Words | Kevin Conroy
The long driveway feels like a primal forest lined with flowers. Then she comes into view, all stone and windows, turreted and mossy-roofed. Before you stands the French Manor.
One is struck with a sense of the majestic. Under a massive arch the door heaves open to reveal the handsome lobby. “Bienvenue!” smiles co-owner Bridget Logan Weber. “Welcome to the French Manor.”
For decades, the French Manor Inn and Spa (located in Newfoundland) has been a yardstick by which other country inns and restaurants have been measured. “The restaurant is so important,” explains owner Genevieve Logan Reese. “It supports the overall business and makes us a destination.” And while this chateau frames the elegance of Chef Adam LaFave’s dishes, to view the Manor as solely a restaurant would be a disservice.
The French Manor has for years been a Four Diamond country inn. Built in 1937 by entrepreneur Joseph Hirshhorn to curate a massive art collection, the stone-for-stone replica of a French chateau was purchased by the Logan family in 1990. The Logans enhanced the estate on a consistent basis and, in 2009, complemented the inn by including Le Spa Fôret. “The spa is a getaway for adults,” says Bridget.
Poised to arrange a relaxed, pampered, and restorative experience, Le Spa Fôret is an investment in one’s self. An elegant saltwater pool greets guests as they enter; the cedar sauna stands to one side, complete with eucalyptus water.
Inn guests and day guests alike begin at the well-appointed reception area. Essential oils are available for treatments, including patchouli. Bright changing rooms and wooden lockers await. A cozy fireside is the perfect accompaniment for a warm bamboo massage.
In the Spa Suites, massive four-poster beds host percale sheets; leather sofas expect to be relaxed in. Out on the private balconies the views are spectacular in every season, often the perfect spot for the Inn’s gourmet breakfasts, like the Healthy Riser, poached eggs served with mesclun salad tossed in extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice; and the Breakfast Parfait of fresh berries layered with yogurt and homemade vanilla almond granola. “We bring the spa experience to all our guests,” says Bridget. “At dusk, we offer tai chi on the lawn.”
In the Manor house, the Turret Suite hosts a lovely French swag bed and a sweeping, thirty-mile view. It is a spot filled with romance.
Evening dining experiences are exceptional. Under the soaring ceiling of the great room, damask-covered tables sparkle with fine china and silver. Out on the veranda, things are a bit less formal. “Even close to home, the veranda feels like miles from everywhere,” says Bridget. Either spot is an apt setting for Chef LaFave’s creativity.
“Knowing I have made people happy,” says Chef LaFave, “is the most important part of my job.” Chef’s Mer et Terre, pairing grilled venison with butter-poached lobster, shows true genius in his deconstructed béarnaise sauce of Malbec reduction, caramelized shallots, tarragon oil and cured egg yolk. All Chef LaFave’s dishes are thoughtfully presented and display a master level of creativity.
“My greatest reward is our staff,” says Genevieve. “But making the perfect match of employee’s talents to their responsibilities can be challenging.” As a result, the service is not pretentious, but courteous and helpful in every aspect of the French Manor experience.
Whether dining, lodging, or taking advantage of spa treatments, the French Manor may be the stateliest venue for life’s enjoyments.
For more information, visit www.thefrenchmanor.com.