The cost to stay at the Ripplecove Hotel & Spa for two nights in a Prestige Suite was a whopping $1,765 on the property’s own website. Since we would be going as a family, we wanted the extra space and kitchen facilities that their suites had. The hotel is one of only two 5-star properties east of Montreal, as awarded by Tourism Quebec.
Fortunately I had a sizeable balance of TD Rewards points to draw from using my TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite* Card. In addition to that, booking while using the Expedia® For TD website gave a substantial discount bringing the cost down to about $1,250.
I had approximately 160,000 TD points to use, lowering the room cost to a very manageable $440 with taxes and fees for the two nights.
The hotel is located on the beautiful shores of Lake Massawippi in the town of Ayer’s Cliff. The location is opposite Quebec’s other 5-star property in this area, the Manoir Hovey.
Arrival & Check-In
The reception area is through the front entrance of the main building. This structure also houses the restaurant, a beautiful sitting room, and some of the regular rooms on the upper floor.
While the interior was striking, the lack of service became apparent almost immediately. The reception staff were unable to answer any of my questions regarding general options for food for children, and told me to just ask at the restaurant. When I enquired about family activities planned for the weekend, I was told to consult the hotel’s website. They didn’t seem to be able or interested in giving us any pertinent information which is what you’d expect at what should be a very full-service property.
We were given the keys to our suite and told to drive our car into the parking garage of the suite building next to the main building. We drove into the garage which looked like it was undergoing some construction.
I then proceeded to move all of our things to our room myself, which is a considerable amount when travelling as a whole family with young children for a weekend. There was no luggage assistance, or anyone to show us where our room was, nor even any luggage trolleys around. At this point it felt like I was checking into a really nice Residence Inn. Which is perfectly fine when paying $200/night, but at a rack rate of $850/night at a 5-star property it was a pretty ordinary arrival experience.
After we had settled into our room and started exploring, I found the actual main entrance of the suite building which was much better, and low and behold I found luggage trolleys! If only someone had mentioned to me where they were upon arrival…
Our Prestige Suite featured a king bed, a queen bed, a pullout sofa, a full kitchen, minibar items (for a fee), and balcony overlooking the water.
The washroom included a rainfall shower, single sink, and various soap and vanity items.
The room had a washer & dryer and a closet including ironing board and safe. And one other very strange feature: A closet (or what appeared to be a closet) with absolutely nothing inside. No hangers, or hanger support, or anything at all! It looked like this bit was unfinished. So naturally it became a great place for my kids to store their toys!
Overall the room was very nice. It was large, functional, the kitchen was great, with sweeping views of the lake. Other than the view, there wasn’t anything particularly charming about it. A bit austere, but very clean, comfortable, and modern. Again, sort of like the very best Residence Inn you’ve ever been to.
The property is gorgeous with patios along the waterfront, hammocks, comfortable sitting areas, and a jetty where you can come and go via the water.
The hotel boasts a gorgeous bar called Le Cove and a restaurant called Le Riverain. Since we had our young kids with us we didn’t partake in any long fine dining multi-course tasting menus while there. We mostly ate in our suite using our kitchen. We did go for lunch though one day and while it was expensive, it was absolutely splendid. Service was top-notch – professional but extremely friendly, and contrasted with what we had experienced from the reception staff. We shared delicious bread, soup, a lobster roll, a filet mignon cheeseburger, and desert for everyone. My wife and I had amazing private import wine with suggestions from the sommelier. Since it was the fall it was cool outside, but there were patio heaters everywhere so we ate outside, and the maître d’hôtel even came and wrapped my wife and daughters up in warm blankets.
I stopped into the bar with my daughter for a short visit before supper one evening to enjoy a couple of cocktails. My daughter had her first experience with a shirley temple which she loved!
Facilities & Service
One advantage of staying in the suite building is that you get exclusive access to a rooftop terrace with lounge seating, BBQs, gas-powered fire pits, and two jacuzzi hot tubs. This was one of our favourite features of the hotel and we had multiple visits up here.
The suite building also has a gym (exclusive only to those staying in that building) and the hotel offers bikes to borrow for free to all guests which are located in the garage. There is also an indoor spa which does massages and beauty treatments which we did not use on our visit. A list of onsite activities can be seen on the hotel’s website.
There is quite a nice pool area with plenty of seating around it and towels available.
There are boats available to borrow for free including paddle boats and kayaks which we used a couple of times. While the paddle boats worked ok, the presentation of it all left a lot to be desired. The entrance to the jetty was partially underwater, there was a rowboat which was half-sunk, half the kayaks were strewn around on the lawn in a disorderly fashion, and the other half, along with the life vests, were placed right over the water meaning you had to get into the lake to fetch them or awkwardly reach down from up top to get them. There was no staff around, and when I asked at the front desk why half the kayaks were inaccessible and the rowboat and jetty were partially underwater they didn’t really have much to say. While we enjoyed the boats, it felt more like we visiting some friends with a lakeside cottage rather than staying in a luxury resort.
There was a pontoon boat available to rent for an extra charge of $135/hour + tax. We took this out our last day and had some nice views of the lake. It was actually quite fun – I was expecting it to be quite slow but was pleasantly surprised at its speed and made it almost to the other end of Lake Massawippi in half an hour before I had to turn back.
As far as service went, it was really hit or miss. The staff in the restaurant and bar were outstanding. Polished but laid back at the same time which made for a great time.
The reception and other staff at the hotel though didn’t seem to take nearly as much pride in their work. At no point did anyone ask how our stay was, either via phone to our room or in person. For some reason the outdoor staff break table where personnel were seen sitting around and smoking was located just next to the hotel’s main entrance. The jetty was left in quite a disarray where you went to get boats. Housekeeping, let alone any turndown service, was non-existent. There was no mention of anyone coming to clean our room or the availability of fresh towels, etc. Our microwave wasn’t working and when I told the front desk, they said someone would come to fix it but nobody showed up. And as mentioned before the arrival experience was a bad start with no help offered whatsoever to get to our room or assist with our luggage, and with the reception unable to answer fairly basic questions about our stay.
Hotel Fact Sheet
|Parking||Free||Breakfast included with room||No|
|Pool||Yes (exterior)||Rooms with balconies||Yes|
|Spa||Yes||Rooms with kitchenette||Yes|
|Gym||Yes (for suite guests)||USB plugs in room||Yes|
|Accepts animals||Service animals only||Shower/Bath||Depends on room type|
Our stay at the Ripplecove was very pleasant overall, though there were definitive pros and cons. The property itself is gorgeous with a fantastic location. The interiors are beautiful, and the dining options on site are terrific. We did have a great time while here, with one highlight being the rooftop terrace and jacuzzis. Our room, while lacking in any specific charm, was clean, modern, spacious and very functional (with the exception of the broken microwave which never did get fixed). What was lacking was a higher level of service from the other hotel staff with no strong feeling of hospitality outside of the bar and restaurant.
If you can find a more reasonable rate to stay here than what was available when I did, and/or are able to use credit card point currencies to offset the cost, then you’ll still very much enjoy it. However, if travelling as a family with young children or if you require extra space, there are plenty of AirBNB/vacation rentals in the area which would likely provide much better value. If you’re looking for a trip with just adults or older children and would like the facilities of a hotel, then I would recommend Manoir Hovey instead. This property is located at the other end of Lake Massawippi and provides a better overall experience.