For this month’s MY DRAP customer feature, we are showcasing Langdon Hall Country House Hotel and Spa: a grand estate rooted in history. Surrounded by lush acres and fragrant gardens, this luxurious hotel and spa is located just a few hours away from the bustling streets of Toronto, Ontario. A cherished getaway for those looking to escape the busy hum of the city.

We had the pleasure of sitting down with Erin Laskis, Director of Communications at Langdon Hall, and much to the delight of the MY DRAP team, historian and storyteller extraordinnaire! We dive into the property’s illustrious history of ownership; the values that have helped it sustain a loyal clientele; finally, how MY DRAP fits into its vision of elevating the guest experience, down to the smallest detail.

Tell me a little bit about the historical background behind Langdon Hall!

It’s really fascinating! Langdon Hall Country House Hotel and Spa has been operating for over 30 years, but the property itself dates all the way back to the mid-19th century!

Our story began in 1858, when Matthew Wilkes saw an ad in a New York newspaper for a Galt-area property called Cruickston Park. He immediately saw potential in it as a Summer vacation residence for his family of 9. He grew the property to 1000 acres, before passing it over to Eugene Langdon Wilkes, the youngest of his seven children.

MY DRAP • Cotton Napkins

Now on his mother’s side, Eugene was the great grandson of John Jacob Astor, an immensely wealthy fur trader and real estate tycoon. At the age of 37, Eugene returned to Cruickston Park after attending school in England and settling in Western Canada for work. He married Pauline Kingsmill, a great granddaughter of Galt’s founder, the Honourable William Dickson. In 1898, Eugene purchased twenty-nine acres at the northwest corner of the Cruickston property, as well as an adjoining parcel of 76 acres. He and Pauline hired an architect to draw up plans for their new summer residence. Construction was completed in 1902, resulting in a spacious, 32-room home, totalling over 25,000 square feet!

Unfortunately Eugene’s first marriage was short-lived, as Pauline got cancer and succumbed to her illness in 1914, leaving behind no children. After her death, Eugene ended up marrying Marguerite Briquet, the Swiss nurse who cared for his first wife while she was undergoing treatment in Europe. Together they had three daughters: Catherine Claude, Anne Marguerite and Marion Lucille Langdon.

MY DRAP • Cotton Napkins

The family divided their time between New York City, their château near Tours, France, and Langdon Hall, until Eugene’s death in 1934. Just before World War Two, France commanded the Tours château, so Marguerite and her three daughters fled to Canada and took up permanent residence in Langdon Hall.

Only the eldest daughter Catherine remained at Langdon. She inherited the property after Marguerite Wilks’ death in 1961. Catherine and her husband Garth Thompson remained at Langdon Hall until 1980, selling off the mansion and thirty surrounding acres in 1982. This was the end of the Wilks family ownership over the estate.

It wasn’t until 1986 that Mr. William Bennett, an architect, and his wife Mary Beaton purchased the property. Despite the mansion’s dilapidated state, the couple put a year and a half into renovations and realized their dream of opening a country house hotel in 1989.

MY DRAP • Cotton Napkins

Now over 30 years and two expansions later (including a 2016 addition of extra rooms, cloisters, and an events hall), Langdon Hall remains an elegant and magical escape for many!

What a fascinating history! The kitchen garden is a defining feature of Langdon Hall; can you expand on its significance?

A huge part of the Langdon Hall experience is a delicious meal cooked with produce grown in our one-acre culinary garden! In fact, we use it year-round to inform our ever-changing menu, depending on what is in season. 

Every dish has ingredients pulled from our culinary garden and greenhouse. We grow everything ourselves, and anything we can’t grow in-house we source from local farmers, like Murray’s Farms here in Ontario! We also have a partnership with Oceanwise, allowing us to get the most sustainably-sourced fish for our dishes.

MY DRAP • Cotton Napkins

A fun fact: The Wilks family’s one-acre culinary garden, which served as their food supply, was initially designed by John Charles Olmsted, son of Frederick Lot Olmstead, a landscape architect known for designing New York’s legendary Central Park! Known as the father of American Landscape architects, Olmstead was very inspired by the British gardening tradition, which was evident in the landscaping style.

Many years after William Bennett and Mary Beaton opened Langdon Hall, they actually came across letters and plans from the original gardens of 1902. It was then that they set out to revive the garden, with the purpose of providing a vegetable and herb supply to the hotel’s kitchen. 

