Imagine a corporate meeting in a home-like environment where breaks can be spent on the shores of a lake or a closed-in porch in the midst of natural surroundings.
Moosehead Estates and Retreat in Mattawa on Lake Champlain is a bed and breakfast with a twist – it focuses on groups, including those looking for a different venue for a conference.
“We can hold up to 20 people for a conference and we have nine rooms for overnight stays and some of the rooms have two beds,” said Melanie Viau, who owns and operates the house along with her husband Marc Bouthillier.
“We cater to corporate groups, retreats and we put packages together and customize everything suited to meet their needs,” she said.
That includes having exclusive use of the house, regardless of the number of people.
“If there is a group of five, it will just be them and no other guests.”
The home's history dates back to the early 1900s when it was built by Timmins brothers Noah and Henry, who were proprietors of a general store in the town. Noah would be known as the founder of Timmins about a decade later.
In the 1940s, the home was transferred to Senator Donat Raymond, who was a relative of the Timmins brothers, and owner of the Montreal Canadiens hockey club.
Its ties to hockey continued when Della Mann and her mother gained ownership in 1945. She was married to Toronto Maple Leafs player Normie Mann and guests included Roy Rogers and his sidekick Pat Brady.
From the early 1970s for the following 29 years, the property was owned by William A.H. MacBrien, chairman of the board of Maple Leaf Gardens.
“We bought it in 2006 and we gutted the entire house. Everything has been redone but we tried to keep everything original as much as possible and recreate what was here,” Viau said.
Two years later they opened for business.
Three home-cooked meals are available to groups, and guests are able to use other living rooms if smaller group work is required.
“We host local and out-of-town groups. Locally we offer day retreats and those from out of town have come from North Bay, Sudbury and Ottawa. Sometimes guests come in one or two nights ahead of time or stay after to relax,” she said.
Although the home is open year round, corporate functions are not held during the summer since weddings and family events are catered to.
Viau said the setting is intimate and more appealing than traditional venues for corporate meetings and events.
“It is all about the experience here and we want all our guests to feel like they are at home,” she said. “We try hard to provide a family-type setting so they can relax and take over the house. Many have said they are so relaxed they find they are more productive.”