The inn Au Clos Rolland, Couette & Café, acquired by two couples the day after Christmas 2020, immerses the visitor in another time in the heart of the village of Sainte-Adèle. The story of a deep friendship, a place steeped in history and an atypical and inspiring leadership principle.
Posted at 12:00 p.m
Claude Ménard and Geneviève Robert met Jean-François Lapalme and Alexandre Girard about ten years ago. “It was kind of a friendly love at first sight; We have shared different moments together, be it through travel or common interests like hiking. We also like to eat well, and that was one of the reasons why we wanted to have an inn together,” says Claude.
Claude and Geneviève dreamed of running a B&B for a long time, then the idea arose to realize this project with their wonderful friends. “We liked the concept of living together, of long-term planning. We are a family and found it interesting to combine our wealth and strengths,” says the mother of two young adults. “We lived in Montreal for a long time, then at some point we got a bit out of breath living in the city with Claude and the kids, so we moved to Sainte-Adèle eight or nine years ago. »
As lovers of old houses, the couple knows the problems that an old house brings. Jean-François and Alexandre too. The first is a nurse and saw himself receiving people in a box: “It’s a different way of communicating than in the context of my work, but it’s also a different context than inviting friends over to your home. »
When they saw that Auberge Au Clos Rolland was on sale, they all said to themselves, “That’s very big! », but the visit won her over. “I didn’t sleep all night,” Claude recalls. The house could accommodate all four in separate apartments, a key point in maintaining everyone’s privacy, in addition to five bedrooms and five bathrooms for guests.
We put all our marbles in the same bag as we thought this establishment was made for us.
Claude Ménard, co-owner of the Au Clos Rolland inn
A listed heritage
The Mont-Rolland district was a city before the municipal mergers. It was founded by Jean-Baptiste Rolland, who went from being a typographer’s apprentice to a major businessman in the mid-19th century.e Century. “He had the idea of building his own printing works there instead of importing paper and was involved in the revitalization of the Pays-d’en-Haut,” says Geneviève.
By purchasing land in Mont-Rolland owned by the Americans, he expanded the factory and sold land to his employees, contributing to local development. The house was built in 1902 and extended around 1912. “It is adorned with lambrequins bearing the effigy of the lily because it was important to Mr. Rolland to show that it was a Canadian house – French,” points out Claude. The property remained family-owned until 1995. Then it was sold and transformed into an inn without changing its historical aspect.
Renovation according to the rules of technology
Acquiring such a large fortune requires constant maintenance, and the strain is high. The quartet were keenly aware of the work to be done and planned work to restore it to its former glory. “We paint a lot and look for pieces of wood to replace the damaged ones. It’s not easy, and it’s also difficult to find specialized artisans,” notes Mr. Ménard.
“Of course it takes love, but the woodwork, the stairs are exceptional. It is very important to us to improve things while respecting what already exists,” says Jean-François happily. Another challenge successfully mastered: updating the plumbing and electricity.
We want our customers to benefit from modern comfort while preserving the identity of the property.
Jean-François Lapalme, co-owner of the inn
The four friends were very excited when they opened in May 2021. Over time, they found solutions to various problems. “We offer our hostel guests four-course menus. So it is that we have 14 people at the table. We quickly realized that the evenings washing dishes were very long and that there was less time to chat with people, who are often the contact they seek when staying in a gîte,” explains Claude.
Jean-François then jokingly replies that it was Claude’s madness to invest in industrial plants to save time. So they bought professional equipment, including a dishwasher that gets the job done in 140 seconds! Everyone agrees that the game was worth the candle in every way. Technological improvements also go through the newly purchased reservation system, because the previous owners put them on paper.
An ideal organization
Well equipped, the team is more organized but also the way they run the lodge is their strength. “We are fortunate to have jobs that give us the opportunity to have unpaid leave or deferred pay. So we take turns looking after the accommodation,” explains Geneviève.
Therefore, Jean-François will succeed Claude, who is currently in office until the end of 2022. “It is clear that we help each other. It’s really a balance to not burning out, and while it’s not yet, it’s also our great retirement project,” she concludes.