I was sitting at Porter Airlines Cafe at Toronto Island Airport, nibbling on salted almonds, munching on chocolate chip shortbread cookies and sipping on a latte. I was staring down at my iPhone, tweeting pictures of my snack and raving about how excited I was to fly to Mont Tremblant. I had a great time on my first Porter flight this past winter when I covered Winterlude for Ottawa Tourism with my father.
This time around I would be flying with my mother to Quebec’s most raved about Laurentian resort destination. My mother would be arriving from Oakville on the Go Train. I made sure she understood to arrive early. She was a bit confused initially, why would she want to knowingly sit at an airport longer than necessary? Anyways, she arrived at the cafe 90 minutes before our flight was scheduled to depart. Once she took a quick tour of the Porter complimentary cafe she was beyond thrilled. She grabbed a bottle of water, latte, bag of shortbread and little bowl of almonds. We enjoyed our complimentary breakfast while sitting on comfy leather chairs…waiting for our flight to board.
Our flight was a short one hour journey which had us zooming east of Ontario over vast forests spotted with fresh water lakes. I couldn’t help but giggle as my mother was offered a complimentary lunch featuring a chicken sandwich, oatmeal cookies, Lindtt chocolate and a can of Steamwhistle Pils. My mother instantly fell in love with Porter’s exemplary service and top notch food and beverage offerings. They really are the only airline I know of that have travelers arriving at the airport early just to enjoy the ambiance of the departure lounge. This is an exceptional accomplishment especially since most people associate “airports” with “headaches.”
As we made our decent through the clouds I peaked my head out the window and could see that wild and vast wilderness that Canada is so famous for. Hundreds of lakes, winding streams and vast rolling hills covered in crisp green forest. The Mont Tremblant International Airport is by far one of the most adorable I have ever encountered. At first glance it appears to look like a ski lodge, constructed of large pine logs. Once inside the “terminal” I was greeted by a classic Canadian “outdoorsy” interior featuring an indigenous totem, canoe, Quebec flag and antlers. The airport has done a great job at capturing the essence of the Laurentians.
We hopped in a shuttle bus which spent 30 minutes zig zagging through rural Quebec towards Mont Tremblant Resort, which is owned and operated by Intrawest. We were the first to be dropped off, at the stunning Chateau Beauvallon which would act as our home base for the next three days. As soon as we arrived at our room I had my mother act as guide and recorded a tour of our suite which featured two master bedrooms, a kitchen, family room and balcony overlooking the pool.
Once finished unpacking we headed to the hotel bar where we met with the Tourism Board PR rep and GM of the hotel. We sat out on the patio in the hot afternoon sun chatting about the history and growth of Mont Tremblant. I ordered a strawberry daiquiri which I finished up quickly as the humid heat sent pearls of sweat down my glass. We bid the Tourism rep farewell and then enjoyed a private tour hosted by the GM of the property. We walked past the pool and enjoyed stunning views of quaint Lake Beauvallon as well as a showcase of some of the hotels most celebrated suites which included a massive Presidential suites featuring four master bedrooms, a bar and dining room! After our tour we hopped in a taxi bound for our first review at Resto Seb.
The following morning we were up bright and early to take the hotel shuttle to the resort.We were the only ones wandering about at 8am. It felt a bit like a ghost town especially since we were greeted at the entrance by a ski gondola in the height of summer. We arrived at a cute little cottage covered in fresh potted flowers where we would be having an unforgettable breakfast at the much lauded Creperie Catherine.
Once finished our crepe feast we were picked up by another taxi and on our way to the Scandinave Spa for an afternoon of rest, relaxation and pampering. We were dropped off in a gravel parking lot and walked towards a large wooden gate which featured the Spa logo, a booming Viking ship. The experience was entirely tranquil as we walked over a wooden bridge, through lush forest and past petite log cabins. We were greeted by the Spa Manager who immediately took us on a tour of the property. Our guide advised us that Scandinave has properties in Montreal, Blue Mountain and Whistler, but was keen to point out that the Mont Tremblant location offers a unique experience as it is located inside a shaded forest overlooking a river.
The Scandinave really is something out of a fairy tale so be sure to put it on your itinerary when visiting Tremblant. Also note the Silence is Golden rule, people come here to relax so chit chat is discouraged. We spent the next two hours soaking it all in: first in the hot pool followed by a dunk in the cold pool which featured a pounding waterfall. Once our bodies had woken up we stumbled into the steam room which smelled of menthol and really cleared up the lungs.
We walked down to the river where a small patio overlooks the river. There were several hammocks delicately swaying in the breeze. I sat on a Muskoka chair reading Toronto Life magazine for about 30 minutes before sliding on my flip flops and heading back to the lodge where I enjoyed a one hour Swedish massage. I met mom at the cafe after we had both finished our massages and freshened up in the showers. I grabbed us a few light snacks which featured a Quiche Lorraine served with orzo salad and two sweet treats: moist pineapple and coconut cupcake and hazelnut olala.
