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A few months ago, I stumbled upon a relevant and inspiring article in the Les Affaires newspaper, which suggested ideas to move today’s Québec forward. I reacted to some of the content. Here are my thoughts on the proposed ideas.

Breaking the Male Entrepreneurship Pattern

I like the idea of men going on parental leave longer than the usual 5-week paternity leave. In theory, the parental leave can be shared between the mother and her partner, but let’s face it: men who request weeks or months of parental leave are rarely perceived positively by their employers. What is so disturbing about it? Is it the fact that men are still typically assuming the role of family providers? Or the fact that men are most often responsible for making decisions in companies? Maybe it has to do with parental leave being mistakenly interpreted as “time off,” still today. I do not have children, yet this leads me to reflect on gender equity in 2019.

With the enhancement of women entrepreneurship, maybe Québec will take another look at the sharing of responsibilities, and not only in the workplace context.

Selena Lu

And just like Selena Lu, President of the Jeune chambre de commerce de Montréal, put it, we might have to resort to incentive measures and mandatory standards to achieve change. For instance, companies that are reluctant to grant parental leave to men could be reprimanded by the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité au travail (CNESST). Will public registries, fines and judgments be necessary to change mentalities?

Corporate Collaboration

It cannot be repeated too often: alone we go faster; together we go further. I would add that we are also stronger together. I firmly believe in this saying, particularly between companies. And for those who had the opportunity to stay at Hôtel Château Bellevue, maybe you are already familiar with our Treasure chest . By fostering corporate partnerships with other tourism establishments, we offer our guests the best way to discover Québec City. Our front desk team often suggests restaurants and boutiques within walking distance.

Also, as a member of Ôrigine Artisans Hôteliers, formerly known as Hôtellerie Champêtre, we are part of a network of establishments (lodging, food and activities) that offer an authentic, high-quality experience. By promoting this network, we allow tourists from here and abroad to discover our culture. Cooperating companies, especially in the tourism industry, can remain competitive on the global market in a relative labour shortage context.

No Political Partisanship

Politics are widely present in Québec, both in projects that make the province progress and in topics for debate. I believe that a sound solution to minimize the effects of political partisanship would be to invest in the continuous education of citizens of all ages, regardless of their social class. This would allow everyone to have a less biased opinion and to advance as a society.

If the Members of the National Assembly took the time to listen to the people (individuals, groups and businesses), without delivering electoral promises at all costs, which are often times not unanimously accepted by the population prior to the coming into power of their party, maybe we would make fairer choices for society.

Make no mistake: this is not open criticism of the current government. It is a simple opinion, inspired by Claude Béland’s article in the Les Affaires newspaper. I am not disillusioned with regards to politics. On the contrary, I believe that we can change things for the better with our municipal, provincial and federal leaders. I said it, and I believe it: strength lies in numbers, and we are stronger together!

Waste Reduction and Economy

Not so long ago, I wrote about the importance I attach to the environment. Our company’s Green Committee implements initiatives to reduce our environmental footprint. These corporate decisions enable us to have a positive impact on the short and long term. Even the simplest solutions can help change our consumption behaviour. For instance, we put together an internal marketplace at the hotel for employees to exchange—or sell at a low price—secondhand goods and clothes. I can only encourage this kind of team effort. And I must admit, their sincere interest to make a difference for the environment and for circular economy makes me feel proud.

For my part, I continue to hope that, maybe soon, we will find a simple way to integrate composting into our business practices. There is a manifest interest. All that’s left is to find the right way of doing it, in a physical location that is traditionally not suited for composting. Maybe we will achieve this through the resourcefulness of companies like Tero (https://teroproducts.com) or other local enterprises. Who knows? Maybe my interest is shared by other shops and restaurants nearby. It might be a good idea to make it a community-based, sustainable solution.

I also think that composting and recovering our residual materials to generate energy (biomethanization, for instance) should not be calculated as a monetary investment from which we should expect to reach a quick ROI. It is a long-term challenge, and the money investment required to overcome it should be calculated accordingly. One person’s waste could thus become another person’s raw material, therefore promoting circular economy. Solucycle, a local business that invests in the management and recovery of food waste at the source, is a real-world applicability example.

A Bank of Managers for Business Takeovers

There is an alarming lack of corporate succession. I am particularly sensitive to this matter given my implication with the Centre de transfert d’entreprise du Québec, but also because I am an example of corporate succession.

We have to find ways to create a keen interest in business ownership transfers and to inform people of the available tools and places for learning. Here in Québec City, the École d’entrepreneuriat de Québec promotes its business transfer program for SMEs. Maybe by making the connection with bold young people, starting from the time where all their career dreams are still possible, we could put together a bank of candidates for corporate succession. Can promotion campaigns in college schools and universities be potential solutions?

Or, in the opposite, given the ageing population, why not attract seasoned managers getting close to retirement, and let them be a part of this bank of candidates, as mentors?

The entrepreneurial journey is thrilling. We have to encourage more people to take over our companies before they are bought by foreign entities.

