So, you’d think that two nights at the Fairmont at one of Quebec’s finest ski hills, plus two days of skiing, could not feasibly be considered a “reasonable” weekend trip from a cost perspective. However, if you are married to an IATA card holder (or in this case, married to someone who still has his IATA card but is no longer working in the travel industry and is trying to get the most bang for his buck before it expires in June) you may understand the perks that I am about to detail: Fairmont, regularly priced at $269 (minimum) per night, we got for $89. The ski passes, usually $80 per full-day, we got for $40 through some special ticket outlet online (non-refundable or transferable, so there is a risk …. but there’s also a heck of a reward!) Meals out were also similar in cost to those in Ottawa (which totally surprised me) and while we did indulge (e.g. a margarita and a daiquiri in the pool for a hefty $10 a hit) we generally limited ourselves to pub-type things like nachos, wings, burgers (all that health food) rather than go out for fondue or a four-course meal. Overall, the weekend at Tremblant was amazing and did not break the bank. We would go back in a heart-beat.
Our visit took place on the last weekend before the ski hill closed. As such, the snow was very soft (and the temperatures well above zero – yay!!) so not the ideal conditions, but also not the worst. I have to say, I do prefer skiing in soft-ish (and yes, sometimes slow) snow over icy conditions or blistery cold weather. Yes, even if I were given the choice between -15 weather and powdery snow blanketing the ground, versus 10 degree weather and somewhat slushy conditions, I’d pick the latter. I just can’t focus on enjoying myself when I feel like I am expending all my mental and physical energy on fighting hypothermia. Anyways, only about a third of the 95 runs were open, but that was fine with us! There were little to no line-ups to get up the gondola or the chairs, and to top it all off – we were able to ski right to the hotel as it was the closest one to the hill (kind of on the hill, actually). The whole experience was painless … well, minus the shin, calf and quad pain we both felt from being completely deconditioned.
HOTEL – FAIRMONT:
We were able to check in right away (9am) which was amazing given the place was apparently booked solid. Our room was modern with a mountain view, and the hotel staff were all super friendly. The pool and hot-tub was also lovely and situated right on the mountain. Unfortunately though, it was hard to “people watch” (i.e. gawk at talented skiiers/boarders, point and laugh at people who probably ski as poorly as you). That is one thing I love abut the Fairmont Chateau Whistler – the hot-tub and outdoor pool has incredible people watching! Alas, I digress …
FOOD & VILLAGE:
We like to eat. We like to eat well, but we also like to eat fun, unhealthy foods (to the point where I have been to wake-up on a Sunday and just crave raw vegetables and fruit and water because my body feels like it is dying inside). Well the good thing about doing something active (like skiing or hiking) is that you work up an appetite and can more comfortably justify pigging out! It’s all about balance, right? So we indulged in a few patios, and thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the sun and drinking beer to wash down the following (remember this was over a two day period only): nachos, deep-fried pickles, wings, onion rings, chicken tenders, fries, popcorn shrimp, pizza ….. Oh my god that is actually horrifying to write out! I am kind of grossed out, but not grossed out enough to never do it again. You know, kind of like McDonalds. So, the food at a few of the patios close to the hill was OK, not great however the people watching, sunshine and super friendly service made up for the lack of extravagant grub.
With that said, there were a few places we tried that we would 100% recommend (yes … we ate more). The prices were also surprisingly reasonable (I had heard Tremblant was pricey, as you would expect from a tourist destination – not the case):
(1) La Diable (http://www.microladiable.com/): A cute, cozy micro-brewery with great service and a warm ambience. Ryan and I had our usual “senior’s special” dinner (i.e. we ate at like, 545pm) and I ordered the lamb burger with a salad (yes, I did ingest something green during that 48 hour period!) and Ryan got the regular burger and fries. My burger was the best lamb burger I’d ever had – it was lean enough, not greasy, but very flavorful and perfectly seasoned. The microgreens were piled high and the balsamic dressing was great. Ryan’s burger was equally fresh tasting, nicely grilled and plentiful. His fries were delish and home-cooked (as in fresh potatoes, deep fried rather than frozen and pre-cooked). It makes SUCH a difference. Our meals were really reasonable ($16 or so each) which is really no different than a pub like the Royal Oak in Ottawa (and the food here is so, soooo much better). Our server was also really friendly and efficient, but not over-bearing. Oh, and next time we’d try the rib platter because it looked ridiculously finger-lickin’.
(2) Pizza at Yaoooo Pizza Bar (Yes, there are that many “O’s” and yes that really is the name) (http://www.yaoooo.com/menus/): We came here after the above-mentioned glutonous afternoon of patio lounging, and subsequent to having already imbibed a lot of beer, wine and fried food (read: we were not remotely hungry). We arrived at around 430 or 5pm on a Saturday evening, after the Caribou slush event (google it, it’s entertaining) and were surprised to see how many young people (i.e. younger than us, like 20-27) were loitering about at the various adjacent patios. There were even people packed into the walkways between the pubs, some donning ski/board clothes, others in regular clothing. It was a mixed bag, but one thing was for sure – everyone was in vacation mode. The Yaoooo (I keep having to count the ‘o’s) had space on the patio, which filled up fast so we were lucky to grab a spot when we did. We ordered a pizza and more wine and beer because we are fun like that. I expected to have one piece for good measures and leave it at that, given the fact that I was already beyond satiated. Well let me tell you, it was some of the best thin-crust pizza (soft and fresh dough) I’ve ever had (we ordered the Mexican) – and we finished it. The cheese was perfect, there was a spicy kick to it and it was not at all greasy nor were the toppings sparse. It costs us $16, and was definitely enough for two people to split and be comfortably full … or in our case, on the verge of exploding. Highly recommend this place, and this pizza.
(3) Creperie Catherine (http://www.creperiecatherine.ca/): After a solid 9 or 10 hours of sleep (i.e. in bed by 7, asleep by 10 – hockey playoffs were on – both nights) we still felt the food hangover! Nonetheless, we decided to face the difficult task of eating more and going for the infamous crepes at Creperie Catherine. Haha. First world problems coming at you left, right and centre, eh? Anyways, this little place is probably 15 steps away from the aforementioned pizza place and is cute as as button. There are shelves lined with chef figures (from chunky porcelain french men to dog dolls wearing aprons). The waitresses seemed genuinely happy to be there (and some were quite a bit older – in their 60’s) and you could see the crepes being made in the tiny kitchen right beside the tables. I ordered the “Catherine” (ham, cheese, eggs, mushrooms … nom nom – no bechamel, though you could have gotten that too). Ryan had the “Expert” (stuffed with goodies and served with sausage, ham and baked beans on the side). We were both SO impressed. The ingredients were fresh, the crepes were SO full of goodies and the crepe itself was perfect – tender, crispy and yet soft and just sweet enough. We would both go back and next time I’d like to try the seafood or the mushroom crepe. The menu is like 5 pages long so you could go back many, many times and still not make a dent.
In summary, it was a great weekend in a lovely, quaint ski village, with perfect weather, amazing food and service, super accommodations (didn’t hurt that we got 66% percent off, not gonna lie) and wonderful company. To anyone living around the area – go to Mont Tremblant, even for one night. It’s just over two hours from Ottawa and the drive is fairly scenic (compared to the Ottawa-Montreal drive). We will definitely be back next year … Now, to keep our eyes peeled for Groupons and specials, as we say a sad goodbye to Ryan’s IATA card *sniff, sniff.