I think I’m addicted to Tremblant.
After our first visit with the kids to Quebec’s top ski resort, we came home and immediately started planning our second trip. But this time: no kids.
Nope. This time, we left them at home (not alone, of course — no need to call CAS) and grabbed a quick Porter flight back to our winter paradise. Not only did we have big plans for sleeping in (thank you, Holiday Inn Suites) and a bunch of activities that we couldn’t do the first time around for one reason or another, but I was pretty excited to see what the Tremblant village was like after 8 p.m.
It didn’t disappoint.
Here’s what you and your partner can get up to in just two-and-a-half days at Tremblant when you aren’t spending 30 per cent of your time dressing, feeding, carrying, cleaning and disciplining two extra humans:
This is basically the perfect way to unwind at the end of a long week — especially if you just hopped off an airplane. If you’re unfamiliar with the Scandinave brand, it’s a small chain of upscale spas featuring Nordic-inspired baths. Indoor and outdoor experiences lull your mind and body into complete relaxation. Think Silly Putty and you’re on the right track.
Following a “hot, cold, relax” hydrotherapy series — which takes you from steam rooms, saunas or hot tubs to cold plunges to Muskoka chairs in a moderately temperate room, when you follow each step, it leaves your body primed for the bath’s therapeutic benefits, like stress relief and improved circulation.
This is a great way to reconnect with your partner. Without words. Because Scandinave embraces total silence. I admit that I wasn’t completely silent during our two-hour visit. And that’s because I got the full Tremblant Scandinave experience by plunging into the ice-cold Diablo River as one of my cold circuits. I yelped. It was the coldest water I’ve ever stepped foot in, let alone gone into all the way up to my neck. Big B braved the Diablo and even stepped off the platform, breaking through the ice and going all the way under.
Our only regret was not adding a couples’ massage at the end of our stay. And in terms of offsetting the cost of entry into the baths, that’s the way to do it, because you pay substantially less if you’re also getting a massage.
I won’t be making that mistake twice.
While you don’t need to be a skier to enjoy yourself at Tremblant, that’s what the vast majority of winter visitors to the resort are doing. I was excited to get back on the hill that made me fall in love with the sport, and we booked a lesson as a twosome.
I swear it’s worth doing a lesson regardless of your level. Here are just a few reasons:
- If you’re with an instructor, you get to skip the queue for the gondola. And unless you’re at the gondola by 8 a.m., this could mean a savings of 30 to 50 minutes of your time right off the hop. Oh, and then you get to skip the lines for the chair lifts, too.
- If you’re new to the mountain, you’ll have an expert who can show you which hills to navigate — and of course how within both your comfort and skill level. And push you, too.
- You can always learn and improve something, even if you’ve been skiing for years.
Following a 1.5-hour lesson, I felt ready to do a few runs on my own — marking the first time since I started skiing in December that I was comfortable without an instructor by my side. And guess what? I didn’t fall. I wasn’t nervous. And I loved every second. Here’s Big B himself as we do the 6 km Nansen Trail run, which takes you through some of the prettiest winter foliage you ever did see:
Snowmobiling, horse-sledding and huskies (oh my!)
You know how I just mentioned that you don’t have to ski to have fun here? Well, in addition to all of the non-snow-sporty things we did during our family trip to Tremblant, we also tried a few new things during this couples’-only visit, too.
Snowmobiling — organized through Tremblant’s Activity Centre — is a must if you’re a thrill-seeker who has the need for speed, Tom Cruise-style. You need three hours from beginning to end for this activity: about 25 minutes to get there, 15 minutes to suit up and get your “sled” figured out, 1.5 hours to zip around the local trails with your guide, and then time to un-suit and return to the resort.
And let me tell you, that hour-and-a-half goes by FAST. The adage that time flies when you’re having fun is paramount here, and snowmobiling through some of the province’s best-groomed trails will definitely leave you wanting more. We passed through hundreds of snow-tipped trees, rode alongside a lake frozen but for a small patch of river that just wouldn’t give into winter, saw a snowshoe hare dart past us, and were safely guided — often reaching 65 kmph (which, believe me, feels significantly faster on a sled than in a car!) — across streets and around fellow snowmobilers.
Although I could have driven with Big B, I opted to experience snowmobiling firsthand instead. Thank God! Because it was AWESOME. (And if you’re wondering if kids can do it too, the answer is yes. There’s room for a second passenger behind the driver and kids aged five and up can ride for an additional fee. They’ll also be strapped to the driver so neither you nor they need to worry about holding on tight the whole time.)
I had no idea what I was getting myself into when we agreed to try horse-sledding. But the fact was that Big B was simply too heavy for doglsedding, which maxes out at a 240-lb. weight limit. Expedition Wolf, which has been Tremblant’s doglsedding partner for years, has been working for the past year to create the world’s first horse-sledding experience, and finally started taking public reservations last month.
Budget a good four to five hours for this excursion, and be sure that you’ve got your big-girl panties on for this one. If you’re nervous around animals, can’t stomach a little unpredictability, or hate speed, this might not be the right activity for you. However, if you want to experience a minimum of 1.5 hours of uninterrupted action and be able to make the claim that you’re one of the world’s first horse-sledders, please book this activity immediately.
Here’s the guide, followed by Big B and me, about halfway through our run:
It was fast (do NOT underestimate those miniature horses!) and SO MUCH FUN. You do need to learn how to turn and stop a horse if that’s not a skill you already have, and the modified dogsled takes a bit of getting used to. But once you get the hang of it, it’s what I called a bucket list item I didn’t even know I had.