Anyhow, the Québec of tomorrow is in our hands, and we must make the right decisions, both individually and collectively. Companies, stakeholders and elected representatives need to work hand-in-hand to move our society forward. It’s really exciting to see all the challenges we have to face; it is up to us to find solutions for the benefit of the Québec society. How about you? What potential solutions inspire you?

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When I speak of my town with people who do not live in it, I paint Québec City as a city of culture. There are many opportunities to discover free artistic endeavours, for all ages. In the summer, events mainly take place outside in the various parks. When the cool season arrives, we can benefit from pop-up spots or indoor cultural activities.

My favourite art forms are indisputably music, theatre and visual arts. But I must admit, music is present in my daily life, and it has been for quite a while now. The taste—the genuine interest—for arts develops at a very young age. And when it has been tasted, it’s hard to remain indifferent. But we do have to live cultural experiences to understand all their richness.

Crédit photo: Jean Cazes – Mon Limoilou

Québec City has us covered with a diversified offer (mainly during summer) including many free opportunities (e.g. the Edwin-Bélanger bandstand, events such as neighbourhood parties, and the FEQ (Québec Summer Festival), with its cœur du FEQ section. Place d’Youville is also a good spot to visit several times a year, allowing for the discovery of awesome artists. The benefit of free events is that they often showcase pleasant and surprising musical encounters. Open-mindedness helps to get caught off guard, without any expectation. It’s often times under such circumstances that I come out dazzled.

I occasionally challenge myself to live experiences out of the box. I tried opera, among other things. I’ll confess, it was not love at first sight but I would like to try again in a few years. This desire to step out of my comfort zone has once pushed me to give modern dance a try. What I learned resulted in a better understanding of this art discipline, which now shines another light on this type of dance.

Let’s not forget that, only a few years ago, major symphony orchestras (Orchestre Symphonique de Québec and Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal) mounted a charming campaign aimed at a younger audience. It proved so successful that to this day, their concerts with guest musicians make me rush to the venues. I think of OSQ concerts with guest musician Richard Desjardins, or Cowboys Fringants, of which I cherish fond memories.

Crédit photo: Antoine Saito

As you might have guessed, I am a big fan of FEQ since our affiliated hotel—Hôtel Château Laurier Québec—vibrates to the rhythm of that festival, quite literally. My love of FEQ started at a very young age. At around five years old, my parents would take my little sister and I to the festival to experience the particular realities of a concert. Our initiation into shows before live audiences has been done at a fairly early stage in life.

Festival d’été de Québec

One memorable concert for me was Les Colocs at the Havre-aux-Maisons civic centre in Îles-de-la-Madeleine, in 1995. I had become fully aware of the close relationship artists maintain with their audience. In addition to the words and melodies sung by both the assistance and the band, I felt a strong connection that could only last for one night. You have to be there, at that very moment, to grasp it. Just like when we say to others, “I was there myself!”

Les Colocs

More recent events have marked my life:

The Cat Empire’s 2013 concert in Montreal: I love to dance, get carried away, live life to its fullest during the show. And at that particular moment, I could not help but let the party get to me.

Florence and the Machine at the Osheaga Festival in 2015: the lead singer runs across the stage, gives all she can, and abandons herself to an act of communion with the audience. It inspires me: this mutual respect between the artist and the assistance.

Florence and The Machine – Osheaga 2015

To me, attending a concert, a show or a popular event such as these is worth the cost. I see it as an investment into a unique experience that will fill me with happiness. I must admit, I plan my budget accordingly so I can attend a certain number of concerts in a year.

Gabrielle Shonk is a favourite of mine that still surprises me to this day. While I enjoy her vocal versatility, I rediscovered her under a new light, during the Québec Jazz Festival last June. Boasting a jazz voice training, she had all it took to join six other extraordinary singers (including the great Sheila Jordan) and give us seven generations of jazz singers. I have seen this show and my heart is still filled with emotion. I recently went back to see her at the Imperial and, once again, she managed to impress the audience. This time with several new songs and creative collaborations with various guest musicians such as Matt Holubowski. I express a small pride in knowing that, like me, she is from Québec City.

When I am not the one discovering new artists, friends sometimes ask me to join them to see a musician or a band, known or yet to be. My favourite artists vary depending on the findings. I always had a little something for world music (those who know me know my fondness for Latin rhythms). I also like francophone music, but not exclusively that which adheres to the conventions of our beautiful language. I love pluriculturalism. I enjoy hearing a Charlotte Cardin who goes from song to song alternating between French and English. I like a Loud who intersperses his prose with present-day expressions and idioms. The Festival d’été de Québec and Osheaga Festival allow me to quench my thirst for emerging music, and to discover new artists and sounds.

Crédit photo: Mathieu Arsenault

I like to keep an open mind in regards to different musical genres: each of them carries the intensity of the performer/audience relationship. Besides, it pays to open up to the musical tastes of peers. At Hôtel Château Bellevue, we grant considerable freedom to guests regarding the musical atmosphere. We thus customize the experience for both those who enjoy their stay and those who work here on a daily basis. Next time you pay us a visit, lend your ear and try to recognize the song playing upon entering the hall. If you are curious, you might as well try to guess whose special request it was. The reception clerk’s? The housekeeping attendant’s? The guests who enjoy a drink in the hall, in awe before Old Québec’s autumn scenery? Who knows…?