MY DRAP • Cotton Napkins

At Langdon Hall, we take a lot of pride in the property’s history, and want to celebrate this pride for the past with our guests!

What makes Langdon Hall stand out from other hotels?

The fact that it’s family-owned and operated! Bill and Mary’s son Braden Bennett is now the Operating Manager & Owner, and works at the hotel with his wife Jennifer Houghton. These family values trickle down to the guests as well – the majority of guests are return guests, who have been coming since Langdon Hall’s opening. Their children and grandchildren are still coming today! 

Along with the family aspect, is how we treat our guests. Yes it’s a hotel, but one that is so different from your typical, corporate-focused and regulated hotel. Langdon is a destination, not a stopover- it’s really an experience! People are making the two-hour trip from Toronto to experience an escape through Langdon Hall.

How did you get into the industry?

I’ve worked in marketing since I was 21! A post-graduate PR program brought me into the fashion and supplements space. I’ve always worked in restaurants and golf courses and have developed a tremendous respect for the hospitality industry. I’m also a huge foodie! So when a marketing position at Langdon opened up, it really appealed to me- I was instantly drawn in by the kind atmosphere, combined with an astute appreciation for food and hospitality.

MY DRAP • Cotton Napkins

I have now been working as Langdon’s Director of Communications for two years. Although I started in the middle of the Covid pandemic, I was lucky enough to start right after the majority of closures had ended. We’ve been using MY DRAP for years (since 2018 to be exact); however, the Covid pandemic created a new use case for your amazing products, which has been the gift that keeps on giving!!

How did your relationship with MY DRAP come to be?

Well, we have been using MY DRAP since 2018, at various instances throughout the property. The bar, restaurant, and at events, to name a few.

In January of 2022, when we had that month-long restriction on indoor dining, we rebranded our Summer House (an outdoor venue typically reserved for weddings), to a Winter House for outdoor diners. This included a special menu; an open space with a roof overtop; and heaters set up so people could eat outdoors, enjoy cocktails, snacks, and warm drinks. This set up also included MY DRAP custom cocktail napkins!  

MY DRAP • Cotton Napkins

What we love about the napkins is the sustainability aspect. It really lines up with our ethos. We also find that our guests naturally notice every small detail; therefore, it’s super important to us that every single element exudes a luxurious feel, including the napkins. 

What are some other ways you have been using MY DRAP? Any other unique use cases?

In general, we’ve been using them for a lot of our events! As far as unique use cases go, even during lockdown restrictions, we were still offering in-room dining. For something like room service, people don’t expect anything crazy as far as presentation goes. But we try to elevate even this experience for them! 

MY DRAP • Cotton Napkins

Even post-pandemic, for staycations, people will often opt to eat in their room- one small way we can elevate the experience, is by lining our porter trays for room service and room drop deliveries with a custom MY DRAP dinner napkin, which we also use for our wine buckets. They’re adorned with our company logo, and really speak to our brand of luxury!

What do you appreciate the most about our products?

For this question, I’d like to emphasize two pillars that align with those of MY DRAP: sustainability and family values.

Let’s start with sustainability. Oftentimes, people don’t think about the amount of waste going into entertaining. Therefore, any way in which we can reduce our footprint is a win! At Langdon Hall, we are all about finding those small ways throughout the property to make a difference to the planet. The fact that MY DRAP has found a way to make a napkin look incredible, elevate the experience for the client, while being a fully sustainable product, is incredible for us! It’s underestimated how important that can be for a hotel, which tends to produce a lot of waste. We are so committed to these values, that we are also currently working with a refillery to reduce our toilet waste! So it’s really nice to work with a company like MY DRAP, which creates an elevated product, while making sustainability at the forefront of what they do.

MY DRAP • Cotton Napkins

The other pillar is of course, family. Being a family founded and operated hotel, we are always looking to work with Canadian-founded companies with similar values. When it comes to sourcing local ingredients and vendors, it’s always great to come across family-owned companies like MY DRAP, who understand the importance of relationships in business. It just makes our partnership that much stronger and more meaningful!

What sort of feedback do you receive from clients?

We always like to give out comment cards for our guests, as consistent feedback is super valuable to us. When we were doing the Winter House outdoor dining concept during the pandemic, we noticed that a lot of people were saying that the experience didn’t feel like something they had to do because of covid – that it was something they would’ve done even if indoor dining was an option.

MY DRAP • Cotton Napkins

We attribute the success of this project to the small details that helped elevate the event; the ambience, chairs, cutlery, plating, and of course, beautiful MY DRAP napkins at each table!