First a little bit of history. We first heard about this hotel through the story of an investor in the Baie St-Paul countryside who bought (what might be) the biggest farm in the Charlevoix region a couple of years ago. Soon after, the whole campus was on fire and as we were wandering into the great nothingness while looking for a reason, we decided to discover for ourselves through a week-end. We were so curious as to why such a thing would happen, particularly while promoting so much the environmentally friendly concept and the local products, but then after visiting the site we finally understood. The location is just outstanding. The card of contemporary refinement has been played in a very bold manner in this about to be first of three stages of a gargantuan investment representing this touristic mega project named Le Massif de Charlevoix. So we got in, full of curiosity!
The weather. Very nice, sunny July weather at 23 degrees with some scattered clouds here and then.
The Train. We planned to arrive at 10h15 because we decided to get to the mountain by rail and the train was leaving at 11h00. The terminal is located in one of the many wings of this complex so we parked the car and went to buy tickets and after waiting in line for nearly 20 minutes we were told we could not pay with anything else than raw cash. No cards accepted, despite having no indication of this inconvenience whatsoever. We rushed to find an ATM, withdrawn a hundred, paid almost 5 bucks in fees, then got back in line. The cost is around 85$ for two adults round trip. We finally got on board at 10h57, finding a train that has pretty much the same look and feel as a ski-purposed train you can take for more than ten times cheaper throughout Europe, what's more it should be called a tramway looking at the very low speed this vehicle is traveling. The route of this train is cutting through woods, completely wiping out the otherwise sound and peaceful environment with chalets and summer cottages scattered here and then, some even have only solar panels to get their energy... just to tell how much we felt bad and usurping to be on this new, noisy train. Nonetheless it took more than 45 minutes to travel about 20 kilometers then we arrived at the mountain.
The Mountain. We decided to walk one of the three available hiking path, an intermediate trail named La Promenade. Oh my god the trail. Still in construction, you have to pass through mechanical diggers, people cutting trees with chain saws, four-wheelers borrowing this path made of an irregular blend of sand and rocks, etc. etc. let me tell you this is definitely not the kind of things which come to mind when you go to the mountain to take a walk, especially at this price. We went to the top anyway and the view is average. We had a lunch, relaxed, took half an hour laid back, bathing in the sun, and initiated our journey back to the hotel.
The Hotel. So we got back to the hotel around 16h, finding a beautifully designed room and furnitures. Despite several stains on the walls and the lack of a fridge (we were told this is because having a fridge in a room is not environmentally friendly and this is excluded from the concept), we appreciated having a Nespresso coffee machine and a very comfortable bed. The air conditioning is very quiet, the Philips radio is filling the room with quality sound (to which you can charge 2 iPhones at the same time) and having the ability to hook the iPad to the TV was a great feature away from home, we had a great time looking at pictures while sipping a delicious (N)espresso. A lot of attention has been put into details (even the sheets in the bed have a wooden pattern woven in it), making the room a very nice place to stay. The mattress and the pillows are very comfortable, almost as much as in a W. The shower is very nice and provide with enough space for two. However the separated WC does not have any fan nor offer much privacy, so beware if it's a first date. There is also no flatiron, and a lot of other contradictions, I mean almost 90% of the things you see in the room are made in China or elsewhere in Asia. For the rest one can only assume, in the absence of indication, that the (remained to be proven) concept rules for what remains to be made in Canada.
The restaurants. After a nice refreshing shower we decided to go share a pre-dinner drink at Le Bercail. Very nice, cosy atmosphere where you don't easily feel near the other guests' discussions. You soon realize the 0rgy of materials taking place in the surroundings, slowly slipping into this blend between the contemporary fad (I mean fad, not line of design) and the urban one with minimal, abstract textures. The generally orthogonal geometry is filled with several organic and rustic elements which punctuate the space, which I agree would otherwise feel vast anyway. The curtain walls do feature a great connection with the outdoors and the omnipresence of wood puts the guest closer to nature and install a nice suggestion in the guest's mind where he can unwind without being fazed. The service is quick, and our waiter was relaxed though not too familiar, and made us nice suggestions. I took a dark local beer and my spouse took what I consider to be the most sophisticated cosmopolitan I have ever tasted. We paid (27$ tip included) and walked up the stairs towards the main venue, Les Labours. We've been assigned a little (not tiny) table in a busy corridor while I remember asking for a rather calm section. It took about 10 minutes before someone came to offer us beverages. After 25 minutes we finally placed our orders from a menu that was completely different from the one on the website and featured no "table d'hôte". Soon after we were presented with our wine choice, an 85$+ bottle which content was too cold. We did not wait too long before our appetizer came. I ordered the pulled duck on a barley bed with dijon mustard and my spouse the snails in a parsley & garlic cream. It was delicious, temperature was ok, ingredients felt fresh, but the textures and the visual aspect really needs research and improvement. Meanwhile the wine increased at most one degree. The pause was just properly respected before we were presented with the main dish. I ordered the magret de canard and my spouse the macreuse de boeuf. Although both were very tasty and delicious and the wine choice (though still cold) was very nice, one weird thing I found was that they took the very same ingredient and preparation (the barley) to make the presentation for both my appetizer and my main dish. We were aware that we were definitely not in a Michelin starred institution nor welcomed by Gordon Ramsay this evening, but again research should be considered and embraced by the chef. We were given time to finish the (still cold at this point) velvet wine without being interfered, after which we ordered a chocolate conclusion for two with each a double espresso. We finished everything in beauty with a grappa and it was a very nice, delicate one. We paid (280$ tip included) and got out for a walk, getting around the campus, taking pictures and having fun before returning to the room where we had a really nice night of sleep.
Next morning, we discovered the breakfast was not included. We paid 35$ for two one-egged-one-choice of meat with bread-without-butter dish. Painful even if service was really quick.
The Spa. 20 bucks each guest + I don't remember how much for the massage.
The swimming pool. Closed for maintenance.
The Feeling. Nice stay overall, though our curiosity has been fulfilled with a bitter aftertaste as if there was some stellar kind of hoax or something, happening in the campus. Maybe it's about the origins, maybe it's the mostly indifferent, nonchalant indoctrinated staff you encounter.
Then the Bill, capital B. You take your Bill, find out you have been severely taxed by the sly hyp0crites from the Quebec government for this journey, from whom you receive the complimentary gift of the fabulous hidden 3% provincial tax on lodging, over which are applied other taxes like the 5% GST and the 9.98% QST - a good way to tax their own taxes). Difficult to stay calm.
The Opinion. An expensive soup topped with breadcrumbs and local cheese, prepared by a seemingly untrained fanfare, telling questionable stories about the recipe of a nice supporting architectural design broth which evaporates rather quickly, unravelling into the dubious reality of a beautiful expensive container containing nothing really special or extraordinary.
The Question. How long this group will be able to milk the cow at this price?
- Also Known As:
- Hotel La Ferme Baie-St-Paul, Quebec
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- La Ferme is a major cultural and social gathering place. On lively public squares, locals mingle guests hailing from all parts and staying at the hotel.Here the region’s growers and producers display their savoir-faire with mouth-watering delicacies brimming forth from the Charlevoix’s flavour-rich terroir. A multifunctional venue is set to welcome movie and show enthusiasts, while convention-goers and the corporate world are sure to be well taken care of in the projected ultramodern facilities. Hotel clients must pay $20 for acces to the Spa du Verger ... more less
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