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  1. Health & Wellness
December 18, 2023

Manoir Hovey: A French-Canadian Retreat with a Game-changing Spa

Loyal guests have visited Manoir Hovey for decades, but the newly built spa brings a new dimension to the restorative hotel.

By Becca Hensley

The skies are ink-smudge grey and the snow looks like falling feathers when I shuffle gingerly from my Spa Suite (room 23 on the corner that overlooks the infinity pool, lake and spa) to submerge in a hot tub by frozen Lake Massawippi. At remote Manoir Hovey, a five-star Relais & Châteaux estate hidden amongst dense woods in the pastoral Eastern Townships of Canada’s Quebec region, I feel like I’ve stepped right into a poem by Robert Frost.

Submerged, I don a bikini and a fur hat purchased eons ago in Kyiv and marvel at the retreat’s newly opened Spa and Thermal circuit. As the only guest hearty enough (at this moment) to be out in the weather, surrounded by rising mist, I yield to that dark purr of silence that only deep nature can offer and watch the sun set over the water. Amid the snowfall, it manifests as just the faintest blur of color in the sky. 

Somewhere in the background, somebody whispers in French, which only envelops me further in sense of place. After all, this bucolic portion of French Quebec, located nearly two hours from Montreal and just twenty minutes from the United States’ Vermont border, not only speaks French, but farms, cooks and eats with French-meets-Canadian elegance, passion and attention to detail.

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manoir hovey spa suite
 One of the new Spa Suites / ©Manoir Hovey

The acclaimed gastronomy, historic architecture and setting have brought loyal guests to family-owned Manoir Hovey for decades, and those traits will remain a draw. But the stunning newly built spa, a realm of tranquil, healthful nooks and crannies, bearer of state-of-the-art treatments, brings a new dimension to the restorative hotel. I’m positive that henceforth Manoir Hovey will also be dubbed a world-class spa destination, as well. 

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Stay

Owned and operated by The Stafford Family since 1979, helmed by husband-and-wife proprietors, Manoir Hovey embodies the romance guests hope for in a country house hotel. Spellbindingly French Canadian, both rustic and elegant, the hotel has won numerous awards both for its hospitality and its premier, acclaimed gourmet restaurant, Le Hatley. 

An all-season destination, with roaring fires in winter and water activities aplenty in summer, it’s the sort of place where people begin their evening in the library sipping drinks while they read or play a board game. Two hours from Montreal, it attracts a slew of urbanites in search of country life’s slower pace and the tranquility that emanates from the surrounding birch forests and the shimmering lake. 

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manoir hovey spa suite
 The three new Spa Suites, situated on the top floor of the spa, make for easy spa day access / ©Manoir Hovey

Each of Manoir Hovey’s 39 rooms and suites (some so large they’ve dubbed them cottages) evoke the spirit of the region and the charm of living a sylvan moment in the woods. Luxurious but not overdone, fully kitted out with contemporary high-tech amenities yet still cozy and traditional, each guest room feels like the sort of place you should book for a tryst, the kind of room where something memorable surely will happen.

For spa aficionados, the three new Spa Suites, situated on the top floor of the spa, make for easy spa day access. Their large picture windows and terraces frame jaw-dropping views, fireplaces encourage snuggling, huge Jacuzzi soaking tubs and steam showers tempt, and Toto Japanese toilets pamper. I also love the Montcalm Suite, in one of the “cottages” which lies a short walk from the spa and restaurants but provides the sense of living in your own lake house.   

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manoir hovey lounge
Manoir Hovey is the sort of place where people begin their evening in the library sipping drinks while they read or play a board game / ©Manoir Hovey

Dine

Epicureans in the know book at Le Hatley, the hotel’s superb, terroir-forward restaurant, whether staying at the inn or not. I had one of the best meals of 2023 when I ordered the Vegetarian Discovery Menu, a multi-course tasting menu that French Canadian Chef Alexandre Vachon calls “an ode to the Quebec and Canadian terroir.” Highlights were an umami-esque duck egg with Saint-Jacques sparkling sabayon and Saint-Pierre Lake caviar, a unique take on foie gras made from cashews, and a crazy rich and contrasting dark chocolate dessert accented with bell and gorria peppers.

A traditional Discovery Menu offers a range of local bounty from bison to rabbit, as well. Breakfast at Le Hatley also makes an impression with a starter “Discovery Plate” that includes a sampling of house-made charcuterie and local cheese and an entree of your choice, such as eggs benedict.

The bread is made in-house with locally milled flour and syrup on the table hails from the hotel’s own birch trees. Most guests enjoy lunch at Le Tap Room Bistro, a moody pub-like space with specialties such as a towering Quebec Wagyu burger and first-in-class lobster roll. Both restaurants harbor top-notch sommeliers and share an enviable wine library with more than 750 labels from 22 countries.

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Relax

LE SPA relaxation room
Just-launched Le Spa Manoir Hovey makes this idyllic hotel all the more perfect / ©Manoir Hovey

Just-launched Le Spa Manoir Hovey makes this idyllic hotel all the more perfect. Spreading 9,000 sq ft, the spa incorporates three healing levels adjacent to the hotel’s main house on a hill that overlooks the lake. Edging it, a forest adds a soulful atmosphere.

Providing a Nordic thermal experience, the spa features six treatment rooms, three relaxation rooms with the most comfortable loungers imaginable and views of the lake, a sauna with a picture window that showcases the water, a Hamman, a Saskatchewan pink salt shower experience, cold plunge pool, and a chic suite for manicures and pedicures.

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This is the sort of spa where you actually do want to go hours before your treatment to partake of amenities such as the open-air pool deck equipped with fire pits, a heated pool, Jacuzzis and a cabana bar. An indoor/outdoor adventure for any season, Le Spa follows the philosophy of cold contrast therapy to boost well-being, increase circulation and promote detox.

Gorgeous with cheerful floral wallpaper, stone, wood and artwork by Quebec artist Yechel Gagnon, the spa’s design also pays homage to Manoir Hovey’s history. Look for whimsical architectural elements from the estate’s original 1899 facade. Don’t miss the Hovey’s Honey Bliss signature skincare treatment that uses reishi mushrooms, snow and honey from the hotel’s own hives.

Spa Suites from $750, manoirhovey.com

manoir hovey spa
 Le Spa follows the philosophy of cold contrast therapy to boost well-being, increase circulation and promote detox / ©Manoir Hovey

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