When Jason Stafford was six years old he declared himself in charge of food quality control at the hotel his family owned. “I became a foodie at a very young age and made it my priority to share my passion with the chefs at the hotel,” quips the managing director of the highly acclaimed Manoir Hovey in North Hatley, Que.
Growing up in a family of hoteliers (his dad and his grandfather were both in the industry) has given Stafford an intense appreciation for hospitality. “I was a beach boy for many years in the summers when I was an adolescent. I gave windsurfing and waterskiing lessons to the guests at Manoir Hovey and took them on lake tours by boat. I really loved that job.”
Though Stafford has been with the 37-suite Manoir Hovey, a Relais & Châteaux property, for 15 years, he’s still passionate about his job. His grounding has given him a perspective of all facets of the hotel.
These days, Stafford works hard to differentiate the Manoir Hovey from other hotels. “We are not interested in limiting ourselves to being an establishment that sells rooms and good meals. We’re interested in building and delivering experiences for our guests that convey a sense of place and make our guests feel they have experienced something unique.”
The Toronto native directs a team of 95 associates who provide caring and personalized service. “My service philosophy is also driven by a desire to work with the best local products, suppliers, foragers, artists, designers and employees. Ultimately, my philosophy is centered on the guest and finding innovative ways to satisfy them.”
Over the past few years, the hotelier has made efforts to better market the property on the international stage. “I, or members of my team, spend at least three months of the year travelling around the world promoting the Manoir Hovey experience.” This past March, the hotel’s chef, Francis Wolf, was invited to cook at Relais & Châteaux GourmetFest where he headlined menus with a few of the world’s top chefs, including Olivier Roellinger, Michel Bras (three Michelin Stars) and Diego Munoz. “Chef Wolf is increasingly making it clear that Le Hatley Restaurant at Manoir Hovey is serious about food, wine and service.” Moving forward, the restaurant will feature more guest chef events as well as winemaker dinners. “Our chefs are passionate about foraging, and they will start offering guided foraging tours of our property later this month. Guests will get an introduction to the wonderful abundance of wild plants, mushrooms and herbs on the property.”
Efforts to exceed guest expectations are clearly paying off. Earlier this year, Condé Nast Traveler ranked Manoir Hovey the top-rated hotel in Eastern Canada. But, while accolades are always welcome, his family’s encouragement and the outstanding group of dedicated professionals Stafford works with are what make him happiest. “Any success I’ve had wouldn’t have been possible without each and every one of them.”
Volume 27, Number 4