In the end, I hope I have instilled the desire to share your musical favourites—those that inspire you in both your personal and professional lives. For my part, autumn is tinted with culture! In a next post, I will share my impressions on the brand new Le Diamant venue, which recently opened in Old Québec.

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Québec’s hotel scene has a whole lot of history, including some gems that have been in operation for over 100 years. It’s inspiring, considering all the changes our old capital has undergone since its foundation, and also rather rare to see well-established hotels continue to grow and thrive over the decades.

Hôtel Château Bellevue’s most popular neighbor, the famous Château Frontenac, recently celebrated its 125th anniversary. A host of events highlighting this enviable achievement wrapped up on December 18, 2018, the date of the anniversary. Far from harbouring any jealousy over its longevity, I was more interested in what Hôtel Château Bellevue would be like when it turned 125, and my imagination began to wander. You have to agree that the views from Hôtel Château Bellevue’s rooms inspire the imagination…

Why not start from where we are right now after 33 years of hotel hospitality (my family acquired the premises in 1986), and look back on what was accomplished long before I began running the hotel? Our street, Rue de la Porte, has a rich family history that predates the hotel establishment you’re familiar with today. From the outside, you can see there were once four different adjacent houses. Today, these houses form a whole: our Hôtel Château Bellevue. Before my family bought the premises in 1986, here’s what was behind each of these addresses:

10, rue de la Porte : Manoir Laurentien

12, rue de la Porte : Castel du Parc

14, rue de la Porte :  Manoir Laporte

16, rue de la Porte : Château Normandie, and later on Manoir Bellevue

While we know a little bit about what was behind these doors, I’m curious to know more about these small hotels that seem to have vanished from our collective memory. Could one of my readers or guests have already stayed at one or the other before we created the Hôtel Château Bellevue that we know today?

I like to know where we come from to gain a better understanding of where we’re going. Did you know that until 1997, our street was called Rue Laporte? It wasn’t in honour of someone named Laporte, but rather in reference to a door in a fortification that no longer exists. That’s why, a little over 20 years ago, the name was changed to Rue de la Porte, which literally means “the Door Street.” The houses that dominate the Jardin des Gouverneurs, formerly doors 10 to 16, form part of the rental houses that were built at the request of the widow of Simon Peters (http://www.patrimoine-culturel.gouv.qc.ca/rpcq/detail.do?methode=consulter&id=7868&type=pge#.XL94TulYaCo) at the beginning of the 20th century. Those houses have served as accommodation for tourists and travellers every since they were first built, which I find very interesting. And if the name Simon Peters doesn’t ring a bell, then maybe if I mention that he was the architect behind the gorgeous Domaine Cataraqui you may want to know a little more about him. Anyway, I digress…

The accomplishments of the previous generations of Girard have inspired me to continue growing the hotel in keeping with the family tradition, but also with an eye to current industry practices. Ever since we opened, we’ve been very conscious of the privilege and good fortune of being located in what is the heart of Old Québec. It seems only natural that in moving forward, we will continue to focus on our stellar location, the peacefulness of the area, and the warm welcome we offer all our guests.

Today, it’s an honour to continue my father’s work and uphold the company’s family values, but with a contemporary focus on quality. Looking at the latest trends in the hotel industry, I was delighted to see we are in line with many other hotels that focus on the trends frequently mentioned. I wrote about my concern for the environment and the practical steps taken to do our bit for sustainable development in a recent article. Also, I like to remind people that our guests enjoy their comfortable rooms at Hôtel Château Bellevue, but they come for the overall travel experience.

“Experience” culture must never be abandoned in favor of technology designed to increase the speed and efficiency of an accommodation service. Obviously these values and approaches were passed on to me by my father and grandfather, so they mean a lot to me. Like our 125-year-old neighbor, Hôtel Château Bellevue’s heritage isn’t just about the architecture and the decor—it’s about the warm welcome and personalized service of our dedicated staff. Don’t expect to be greeted by a robot butler at Hôtel Château Bellevue anytime soon. Technology may be evolving quickly, but our human values and personal touch will always come first.

Looking further ahead, I can already see a new generation mindful of maintaining the character and family spirit of our hotel. With technology omnipresent in the decades ahead, we can and must do our utmost to bring a more human touch to our services, coupled with an unwavering desire to always do better. Future travellers may experience less personal warmth and hospitality on their journeys, even in a destination as friendly as Québec City. At Hôtel Château Bellevue, I like to think that we’ll always be a welcoming and comforting place to stay.

Lastly, I would be proud to see our well-earned, but once secretly-guarded, reputation for classic Québec hospitality continue. I want to see the same glint of pride in the eyes of our staff—whether they’re a member of the Girard family or an employee looking to move into management—that comes from knowing they’ve helped grow the hotel over the years, without ever forgetting the warm hospitality that sets us apart.

As Hôtel Château Bellevue moves towards its own 125th anniversary, I encourage you to go in and visit the Château Frontenac this year (if you haven’t already). I’m sure you know it well from the outside, but take the time to admire the splendor behind its doors. With a guided tour, you’ll get a true insider’s view of our city’s legendary hospitality.