Now, although we weren’t at Expedition Wolf to dogsled, we still got to take part in what I think must be one of the great highlights of the dogsledding tours. Everyone gets to give the dogs treats, and then — one by one — help take them into the kennel area. Whatever image you may have dogsledding outfits, trust me when I tell you that these dogs are LOVED. And they’re incredibly well-socialized and absolutely adore people. They’re excited to run and work, and they’re just as excited to get back home to see all their buddies.
I personally got to take six huskies in, all of which were super friendly (even if their leash skills were somewhat questionable). During our kennel tour, I played with, petted and generally doted on at least another dozen dogs. We learned that 120 of their 300-odd pups are rescues who were taken in, rehabilitated, trained and given both love and purpose. I could have stayed all afternoon. This is a good company.
Eating, eating and more eating
Let’s not kid around. I love to eat. And the only thing I like more than eating is trying new things to eat.
The good news for me is that there’s no shortage of great food at Mont Tremblant. Without the kids, we were able to be a lot more leisurely and visit restaurants in which I know my kids would have zero interest.
Located in the Fairmont hotel, chances are you’ll have a great view of the night tubing while you dine in this exquisite restaurant. If you’re into fine dining without the associated snobbery, you’ve met your match. Come as you are — dressed up or in jeans (or even in your ski duds since there’s ski-in/out access!) — and be prepared to feel your tastebuds dance. Every dish hit the mark, and you’ll be sorry if you don’t at least order the following:
- Seafood chowder — because there’s a reason why it’s been on the menu for 14 years
- Beef carpaccio, which is like butter. Except it’s meat. So that’s magical
- Duck poutine (because Quebec)
- Onion soup, topped with Oka cheese
- Beef short rib
Nansen Lounge offers you an opportunity to splurge a little, so take the wine list and run with it. Order something you’ve never tried before. I almost exclusively drink California cabs, but after doing three little tasters of a few house wines, I discovered a wonderful Chianti and we ordered a bottle. It was a little more than what we’d normally spend on wine in a restaurant, but being away together without the kids was celebration-worthy. And so was that Chianti!
So you’ve heard of raclette? Maybe you even think you’ve tried it, like I had. But unless you’ve been somewhere like La Savoie, which honours traditional raclette done in the French fashion, you ain’t tried nothin’ yet. First, a contraption that could be confused with a torture device from gothic times appears at your table, sporting half a wheel (no joke) of cheese that’s been imported from Savoie, France, for your dining pleasure.
This thing is plugged in and adjusted to start the cheese-melting process. Then comes the sliced baguette, the cured meats, boiled potatoes, pickles and pickled onions. Now you’re presented with two options: let the cheese melt and drip down over a dish of foodie things, or take your knife and scrape the newly melted cheese onto a side plate and use it how you wish. For research purposes, I did both. I assure you either is a fine choice.
So tip No. 1 is order the raclette dinner. Tip No. 2 is order wine that’s from the same Savoie region as the cheese (available by the glass). Tip No. 3 is to leave room for chocolate fondue. But my biggest tip for La Savoie is to make reservations — and make them early. With only about 12 tables in the whole restaurant, which has two seatings for dinner each day (that’s it!), reservations are the only way in.
I wasn’t sure that eating Chinese food at Tremblant was going to make my must-eat list. That is, until I ate at O Wok. From crispy fish fritters with a delicate balance of heat and perfectly done dumplings to the Szechuan shrimp and General Tao chicken, both of which are adorned with fresh flowers, I’m convinced that there isn’t a bad meal to be had here.
O Wok is located near the Holiday Inn in the lower section of the village, making it a great option if you’d rather not make your way up to the top to get really great food.
If you’re looking for a great burger and craft beers, La Diable (also in the lower village) is a good choice. It’s a microbrewery and every patron gets a beer flight to try the house specialties. I’m not a beer drinker, but I’m also not one to turn my nose up at a new experience, so I played along and even found a beer I quite liked.
For breakfast, you MUST go to La Maison de la Crêpe (lower village). Order anything. I’m confident it’s all going to be just as tasty as my spicy sausage crepe with cinnamon apples and aged cheddar, dripping in bechamel sauce.
And after breakfast, head up the cabriolet and walk to your left. Across from the liquor store, you’ll find a lovely little cafe called Au Grain de Café — also the oldest cafe on the mountain. They have arguably the best teas and coffees in the village (try the matcha latté, for reals), and it’s also a cute nook to just hang out and send out a few Instagrams to make all your friends a little envious of your kid-free getaway.
Oh! And while you’re there, be sure to stick a pin in it. Your hometown, that is. There’s a big board just inside the main doors at Au Grain de Café that beautifully illustrates how international Tremblant really is. I stuck a pin in Courtice. Represent.
Mont Tremblant after dark
I think one of my favourite things about visiting Tremblant without our kids was being able to see it all lit up at night. There’s a fire burning in the heart of Place St-Bernard (at what seems like all hours of the day and night), with people huddled around it making small talk and laughing. The holiday lights are still up right now, so there are huge wreaths lighting the pathways and trees adorned in lights at every turn.
But the best part of all? The stores are open until, like, 10 p.m.! And this is a great time to shop. Have dinner and shop your way back to your hotel. Whether you need (er, want) yoga gear, skis or snowboards, a fabulous toque, a fur muff, leather jacket or a gorgeous outfit to wear to dinner the next night — it’s all here. Do keep in mind, however, that there’s a three per cent tourist royalty, on top of provincial and federal taxes, that’s levied on every purchase. This is an important piece of keeping Tremblant so accessible (think snow removal and salting) and why it can offer so many free events throughout the year. But on a bigger-ticket item, you’re going to feel the pain a little because of it. That said, it didn’t stop me…I may have shopped as much as I ate.
And with that, our glorious weekend came to an end. We snuck in one last ski run before we had to catch our airport shuttle, grabbed a coffee and went home — refreshed and ready to be parents again.
Well, that and we started planning our next Tremblant visit…