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The staff couldn't be nicer

They call her "Mrs. B." and she's one of the matriarchs at the Bradgate Arms retirement suites. She's also a joker.

Eleanor Beauchamp, 84, came to the Bradgate, which is really like a residential hotel, under duress. Her daughters insisted she should not be living alone after she had a series of heart attacks.

"I just came in for two weeks to try it-and I've been here for seven years," she says, taking morning coffee in the striking four-storey atrium.

"And she has not had any medical stuff since she came here," says one of the nurses.

Could be the social life. The first day she was there, a resident, Anne Walters, asked her if she would like to join her for dinner in the intimate cream decor dining room. "She's my best friend-she's a doll," says Eleanor. Anne, 102, lives two doors along from her.

There's a timelessness about life behind the suite doors. Marion Chant, 95, lives surrounded by evocative Canadian landscapes painted by Tom Roberts. "I like the quietness of it here," she says.

Many of the residents either went to school together or their children attended the same schools, and nearly all the inquiries about Bradgate Arms come by word of mouth. "I feel we are really part of the community," says Stephanie.

Also there's the staff, many of whom stayed on after the Bradgate ceased to be a regular hotel 11 years ago. "Honest to Pete," says Eleanor, "They couldn't be nicer." There's Marcel, the French maitre d'. When he takes the arms of some of the older ladies and leads them to their tables, says Eleanor, "you would think they were going to their first prom."

When her daughter, Kathy, takes her for a drive, the doorman, Bernard, "buckles me up."

Bert, on the desk, also knows Eleanor well. Sometimes he takes off his shoes when he's at work. "And I hide them in the flower bed," she admits, unrepentant.

Perhaps the worst (or best?) prank was when Eleanor dropped a fancy bra into the lost and found box. "Bert, I seem to have lost an earring," she said. "Do you think you could look in the lost and found box?" They're still debating whether, when he found the unexpected item, Bert blushed.







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