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It has been on my mind for a while now to pay tribute to my dad, Alain Girard, one day. And so I’ve decided that day is today, for no particular reason other than I wish to thank him and tell you what he means to me.

Those who know him will tell you that Alain is one of the guys—he’s generous, kind, and loyal to his friends. He’s not always diplomatic and sometimes expresses his opinions a little too passionately, but that’s mostly because he’s very straightforward. He’s not out to hurt anyone—my father is big-hearted, gentle, open, and fair. He always listens to the men and women sharing his life.

Alain has always been a bold developer with a good sense for business. I think he has an artisan’s soul because he really loves what he does and wants to do the best job he can, no matter how much time or effort it takes. He gets great satisfaction out of a job well done and seeing things through. He has passed those values on to me. I’m grateful to him for it, because they continue to guide my life and career today.

Another one of my dad’s qualities I find admirable is his humility. He has a lot of knowledge, experience, and success, but is still perfectly happy to step aside and let others take the lead. Since I took over the general management of Hôtel Château Laurier Québec, he has patiently let me prove myself, without taking over or being offended when I assert myself and stick to my guns when we disagree. In a world where many people are arrogant about the smallest accomplishments, Alain is an inspirational example of modesty.

Another facet of Alain’s personality I admire is his passion for music and the visual arts. Not only does he have the soul of an artisan, but the soul of an artist, who knows how to take a beat and marvel at the details of a work of art or the beauty of a sunset.

It’s hard to talk about my dad without thinking about my mom and sister, who have—and continue—to put up with two hotel enthusiasts talking way too much about work at family get-togethers.

Fortunately, patience is one of my mom Suzanne’s many good qualities. She values teamwork and understands what the close working relationship my father and I have means to us. My mom has always been there for us—she gives good advice and we can always turn to her when we need someone to talk to. She’s curious about everything and isn’t afraid to experiment. She’s also a big fan of the arts and we owe our taste in theater to her and interest in all things to do with esthetics and decor. She knows what she likes and has very sophisticated taste.

This December, I’d like to wish my father an early happy birthday. He’ll add another year of experience to his resumé this January. Like all of us, he may be getting older, but he’s still young at heart, passionate about projects at work, and looking to the future.

I’d like to wish all of you a wonderful holiday season—I hope you get to spend it surrounded by your family, friends, and everyone near and dear to you.

I look forward to meeting you during your stay in Québec City. Maybe we’ll cross paths at Hôtel Château Bellevue, our charming hotel in the heart of Old Québec. Château Bellevue looks especially romantic in the winter, with its historic façade covered in snow. Inside, the magnificent view of the river and the historic surroundings combined with the comfort of the hotel’s modern amenities make it a peaceful, intimate, warm, and cozy haven.

Enjoy your stay in Québec City, and wherever you are, Happy New Year!

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Everyone’s talking about the labor shortage, and our industry is no exception! Working at hotels and restaurants can be exciting enough, but it can also be demanding.

It’s true that most of the people we deal with are in a happy mood—they’re loving their stay in quaint Old Quebec in charming accommodations like our Hôtel Château Bellevue, they’re pleased with their business meetings at our comfortable Hôtel Château Laurier Québec in the heart of town, or they’re amazed at what our caterer George V can do to make their weddings or conferences unforgettable events. But the fact remains that we’re open 24/7, and that can be a tall order.

We have a wide range of positions to fill, including reception, housekeeping, maintenance, kitchen, bakery, event setup and teardown, concierge, valet, accounting, marketing, and sales jobs, all of which require availability, commitment, attention to detail, and the ability to deal properly with suppliers and clients, often in a second language or in difficult situations.

All too often, these jobs are misunderstood and undervalued. Sure, we make it look easy, but that’s an illusion—we’re actually hard at work behind the scenes. It’s not computer engineering or neuroscience, but these jobs are worth their weight in gold because they allow our society to attract and accommodate tourists who, year after year, contribute almost $10 billion to Quebec’s economy, more than half of which comes from outside the province.

So it can be frustrating to see how little interest some public and broader public organizations show in recruiting and training workers to fill these positions. But as employers, we also share some responsibility.

Recruitment is a never-ending process for us. We’re always on the lookout for qualified people interested in working at our establishments. For students, our main approach is internships that provide valuable on-the-job training. Fortunately, a number of schools have set up co-op programs specifically for this purpose. Of course, taking on interns requires preparation, so our Front Desk Mannager has taken training at the Fierbourg vocational training center to make sure the experience students get is in line with the school’s expectations and to maximize the value of their diplomas upon graduation.

However, finding workers to fill these positions is a real struggle at the moment, especially for baking and pastry jobs. In addition to Quebec educational institutions, it’s become abundantly clear that we’re going to have to look abroad to meet our recruitment needs. For that to work, those in charge of setting immigration rules, recruiting workers from outside the country, and issuing work permits will have to be much more sensitive to the needs of our industry and, in turn, companies will have to do more and invest more to integrate immigrant employees who choose to start a new life and career in Quebec. That’s how I see it at least, and I think we’ll be participating more and more in activities held by organizations such as Québec International in order to make sure our needs and expectations are better understood.

