Come late November Le Bonne Entente transforms into a Christmas wonderland with glittering lights, velvety bouquets and luminous ornaments in and outside the Quebec City hotel.
By Julie Gedeon
Photo courtesty of Le Bonne Entente
“We want our guests to be delightfully awed by the lavish vases, embellished branches and larger-than-life ornaments in most every corner and even suspended from the ceiling,” says Pascale Banville, director of marketing, communications and guest services. “We make sure there’s just the right amount – a lot but never too much – so it looks magical.”
The hotel takes stock of its decorations every autumn to determine what needs to be added or discarded based on the available budget. “We work with a vibrant consultant who researches the latest trends and whose own head is filled with ideas,” Banville says. “Then we choose decorations we hope will last a decade.”
Le Bonne Entente overhauled its Christmas décor three years ago to replace countryside quaintness with urban chic. “Our decorations were initially sparse because of our budget limitations and decision to only buy quality,” Banville says, “but we already have a nice assortment that’s just getting better.”
Stuffed turkey and Christmas pudding don’t have anything on Le Bonne Entente’s innovative holiday menu either. Chef Jean-François Bélair has been dreaming of scrumptious meals rather than sugar plums since early September.
Holiday fare can include pressed Angus beef accompanied by a confit of young carrots and tarragon mustard, or a red snapper fillet with cauliflower tabouleh and chimichurri sauce. For dessert: a dark chocolate sphere with salted caramel.
“People increasingly want lighter, healthier, local food prepared in a special way they wouldn’t have at home,” Banville says. “We have customers reserve weeks ahead when they hear that oysters are part of our New Year’s Day buffet, and a lot of resolutions are postponed until Jan. 2nd.”
Youngsters can enjoy the same menu at half the price, but no worries if they don’t yet like tarragon mustard. The Fun Club a floor below the Monte Cristo l’Original dining room has chicken nuggets, croque monsieur, and other finger food. The children happily play together under adult supervision while their parents enjoy a quiet – maybe even romantic – dinner.
“Parents sign a form indicating whether they want their children to remain in the Fun Club during their entire dinner, if they can go to the Monte Cristo on their own or visit only if accompanied by a guardian,” Banville explains. “Most children are enthralled for hours by the cooking lessons, jewellery making, holiday crafting and other Fun Club activities.”
Of course everyone – young and old – gathers around the same huge Christmas tree on Dec. 24th when Santa arrives to distribute gifts that parents have provided to lighten the jolly man’s load.
Le Bonne Entente’s top tips for holiday success:
- Use a realistic but serious decorating budget to set your establishment apart and provide at least a few new pleasing surprises for regular customers.
- Offer holiday menus that clearly outdo what most people would prepare at home.
- Provide some fun activity for the kids.