For some reason, after getting destroyed by snow in New York City, my family decided to take a ski trip to Mont Tremblant in Quebec, Canada. Okay, I know the reason, my wife wanted to ski. And since we are expecting our fourth child later this year, skiing time was quickly fleeting. I myself am not a very good skier – actually I am terrible at it. So I picked up snowboarding, which it turns out I’m terrible at as well. Being the good sport that I am, though, and considering my family’s love of snow, we drove the seven hours from NYC to the wintery mountains of Quebec.
We stayed at the Marriott Residence Inn because the rooms include a kitchen and the garage is attached to the hotel, but we ended up loving it for much more than those reasons. The outdoor hot tub was a fun little experience for my kids and we ran from the doors to the steaming water and back as icicles formed on our hair. The hotel was also in a great location in the pedestrian village at the bottom of the mountain, and there is a passenger lift within 100 yards that takes you to the main gondola and lifts. The hotel is also close to many restaurants and activities. (Which I’ll get into.) Like the other hotels in the area, beautiful views can be found out almost every window. It is hard to have a bad view in Tremblant.
The best thing we did while in Tremblant was enroll my 3 kids (ages 10, 8, and 3) in ski school. I loved watching my 3 year old ski from a distance. He was quite adorable. Not only did my kids get to learn how to ski from some fantastic and patient instructors, but it also gave my wife and I some time together free of the kids. And since my wife is much better on the slopes than I am, it also offered time for me to be alone on the mountain. Which was quite nice as well… for both of us. I must confess that at one point while my kids were in ski school and my wife was on the mountain, I went into a bar and had a couple of pints. Having that freedom was great and made it feel like a real vacation. (Come on stay-at-home parents, you know what I’m talking about.) And my kids became really solid skiers by the end of the trip.
There are also a lot of great activities for families besides skiing in the village, such as a tour on dune buggies through the snow, dog sledding, ice skating, and horse drawn sleigh rides. On our “rest” day, we hit up the Aquaclub LaSource, a large indoor pool with slides, shallow pools for infants, a hot tub, and a rope swing. The rope swing was a huge hit with my 10 year old, but not so much my 3 year old. It was the perfect way to spend a wintery day and regain energy for another day of skiing.
We ate at four restaurants while in Tremblant: La Savoie, Microbrasserie La Diable, Le Shack, and Bullseye Saloon and Grill, and also hit up Le Grand Manito, the cafeteria on the mountain summit. And I should also mention that we had some amazing taffy made out of maple syrup on snow at Sugar Shack.
La Savoie was a great dining experience and satisfied the cheese lover that is my wife. The restaurant specializes in cheese fondue and raclettes – cheese melted under a heat lamp right at your table. The fun part with raclettes is that whoever sits at the end has the job of dishing out the cheese as soon as it runs off the giant slab. My son had this task and was quickly tired out of having to pass the cheese. We also ordered bread, meat, and vegetables to go along with our melting cheese.
Bullseye Saloon is a Southwest American style restaurant and offers up great burgers for those that burned up a lot of energy out on the slopes. Le Shack is right at the base of the mountain by the lifts and gondola and is a great place to stop for lunch while on the slopes. La Diable was my favorite place to grab a beer and they brew their own beer right on the premises. La Diable also had great appetizers. Le Grand Manito has soup, salads, sandwiches, pasta, and other high carb foods to give you energy to get down the mountain, not to mention hot chocolate and beautiful views.
* * *
My family loved Mont Tremblant so much that we plan on making our visit an annual trip. The people that we ran into were laid back and kind (I hear that is the Canadian way) and the village was beautiful and full of things to do. The food satisfied me and rounded out what ended up being a perfect vacation.
In a nutshell:
If you are visiting for several days, I recommend taking one day to stay off the slopes and enjoy the town. Put kids in ski school, jump in a hot tub with the world freezing around you, hang out for a couple of hours at Aquaclub, and drink beer at La Diable. Do those things and you’ll have an amazing time. Of course, you’ll probably have a great time even if you don’t do those things, because you’ll find a host of other things to do. Finally, bring WARM clothes – it’s significantly colder in Quebec than it is on the rest of the East Coast or out west. If you dress appropriately, though, it won’t detract at all.