The size and family atmosphere of our facilities make them pleasant and friendly places to work, and they offer very competitive job conditions to boot. We’re doing more and more to promote our company and to highlight our quality work environment and atmosphere, and we encourage our employees to recommend relatives and friends who might be interested in joining us. Despite all the benefits and all our efforts, and despite being in a relatively good position compared to other companies, nearly half of our housekeeping and accommodations staff has been with us for less than 18 months. It’s clear that if we want to continue developing new tourism markets, we’re going to have to act quickly to develop new ways of attracting staff.

There are many ways to attract people who would be happy to work and make a career in our industry. Internships, great work conditions, immigrant integration programs, and technology (for repetitive tasks) are among the many solutions we will have to consider to further the growth of our company, the region, and Quebec as a whole.

If you know anyone looking to work at a hotel or restaurant in Québec City and who wants a nice, friendly workplace, by all means refer them to our human resources manager, Yannick Savard, who will be glad to answer all their questions.

Thank you and until next time!

 

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Have you ever taken Côte de la Montagne down to the Old Port while a cruise ship is docked at Pier 21? The view is breathtaking! You can really see just how big these giants of the sea are and why Québec City is such a highlight for cruise ship passengers, whether they’re starting or ending their trip here or simply stopping over.

While Québec City has a long tradition of welcoming ships that call at its port, efforts have been made over the past 20 years to make the city a more popular point of embarkation and disembarkation so cruise ship passengers can extend their stay and take full advantage of all Québec City has to offer.

Cruise ship passengers are blown away by the beauty and historical charm of the city. Most of the guests we welcome at Hôtel Château Bellevue are Americans traveling solo who come from as far away as California to see the St. Lawrence River and learn about Québec City’s history. They generally jump at the chance to explore the city at their own pace before their cruise leaves or when they get back. They can use the down time to hang out with friends, meet other travelers, and enjoy every last minute of their getaway, since Hôtel Château Bellevue is less than 2 km from the cruise terminal.

Québec City welcomes all kinds of cruises and, while September and October remain the most popular months thanks to the stunning multicolored scenery in the fall, the cruise season is getting longer and longer. The first ships now arrive in Québec City in early May and the last set sail in early November.

Over the years, new markets have opened up and we’ve been seeing a lot of new cruise ship passengers. This year, the Disney Magic cruise ship will be calling on September 26 and is sure to make headlines as the Port of Québec rolls out the red carpet for the 2,700 passengers who will be disembarking in Québec City for the first time. Not to mention the Sea Princess, Queen Mary 2, and Adventure of the Seas cruise ships, which are sure to bring admirers and residents from the greater Québec City area into town just to marvel at them.

The arrival of these ships is a spectacle in itself, but many companies and businesses in the region also rely on the economic activity it generates. The results of the 2017 Canada-wide study, The Economic Contribution of the International Cruise Industry in Canada showed that the average expenditure for a cruise ship passenger in Québec City was approximately $177, while crew members each spend about $39, for a total of $19 million in spending. The study also found that between 40 and 45% of cruise ship passengers surveyed in Québec had started or ended their cruise at a Québec port, rather than port in the U.S. or the Maritimes. Furthermore, cruise ship passengers were extremely satisfied with the welcome they received from locals, rating it 9.4 out of 10. In 2016 the Québec City region welcomed 151,500 of the 349,900 passengers who visited one of Québec’s ports.

Québec City has everything cruise ship passengers are looking for: 51% of passengers come from the U.S. (California and Florida), 24% come from Europe (Germany and England), and the average age is 64. The ships dock in the city center, which makes it easy for passengers to get around. The city is safe, so they can wander around worry-free and return to the ship on foot at any time of the day or night.

Québec City also has an array of accommodations, restaurants, attractions, shops, and boutiques that are just the ticket for discerning visitors who value beauty and quality. Cruises provide a snapshot of the best that Québec City has to offer, which explains why about one-third of cruise ship passengers say they intend to return to Québec City within three years of their cruise. We’re seeing more and more cruise ship passengers at Hôtel Château Bellevue and we believe this is just the beginning since cruises have been steadily growing in popularity in recent years.

In the meantime, head down to the Old Port to watch one of these cruise ships drop anchor or set sail. You can view the schedule here. If you’re anything like me, the enormous white ships will make you feel like you’re on vacation too!

I hope you have a great rest of summer and a bright start to fall!

Talk to you soon!

Aude Lafrance-Girard

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Any time you head into Old Québec—whether via Grande Allée in Upper Town or Boulevard Champlain in Lower Town—you’ll quickly see that Québec City is chock full of green spaces. From private lots to balconies decked out with hanging planters, public squares, and major thoroughfares, everywhere you look there’s greenery, gorgeous trees, and a profusion of flowers setting off Québec City’s distinctive architecture.

I have my own personal favorite spots for jogging, picnicking, or just sitting down to have an ice cream, read a book, or simply enjoy the moment. Bois-de-Coulonge park is one such spot.

This park located on the west end of Grande Allée has a long history dating back to the 17th century. The 24 hectare space (which has changed names a few times, from châtellenie de Coulonge to Spencer Wood and then Bois-de-Coulonge) was the site of the lieutenant governor’s residence until it burned down in 1966, and has been used as a public park since 1970.

