Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Les Caprices de Victoria

Les Caprices de Victoria, Sutton's Charming B&B

By Manfried Helmuth
Les Caprices de Victoria, a four star Bed and Breakfast in Sutton, is possibly the most charming place to stay in town. The building is one of the last standing "Neo Queen Anne" structures in the townships and the 1907 structure is mostly original with the exception of a later addition to the rear of the house which is done so tastefully that it is impossible to discern where the old ends and the new begins.
Owner Maryse is a registered nurse and currently on a two month sabbatical as visiting nurse in Inukguak on the eastern coast of Hudson's bay, where she provides home care for the elderly Inuit population. Husband Michel, retired manager of many airports in Quebec and the Northwest Territories (from Whitehorse to Frobisher Bay, Baye Como and as near as St. Hubert) minds the store. in Maryse's absence.
"After I retired from managing airports, we came to Sutton to visit my brother in law and just fell in love with the town", explains Michel. "We love animals and we wanted to find a place where we would have a first class pet grooming, boarding and training facility. Then Maryse saw this B&B and that was it. She had to have it and as we like people as much as animals, I agreed to give this a try. Michel worked his airport for another year to help with the cash flow and Maryse puts in a lot of nursing in the off season but they have made this place into a magical kingdom of their own.

Michel beams with pride as he shows visitors the house and the grounds. The acreage behind the inn has a spa, a generous verandah, a bubbling stream and  vast expanses of finely landscaped land for visitors to enjoy. But the inside of the inn is breathtakling. It is cosy, warm, elegant and whimsical. This is a fairy take inn come to life, with lovely accents everywhere and every one of the five rooms superbly decorated in a totally individual style with matching color, antique furniture or reproduction claw-foot bathtubs (at more then $ 2,000 each) which evoke the period feeling while giving the desired modern comfort. Every room has a name, there is Josephine, Juliette, Charlotte, Hortense and the suite Victoria. Josephine does not have a TV, some people prefer this, but all the other rooms have them. All rooms have wireless internet access, telephone and all the required nicities of our time. All have large individual bathrooms as well.  And best of all, the room price includes all the food people can eat, from scrumptious breakasts to four or five course meals. (Prices for double occupancy range from $ 145.-for "Josephine"  to $ 174.- for the "Victoria" suite. This includes all taxes and all the great food!)
"I only buy locally produced bread, vegetables etc", states Michel. I can attest to this because as a local baker, I see him visit the bakery I work in at 6:30 on most mornings, to get his fresh maple butter croissants, Tantations or other Viennoisery the table requires that particular morning.
For a couple that had made their careers in the Arctic, met there, married there and still is very much involved there, was it hard to transition to Sutton? "Not at all", explains Michel. "We wanted a change and at first thought we might move into Western Canada but as I told you, we just fell in love with Sutton". Then he chuckled: "He who hesitates is lost. We found a place we both liked and have not regretted it and we shall enjoy this as our home and business for years to come".
Maryse and Michel had a lot to learn though. There are many laws and regulations that govern the industry, from the fact that all sheets etc. must be ironed (a Cowansville company takes care of that), to the same stringent health department regulations that govern restaurant kitchens. "As soon as a guest leaves, the room gets a complete make over, from sheets to bathrobe, soap, shampoo and the minutest cleaning of every inch of the floor. There is no shortcutting here, this would just not be acceptable".

Where do the customers come from? "Mostly they have been here before or their friends have, but our web site also helps as it is linked to Tourisme Sutton and I work close with the town and other people associated with the tourism industry in Sutton, such as the ski mountain and the "Treetop Adventure" Co-Op".
I had the opportunity to speak to a few people who have frequented the inn in the past and they love the access to the spa, the steam room, the sauna, the availability to have a massage in one of the two massage rooms, or just to sit on the beautiful balconies, a glass on wine in hand and the bucolic scenery below. Just in case they want to visit "downtown", it is a five minute walk away!

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