Sunday, September 11, 2016


                    SUBLIME PLEASURES                         

for Relaxation and Recreation


Claiming one of the most coveted secluded spots at Ayer’s Cliff in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, Ripplecove Hotel and Spa instantly impresses me with its sublime site. Elegantly fanning out from the hotel is Lake Massawippi’s magnificently expansive waters.

Surrounding the lake is its very own protective companion – the Appalachian Mountains. Together they form a symbiotic symphony of natural beauty; we at Ripplecove are here to applaud it! 


   Best of all, I can savour the stunning 
   scene right from the cozy balcony of  
   my lovely room. I’m awestruck. 

Room Mystique
Most of Ripplecove’s 32 rooms (Superior, Deluxe and Suites) nestle strategically to offer serene, close-up views of the lake. All rooms are aesthetically soothing. 

 I can hear the rippling water, enjoy the birdsong in the trees, and even observe the daily visit of ducks diving at Ripplecove’s cocooned shoreline.

Ripplecove’s interior beauty

The hotel interior is a tranquil oasis warmed by antiques, paintings and lithographs.  The interior avoids grandiose pretension; rather, its assets of vintage beauty and modern amenities speak softly for themselves.

The sitting room is remarkably restful – akin to a manor library. It was one of my favourite places to just sit and ponder all the old valuable items. 100-year-old books, a rare chess set, photos of Massawippi fishing magic – all harken to a time when life’s rhythm  was as peaceful as the still life paintings hanging on  Ripplecove’s serene walls and as reassuring as the rippling lake outside. 

On the two floors, hallway nooks with darling décor and furniture also offer moments of privacy and respite for reading.

The Stafford family – a timeless legacy of love at Ripplecove

Archie and Elizabeth Stafford, the parents of Jeffrey Stafford who now owns the hotel with his wife, Debra – bought the hotel in 1945. At that time, there were no roads or electricity, but the energetic Stafford seniors didn’t mind. They were hearty warm folk who loved the outdoors, always responding to the people’s passion for fishing at Massawippi. The lake's 450-foot depth was a haven for catching huge trout, sturgeon and more; and Ripplecove, a small hotel at the time, happily housed the avid fishermen. 

A fire in 1978 turned the beloved "hotel on the cove" into ashes.  Suffice it to say Stafford resilience responded to Ripplecove's call. In 1985, the young Staffords took full ownership of Ripplecove. From fish and fire, financial acumen and fortitude came to the fore as Jeffrey and Debra greatly expanded the once cozy hotel. Not content to rest, the couple added more rooms, and a spa was built. The year was 2003. Still, I couldn't differentiate the original structure from the recent additions. Even modern amenities, including Wifi and in-room luxury can’t obstruct the visual appeal of Ripplecove’s timeless old world charm.  

The Stafford signature of love and care continues on generation after generation

Thanks largely to Debra’s impeccable design taste, every space is appealing to the eye and comfortable.  Framed patina photographs detailing family history and Ripplecove's past are displayed on every floor. 

I loved discovering them as I wandered around - a feeling of nostalgia creeping in at every corner.That home-away-from-home feeling is omnipresent.

“My wife and I wanted to carry on the spirit and style of those simpler times. Ripplecove is unique, as there is no other hotel in Quebec that has been in family for 71 years.”   Jeffrey Stafford

Is it any wonder, Ripplecove has consistently garnered the illustrious CA/AAA Four-Diamond Lodging Award, and on an annual basis since 1987!  No other hotel in the region can boast that.

Another Ripplecove diamond draw
A true Canadian landmark, Ripplecove is open year-round for four-season enjoyment. Have you ever gone ice fishing? No matter, you can get your free lesson on Saturday in front of the hotel right on the lake. How about skating on the lake and what fun for the family for winter romance to take Ripplecove’s free 2-horse sleigh-ride?

Bonfires and fishing tents, Xmas trees on the lake for happy Yuletide spirit (and to block the wind). See you on the ice!

Fabulous friendliness
I love those Ripplecove reception girls! Upon my arrival, Veronique not only welcomed me, but went to my car to fetch my luggage, took me to my second-floor room, showed me the conditioning remote, opened the big closet doors in front of my Queen-size bed to show me the big screen TV, plugged in my laptop, even typed in the password. She smiled and said: “Ms. Snipper, it’s so nice to have you here.”  Then she quickly disappeared, closing the door behind her – no interest in a tip.

I discovered just how willing the staff was to go the extra mile.
Stephanie who seems to know how to do everything at once really went the extra mile for me – and what a wet one it was! She followed me out to the beach in her pumps in order to pull the rowboat out for me. Walking on the wet sand – her pumps thoroughly beach-soaked – she gave the boat a heave-ho. There she was wearing her blue Ripplecove uniform waving me goodbye – smiling as if it was pleasant to feel wet sand inside her fancy shoes.