We then hopped in a taxi bound for the resort (which was now full of tourists as it was midday) and took a gondola up to the top of the mountain. It was a bit funny walking about in 40 degree heat with ski run signs and chair lifts dangling in the air. Mom spotted a family of deer off in the distance while we marched to a viewpoint which offered a great panorama of Lake Mont Tremblant and the surrounding Laurentians.
We hopped back on the gondola and while slowly swaying down the mountain I flipped open my Mont Tremblant International Blues Festival timetable. We were very fortunate to be in the region during this popular annual summer music festival. Once back on solid ground we walked towards the crowds which were swaying in the summer breeze and clapping to the Jim Zeller duo on harmonica and guitar.
It was now just after 5pm and we were sweating to death. I remember I could feel my heart beat pulsating across my forehead. We decided to head directly to Hotel Quintessence to cool off and prepare for our dinner at the regions most acclaimed luxury hotel. As we walked across the front lawn and towards the entrance we couldn’t help but notice the parking lot was full of Ferrari, Maserati, Porsche, BMW and Mercedes. We spent the evening wining and dining at the hotel’s stunning Resto Quintessence.
After dinner we waddled back down to the base of the resort where crowds were dancing to The Lowrider Band at Place des Voyageurs. The sun had set and the stage glowed with moody Blues lighting. The band pelted out tunes as the crowd raised their hands towards the stars. After an exhausting day we waved farewell to the croon of Blues and hopped in a taxi bound for Beauvallon.
The following morning we enjoyed a relaxing brunch at the Fairmont Tremblant’s Windigo Restaurant. Once we had a sufficient caffeine buzz we took a nice stroll along Lake Tremblant which offered up fantastic views of purple flower dotted ponds and reed filled bogs. We power walked past a cute little heritage church and smiled across the sunshine addicts tanning themselves along the lakes pristine beachfront.
Once at the Marina we turned around and walked back to the resort where we had a lunch reservation at Microbrasserie La Diable. Once finished filling up on lunch we decided to head back to our hotel where we spent the afternoon sipping on Sangria poolside. Once sufficiently hot enough mom and I slipped ourselves into the pool to cool off. After a quick shower we spent our evening dining at Bon Vivant located just beyond the hotel’s lobby.
The following morning we woke up full to the brim. What a weekend of excessive dining! Once we had packed up our things we checked out at the front desk and took a taxi to the old (original) village of Mont Tremblant. It was a Monday morning so most of the shops were closed but we were happy just to wander and peak through the windows. We came across a massive sign promoting the Ironman which would be taking place in August. We were in Tremblant for a total of four days and I can’t tell you how excited the locals are to host this prestigious international competition! Whenever the topic comes up (usually initiated by a taxi driver or hotel manager) they all have a twinkle in their eye and a grin across their faces.
Just before lunch we stopped at Place de la Gare, a cute little art space run by local sculptors and painters, located in the towns hundred year old train station. We had a nice chat with one of the artists in residence about the history of the building and fellow artists. What I found most interesting is the rail way tracks have been covered up and now act as a popular bicycle route. We let her know where we were having lunch and she smiled and popper her arm out the door. Hilarious that our final restaurant review was located at the building directly across from the art gallery, at the regions most historical lodging, Hotel Mont Tremblant’s Resto Pub Au Coin.
Before sitting down to eat we were offered a tour of the property by the hotelier. I absolutely fell in love with the bar and restaurant with its historical impact and vintage antique interior. The space features a long bar with dart board and pool table as well as a formal dining room. In the summer everyone treats themselves to lunch on the patio which provides an excellent perch for people watching.
Once finished our meal we called a taxi and instructed him to stop off at a liquor store so I could buy three bottles of Quebec Cider to take home. I purchased three very different products: Neige which I sampled at Resto Seb, a fortified brandy infused cider as well as a sparkling cider made by Michel Jodoin and a crisp quaffer “Legende d’Automne.” I quickly stuffed these three bottles into my suitcase in the Chateau Beaullavon lobby moments before we were picked up by our shuttle bound for the airport.
I waved salut to the lovely woman at the front desk and soon found myself waiting in the departure lounge for our Porter flight to board. I stared up at the pine ceilings and reflected on my weekend. Mont Tremblant is a stunning destination which offers entertainment and outdoor excitement 365 days a year. While the resort was initially established as a winter retreat, it now has a summer sunshine allure featuring a plethora of golf courses, waterfront activities, magical gondola rides, spa access and top notch dining. Tremblant, I think I fell in love.