What I love about Bois-de-Coulonge is that it’s perfect for so many outdoor activities all year round. You can ski, snowshoe, or take part in sugar shack activities in winter, and take long walks to admire the tulips and many varieties of rhododendrons and azaleas in the spring. The wide open spaces are great for kicking soccer balls or throwing Frisbees with friends, while the shady paths are a real lifesaver whenever I go jogging on hot summer days. The many mature trees and the view of the river and Anse au Foulon Marina also make it a fabulous place to visit in the fall. Whether you’re into sports or enjoying the great outdoors, this park is sure to keep you coming back for more.

As a resident of Old Québec, I have a couple spots I really like going to. The first is Cavalier-du-Moulin park. It’s a hidden gem located at the end of Rue Mont-Carmel, next to the Québec conservatory for dramatic arts. I mainly go there to get away from it all in its calm and serene atmosphere. It’s the perfect spot to have a picnic, chat with friends, read, daydream, or take a quick nap. Since the space was part of the fortifications under the French Regime, its elevated position offers a unique vantage point over Old Québec and the areas around the citadelle. So I encourage you to check it out—but you might just want to keep this little secret between you and your closest friends…

My second favorite park in Old Québec is Bastion-de-la-Reine, specifically Terrasse St-Denis on the east side of the park. This park, which is part of the Plains of Abraham and borders the Citadelle of Québec’s glacis, offers a stunning view of lively Rue St-Denis in the foreground, as well as Promenade Dufferin, the St. Lawrence River all the way out to Île d’Orléans, and Château Frontenac, which  dominates the unique urban landscape. Whether it’s at sunrise, in the middle of the day, or at that magic hour as the sun goes down and the city lights flicker on, this view never ceases to amaze and move me.

I suggest coming first thing in the morning or in early evening for the most enchanting views. If you’re a photo buff and you want to capture a lasting memory of Québec City, this spot is a definite must. If you are staying at Hôtel Château Bellevue (link: https://search.iqrez.com/reservations/HotelChateauBellevue/search/?lang=en), feel free to ask our staff how to get to Terrasse St-Denis—it’s only 3 minutes from the hotel.

I know there are other parks and gardens in Québec City I could have told you about, but there’s so many it’s hard to choose! And they all have their own atmospheres and activities to meet virtually any need, whether you’re looking for a place to go on a morning jog, to take a break from touring to eat a sandwich, or to let your kids run around to burn off their excess energy. No matter where you stay or visit, don’t hesitate to ask locals where the nearest park is—they’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.

Until the next edition of our blog in August, I wish you a pleasant summer full of fun and new discoveries! Have a great summer!

Aude Lafrance-Girard

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Québec City is home to an astonishing wealth of British architectural heritage, especially in Old Québec and downtown. For example, there’s the Holy Trinity Cathedral, the Garrison Club, the castle-like city hall and Gare du Palais train station, the Québec Armoury, and, of course, Château Frontenac. But there’s another British tradition still alive and well today in Québec City: the art of tea. Although you can order a cuppa at just about any café or restaurant in town, sometimes you want to take your tea somewhere where you can get the full experience and enjoy this special moment! So here are some of my favorite spots for tea in Québec City.

Le Lièvre & la Tortue, located at the corner of 3e Avenue and 12e Rue in Limoilou, is well worth the detour. This café, shop, and tea room is a lovely spot to grab a mid-day snack during the week or to kick back and enjoy a leisurely Saturday or Sunday. The atmosphere is very British and I love ensconcing myself in that little room that always makes me feel a bit like “Alice in Wonderland.” They have a great selection of tea, and I can never resist the temptation of ordering a few of their sweets served on flowery plates. They serve all the standards like lemon pound cake and scones, as well as a whole lot more! And if you’re with family and friends who aren’t big tea fans, the café also serves up good coffee and lots of other gourmet items. It’s always such a treat to come back and see all the new items that regularly come in!

Do you like tea but you haven’t had the chance to explore all the different kinds? Then I know just the place for you. It’s called Camellia Sinensis, a tea room located on Rue St-Joseph Est in St-Roch. They have a huge selection: white, black, and green teas; teas from China, Japan, India, and Kenya; and even organic and aged teas. Fortunately, the knowledgeable staff is there to help you choose. In addition to enjoying a spot of tea—paired with an assortment of dark chocolates, shortbread, tea-friendly cookies, or dates—you’re sure to be impressed by the shop’s wide selection of bowls, cups, teapots, and specialty equipment. It’s the perfect place to visit if you want to treat yourself or pick up a great gift for the tea lovers in your life.

To change things up a little, my next recommendation, the Champlain restaurant at the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, boasts exquisite décor, a cozy atmosphere, and a stunning view. For the ultimate tea experience at its most refined, look no further than their “Afternoon Tea,” held Saturdays between 2 and 3:15 p.m. It’s a chance to take part in an English tradition that dates back to the 19th century, when “high tea” was a full meal. You’ll see that the menu is also quite elaborate. With the extensive selection of teas, sandwiches, and savory bites, the scones with cream and a variety of jams and marmalades, and the assortment of sweet treats specially prepared by chef Stéphane Modat using high quality local ingredients, tea time has never been so delightful. And why not make it even more delightful with a glass of champagne?