Thanks Stephanie!

The staff fetched one of the new bikes from the back of the lodge (they’re all new; no gear shifts, just braking), then adjusted the seat and handed me a map to direct me to the Tomifobia Trail. Finally, one of the staff walked the bike up the hill for me upon leaving.  

Upon returning to Ripplecove from Tomifobia’s gorgeous walking/bike trail, I dove into the swimming pool.

Passing on playing tennis; I was ready to do some serious dining at Ripplecove’s Riverain Restaurant.

Divine Dining at Ripplecove’s Riverain Restaurant

No matter that I was not formally dressed; Riverain – which has been garnering its own yearly Four-Diamond Award at Ripplecove since 1991 – is far more interested in creating and serving delicious cuisine rather than judging you by your clothes.  Its team is busy creating in its kitchen a sumptuous gastronomical affair.
Totally attentive without affectations, the dining staff –  expertly headed by food & beverage director and darling, Éric Bourbonnais – beams hospitality as permanent and pleasing as Lake Massawippi itself. 

Lakeside dining is assured either on the tabled terrace outside or indoors.


Bon appétit!


Joris Larigaldie, Riverain’s talented energetic chef  is so creative, his dishes not only look like ‘Daliesque’ artwork, but their colours, textures and amusing combos of surprise offer a whole new experience in savouring presentation and flavours.

Joris Larigaldie, Riverain’s talented energetic chef  is so creative, his dishes not only look like ‘Daliesque’ artwork, but their colours, textures and amusing combos of surprise offer a whole new experience in savouring bite feel and taste. I for one was thrilled with the variety of ingredients that went into some dishes.
“I interface with farmers.” His philosophy is about true to the terroir and bringing the terroir into the kitchen – utilizing local products, combining and matching them with their nearby earth relatives.  He explained: “My beef now will be smoked using the highest quality local hay.” He adds spruce/hemlock sprigs to his freshly picked parsnips – makes butter and incredible pumpkin-flavoured mini marshmallows in one of his amazing desserts. “I think food is about emotion and memory. I hope when people taste my dishes, the taste refers to something special in their past” 

Enigmatic and charming, Chef Joris combines traditional French cooking techniques and new ones to create high-end cuisine. He grew up with parents that cooked; his mom owned a restaurant in Paris, and he revealed he spent so much time in the kitchen by her side. He worked in France and England at Michelin-star restaurants, and now Riverain has snagged him. Chef Joris is exciting!

Here is a sampling of my exquisite journey into new taste sensations:  My amuse-bouche (taste teaser) was a small ball-shaped cream puff (profiterole) of lobster and fine herbs, including his daring edible hemlock needles-butter mixed in. It practically melted in my mouth. It was followed by the most awesomely amazing appetizer I have ever tasted: Albacore tuna tataki, green papaya slaw, basil and mint, maple nuoc mam (fish sauce) and peanuts. The hint of raw tuna was done with perfect balance. 

My next choice of appetizer was the confit mini parsnip from Jardin du Quartier, with parsnip puree, hazelnut butter, sea buckthorn jelly and duck jerky.  It’s criminal that someone could conceive such an outstanding cuisine concoction of incomparably wonderful textures. The small parsnips were not overcooked.

My main dish was his tender halibut – another standout. It secretly positioned a rare undercoating: a sliver-thin spread of cauliflower and truffle.

This dish came with green onion, baby lima beans and parsnips with the Jarvis touch of decorating plate corners with delightful surprises. I loved the tiny crispy inch-high sprig of fried kale demurely adorning the mela off to the side.

My meal was paired with a 2010 Chablis premier Cru Vaillons Domaine Jean Dauvissat. By the way Savigny-lès Beaune, les Guettes, Domaine Doueet-naudin (yes, the full name) was a fine balanced Chablis  Riverain has over 3000 bottles, 250 kinds of wine with over 550 labels – the oldest being a 1952 Savigny-lès Beaune, les Guettes, Domaine Doueet-naudin  (a mouthful of a name with a wallet price to match!)

Dessert brought me a tantalizing carrot cake turned up like a teepee. Sliding down its side was swooping home-made Philadelphia ice cream! Then dove into a lemon number with its own teeny tiny lemon marshmallow, wafer and unidentifiable but exquisite-to-the-taste-buds mystery sweet was unforgettable. 

Riverain’s breakfast buffet: a healthy cornucopia of fresh fruit, cereal, yogurt, a variety of addictive, melt-in-your-mouth sweet croissants and seasonal berries bulging out in a big bowl. 


You can continue the morning feast by blindfolding your eyes and pointing to the uncluttered gourmet menu. Whatever you have is going to get your tongue wagging a resounding, "mmmm"!

Make your hotel stay and/or restaurant reservations here:
or call (1-800) 668-4296.

Read about my sensational spa experience here: Ripplecove’s Arboressence Spa

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