Monday, May 26, 2008

Coming home

Seventeen years ago, when I was a fledgling bed & breakfast operator, I was invited to by a keen staffer at the Ontario Ministry of Tourism attend a meeting at Langdon Hall (near Cambridge) to discuss the challenge of marketing Ontario Country Inns and Bed & Breakfasts to the world. We were told that while we had some pretty amazing and unique properties, we could do a better job of telling our stories. I remember being so intimidated at the prospect of joining this auspicious group of seasoned hoteliers at such a prestigious property that I almost didn't make the trip. I stopped in Toronto to calm my nerves with a few drinks, and by the time I sobered up enough to make the rest of the trip, I found myself checking in to Langdon Hall at 3:00 a.m. This was my first experience in a Relais & Chateau property and I was in awe of everything, but the dining experience was beyond anything I could imagine. After many painstaking meetings, The Independent Innkeepers Association of Ontario was born, which has subsequently been rebranded as Ontario's Finest Inns & Spas. Over the years, I've had the pleasure of returning to Langdon Hall several times, and each time I feel the same sense of awe that I felt during that first visit. This week we had an opportunity to return to Langdon Hall for the first time in many years to attend a meeting of Premier Spas of Ontario. Owners Bill Bennett and Mary Beaton have worked tirelessly to create and evolve one of Ontario's finest inns - a beautiful facility where every detail has been thought of. Spacious and bedrooms outfitted with ultra luxurious beds call out your name, inducing instant relaxation. The architecture is stunning, and of course, the food is to die for. General Manager for the past seven years, Jill McGoey leads a team of warm, professional staff who create a warm, inviting ambiance like you would expect visiting wealthy relatives at their country estate, anticipating your every need. Industry icons like Bill and Mary have provided "youngens" like me and many others with the inspiration and the confidence to do what we've been able to do with the rough around the edges properties we started with. If you haven't been recently, check it out - I don't think you'll be disappointed.

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