If you think you might like to have high tea at Château Frontenac in the near future, I recommend booking as soon as possible to get a table at the time you want. It’ll also be an opportunity to be a part of a historic moment because our illustrious neighbor is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year with some very special programming.

And if you prefer a simpler, more relaxed experience after a long day of exploring Old Québec, you are more than welcome to take your tea in the comfort of our hotel lobby during your stay at Château Bellevue. And there’s no reason you can’t step out of our little “château” and stroll over to the big one to take part in all the anniversary festivities!

I wish you a wonderful spring and hope you’ll be back for my next blog post in June when, with any luck, summer will finally be here!

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When people are vacationing, they look for hotels that are centrally located and rooms that are safe and comfortable. But they also want a décor that elevates their travel experience. That’s why interior design is so important and why I love working with it as part of my job. To tell you the truth, it’s a real passion of mine.

When designing hotel rooms and common areas, there are a number of requirements to consider. The design has to meet our customers’ expectations, while providing our staff with an optimal work environment. The goal of design is to create harmony, blending ambiance, comfort, and privacy to enhance enjoyment of these spaces while ensuring a level of ergonomics that makes it easy to provide everyday services.

When describing a hotel room or lobby, people often refer to the decorative elements, but the real strengths and weaknesses often all boil down to design. Having a space that’s well organized with carefully placed furniture and amenities can facilitate movement, help reduce ambient noise, speed up breakfast service, and even encourage guests to talk to each other. A poor design will have the opposite effects.

So it’s important for a hotel to live up to its reputation and take into account the main characteristics, needs, and expectations of the guests it serves. If you’ve ever stayed at Hôtel Château Bellevue you will have undoubtedly noticed—and appreciated, I hope—how warm, cozy, and intimate the hotel is. We wanted to create an ambiance equally well suited to guests traveling alone, as a couple, or with friends. Part of this ambiance has to do with the history of the building, but it also has to do with the comfort of the modern components we’ve added. I have to say I love playing with this blend of historic-meets-modern every chance I get. For example, salvaging and updating old furniture or sprucing up our smallest rooms by pairing wood, bricks, or stone elements with wallpaper featuring modern colors, textures, or motifs is a great way to add character and breathe life into the décor. Making the most of a building with architecture as distinctive as Hôtel Château Bellevue’s comes with its fair share of challenges, but also a lot of opportunities.

Another feature I love to play with is light. In an old building, light is often a challenge because it’s hard to change the building’s structure to bring in more natural light. There are so many key factors to keep in mind when you want to amplify and diffuse each ray or beam of light—everything from selecting and positioning light fixtures to deciding on wall and furniture colors, and picking textures that absorb or reflect ambient light.

As an operator of a small and independent hotel, we need to be very careful not to fall back on déjà vu, while always being aware of the impact and costs of making updates. That’s why at Hôtel Château Bellevue, we try to renovate three or four rooms and freshen up one common area every year. You have to be creative and avoid jumping on hot new trends that can quickly fall out of favor or turn off guests who choose Hôtel Château Bellevue for a special reason: because its location and signature style elevate the overall experience of visiting Old Québec.

For me the best way to stay inspired and on-trend is to travel. It’s a way for me to continuously rethink my understanding of guests’ needs and discover original and creative new ways to meet these needs. I encourage you to take a look at a hotel I recently visited that blew me away with a design that’s both simple and mindful of the building’s history. It’s called Hôtel Baudon de Mauny and is located in the heart of Montpelier in the south of France. Built in the 18th century, this tiny hotel underwent a major overhaul so that today it can provide guests a high quality experience comparable to what you’d get at a contemporary hotel, with modern amenities and services enhanced by the distinctive charm that comes from the historic ambiance and architectural details.

If you’re a design fan like me and know about other hotels that take an original approach to blending history and modernity, I’d love to hear about them in a comment.

Enjoy the rest of your winter. I’ll be back with a new blog post in April!

Aude Lafrance-Girard

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North America has a lot of great cities. But I truly believe that Québec City stands out from the crowd. And it’s not just because of its unique history and undeniable beauty. I’m kicking off my “Why Choose Québec City?” blog series with a look at one of the foremost reasons to put Québec City at the tippy top of the list: incredible eats—at any hour and for every budget.

I know what you’re thinking: Québec City is a far cry from New York. And you’re right, but did you know that when it comes to numbers, Québec City has at least as many restaurants per capita as the Big Apple? Some worry that having so many restaurants cuts down on profits, but it also means there’s a huge selection to choose from for locals and visitors alike.

Quantity aside, however, what’s most remarkable is the quality of the food they serve. There may not be any Michelin-starred restaurants in Québec City, but a number of them boast menus and wine lists likely to wow even the most discerning gourmets.

