional delicacies.
Yet, it was its swings that I loved, where I adored reading or daydreaming, lulled by the sound of the gurgling waters of the river. While there, I was even lucky enough to witness a most romantic wedding taking place in the little chapel built on a small island just off the hotel grounds. The chapel, reached by crossing a small wooden bridge, is where couples exchange their vows, regardless of their religion.
Finally, in the Givenchy Spa, the only one in Canada and the Eastern US, I had a taste of paradise thanks to Lomi-Lomi, a ‘Loving Touch’ or traditional Hawaiian massage. In this sanctuary of relaxation, good taste and exquisite pleasure, each of the 11 treatment rooms is flooded with natural light and offers a view over the hotel grounds and its huge pool. Here, time stands still. A treatment at this spa is unforgettable! It’s pure magic! For more information, call 800-263-2230 or visit www.lestroistilleuls.com.
Auberge Saint-Antoine Inn
In the heart of the old part of Quebec City, facing the St. Lawrence River, the latest addition to the Relais & Chateaux chain, the Auberge Saint-Antoine (pictured at bottom of photo on the left), elegantly combines the charm of its old stonewalls with tasteful modern elements.
This hotel, one of the most seductive in all of Old Quebec, offers 94 rooms and deluxe suites along with its six meeting and reception rooms.
Located in the historical and archaeologically important original site of the Old Hunt Island Warehouses, a group of buildings built in the Old Port in the 1700’s, the designers of the Auberge converted it with a keen eye on preserving its historic roots.
Some 700 artefacts are exhibited in display cases or discretely installed in your night table or beside your door. This small hotel-museum, the only one of its kind in Canada, it the ideal romantic spot to exchange or renew your vows with your partner!
Its restaurant, Le Panache, located in a former maritime warehouse dating from the XIXth century, extends the invitation to immerse yourself in history while savouring its much-touted cuisine. It’s quite the experience! For more information, call 888-692-2211 or visit www.saint-antoine.com.
L’Eau à la bouche Hotel
Located in the Laurentians just north of Montreal, or more precisely in Sainte-Adèle, l’Eau à la bouche is a delight not to be missed. Their rooms, each with a view of the forest or overlooking the ski slopes, offer different themes in their individualized décor, so every visit is a new experience.
With the addition of its new Nordic spa, you can now relax and experience complete peace of mind at the hotel, even if you are not an overnight guest.
There are no crowds here, no hustle and bustle. In total serenity, you can go from hot to cold or visa versa in its waterfall; heated pool; cold-water bath, purified with sea salt; steam bath; or Finnish cedar sauna. You can even relax your aching muscles with a maple syrup massage – this is Quebec after all! For more information call 888-828-2991 or visit www.leaualabouche.com.
Relais Gourmands Restaurants
Under the direction of Chef Anne Desjardins, the restaurant at L’Eau à la bouche Hotel has been awarded an envied membership in the select Relais Gourmands worldwide group of restaurants; a sign of culinary excellence that is sparingly granted by the Relais des Chateaux chain.
Chef Desjardins has imparted her passion to her son Emmanuel and together they put their hearts into finding the best combinations of dishes and wine to produce the most refined dining experience. What more could anyone ask for? For more information, call 450-229-2991 or visit www.leaualabouche.com.
In 2006, two other restaurants were rewarded for the quality of their cuisine and became members of the Relais Gourmand. The first, L’Initiale in Old Quebec, offers guests a cordial welcome and a warm, inviting atmosphere, enhanced by Chef Yvan Lebrun’s delectable menu. For more information call 418-694-1818 or visit www.restaurantinitiale.com.
As for the second, which is located in Montreal, the innovative cuisine of chef Normand Laprise has resulted in the Toqué Restaurant being granted membership in this prestigious group of fine dining establishments. For more information call 514-499-2084 or visit www.restaurant-toque.com.
For More Information on featured Quebec Inns
Contact: Relais & Chateaux
For More Information on Quebec Tourism
Tourisme Québec (Mailing Address)
1255, rue Peel
Montréal, QC H3B 4V4
Fax: (514) 864-3188
Infotouriste Walk-In Centre
1001, Dorchester Square,
(corner Peel and Ste-Catherine Streets)
Montréal, QC H3B 4V4
Tel.: (514) 873-2015