What really sets the Québec City food scene apart is that you eat really well no matter what type of restaurant or neighborhood you choose. Aside from restaurants, you’ll also find plenty of bistros and cafés serving up simple but scrumptious fare. We probably owe our vibrant food culture to our European roots, which have instilled a rich culinary tradition and a love for taking the time to savor a good meal in good company. But we’re also very North American, which is why our chefs enjoy breaking from tradition to create new and exciting flavor combinations that enrich and update these traditions without losing the essence of our culture.

Another great thing about the Québec City food scene is the freshness of the products used. That’s because there is a veritable treasure trove of terroirs farmed by dedicated producers within a 40 kilometer radius of the Old City. You’ll find a lot more than just strawberries on Ile d’Orléans, cheeses in Portneuf, and duck in Côte-de-Beaupré. Being so close to such a wide variety of extraordinary products imparts in our cuisine a world of aromas and flavors you won’t find anywhere outside the Québec City area. And I haven’t even gotten started on our microbreweries, which are busily reinventing a tradition that dates back to the days of Louis Hébert (1627).

Québec City is about more than just quantity, quality, and originality. It’s also a got a ton of variety. Although the population of the city and surrounding area is relatively homogeneous, you’ll find everything from traditional French restaurants to Italian, Greek, Chinese, Thai, Indian, Lebanese, Vietnamese, and Latin American eateries, plus the Indigenous fare of the Wendat people. Here too, the dishes are often a fresh take on the traditions that inspired them.

And one last thing that I think really captures what Québec City food is all about is how affordable it all is. In this town it’s easy to eat well in trendy surroundings with plenty of atmosphere without emptying your wallet. That means you can treat yourself more often, explore new restaurants, and become a regular at your favorite bistro.

As you may have guessed, after all this talk about the quality of the Québec City food scene: I’m something of a “foodie” myself. I love great food, but I especially love introducing friends, family, and curious guests at our hotel—Château Bellevue—to the city’s great eateries. So I can’t leave you without telling you about some of my faves. There are so many it’s hard to narrow it down! But I’ll give it a try:

Le Mezzé : This Greek taverna located in the Montcalm district offers up a warm and welcoming atmosphere and a menu sure to please fish and seafood fans and grilled meat lovers alike. Be sure to ask the owner or your server for suggestions on what to pick. Personally, I’m a big fan of the octopus!

Battuto : Reservations are a must if you want to sample the traditional Italian food served up at this little restaurant on Rue Langelier—especially since it was named best restaurant in Canada by Air Canada’s EnRoute magazine. Everything is simple, fresh, delicious, perfectly executed. The restaurant is small so you’re always close to the chef, the service is very attentive, and the ambiance is one-of-a-kind.

Restaurant Wong : This Chinese restaurant on Rue Buade is a veritable institution. I go there all the time, and not just because it’s a three-generation family business like our hotel. Steve Wong is a pro in the kitchen because everything he cooks up is truly delicious. From the classic egg rolls and chow mein to the wonton soup (the aromatic broth alone keeps me coming back), the menu has something for everyone, from children to adults. It’s one of those classic spots that just keeps getting better with age.

Stay tuned. I’ll be back again soon with more reasons for choosing Québec City. Until next time, all the best,

Aude Lafrance-Girard

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As you know, my father Alain Girard has a blog on Hôtel Château Laurier Québec. I contributed a few posts to it and wound up catching the bug. So now I’m starting a blog of my own here on the site of our gem, Hôtel Château Bellevue.

For this first post, I decided I’d tell you about what we’re doing to improve the guest experience at Château Bellevue, our cozy 47-room hotel with a beautiful view (just like the name says) out over the St. Lawrence River on the edge of Parc des Gouverneurs in the heart of Old Québec.

Chambres

At our hotels, we strive to make continuous improvements and provide service in the most authentic, personalized way we can. But how do you create an even closer connection between staff and guests at an already small hotel like Château Bellevue?

Working closely with our employees, we have identified a few points that may seem like small details, but will surely help us do an even better job expressing the distinctive personality and warm welcome our guests love.

The actions suggested so far have to do with everything from the hotel layout to the choice of music and how we write notes to our guests. The main goal of these steps is to better support our employees and improve the quality of all interactions with and between guests. For instance, the breakfast area will be redesigned to be friendlier and more conducive to conversations between guests. We’re going to add a bench along the bay window in the front of the hotel so guests can take full advantage of the gorgeous view. Although all employees are required to be in uniform, they can always accessorize to add a personal touch.

Déjeuner

For the changes we’ve already made and those still to come, it takes everybody’s cooperation to incorporate them into day-to-day operations. That’s why our ongoing efforts to improve the guest experience are done as a team. The employees involved participate on a voluntary basis, which shows how interested and engaged they are in the process. Getting a good mix of people onboard is also important, because having different points of view fosters creativity. The members of the team come from various departments at Château Bellevue, and we even have two people from outside who work at our sister hotel, Hôtel Château Laurier Québec.

Employés

The guest experience influences the perception customers will have of us before, during, and after their stay. Although there’s no way to guarantee all our guests will always be completely satisfied, we believe that continuously watching, listening, assessing, and improving is the best way to succeed and to make Château Bellevue a place where people want to be. If you stay at the Château Bellevue, feel free to share your impressions about your guest experience with me! Your suggestions are important to us.

Until next time,

Aude Lafrance-Girard

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