Mont-Tremblant for skiing? Of course. But here are 11 other ways to keep the kids busy this winter at the Laurentian resort
Mont-Tremblant’s history as a ski resort dates back to the American gold prospector Joseph Bondurant Ryan, who was so impressed with the area after landing a plane at the foot of the mountain and climbing to the summit in 1937, that he built North America’s largest ski village here two years later.
But long before that, Mont-Tremblant — the mythic “trembling mountain” — got its name from the Algonquin people who named it after the god of the wilderness who was thought to throw rocks down the mountainside when he was angry.
Today it’s giddy families who tremble with excitement when they pull up to this impressive four-season European-style resort in the heart of Quebec’s Laurentian mountains, located between Ottawa and Montreal. This is a place, after all, that’s been voted the best resort in eastern North America by Ski Magazine for 19 years and has also been named among the top 25 ski villages in the world by National Geographic.
Its 600 acres of skiable terrain features 96 trails on four distinct slope sides leading up to one of the tallest peaks in the Laurentians (almost 3,000 ft.) and down to an elaborate and enchanting pedestrian village with more than 75 shops, including brasseries, boutiques and bistros (a heated gondola transports you up and down the mountain in style). Nearly all the lifts merge at one meeting point at the top and, with 21 easy runs, new skiers have plenty of room to roam. An added bonus: there’s a dedicated area for newbie snowboarders aged three to six, and the kid-friendly Tam-Tam Trail is enhanced with assorted games and obstacles — as well as eight sculptures of animals that live in the Laurentian forest.
But Mont-Tremblant is also a place where families can do a whole lot more than ski. It’s a place where winter truly is a wonderland. This may be one of the coldest family vacations you’ll ever take (January temperatures can dip to -15ºC), but it’ll also be one of the coolest.
Here are 11 ways to make winter rock at Mont-Tremblant:
1. Climb a frozen waterfall: Strap on crampons and learn basic ice climbing techniques.
2. Go for a skate: Take a spin on the rink in front of picturesque St. Bernard Chapel then warm up by the adjacent fire pits.
3. Snow-tubing: Glide down a floodlit slope on an inner-tube in the dark of night.
4. Hop on a snowmobile: Did you know snowmobiles were invented in Quebec? Snowmobile tours take you through a boreal forest in the upper Laurentians.
5. Dogsledding: Help harness a team of Siberian Huskies and drive them over long winding trails.
6. Snowshoe and fondue tour: From the summit, guides will lead you on a 5 km-snowshoe moonlit trek to a cosy cabin for a fondue by a roaring wood fire.
7. Glide on a sleigh ride: A storyteller and musician entertain passengers with legends of Tremblant and Québécois folk songs as a two-horse team saunters over the fields.
8. Zip around on a fat bike: Electric fat bikes make it easy to glide over snow tracks that meander through the forest and by a lake.
9. Cross-country skiing: There’s no end to cross-country adventures with 75 km of mechanically groomed trails and 14 km of Nordic skiing spread across 25 sq. km.
10. Ice-fishing: Expose your kids to this authentic Canadian winter pastime on a frozen lake surrounded by mountains.
11. Holiday fun: Mont-Tremblant makes the holiday season truly special — buskers stroll through the pedestrian village, fire pits create a magical setting, and Santa leads the Torchlight Parade on Christmas. On New Year’s the village lights up with fireworks at midnight.
Where to stay:
Accommodations range from luxury suites to quaint cottages and modern condos. The 314-room luxury Fairmont Tremblant, which has recently undergone a $6 million renovation, is perfectly situated at the base of the mountain with easy ski-in-ski-out access. Guests receive a number of free perks, including tubing, a free skate loan and a “first tracks” privilege, which gets you on the hills 45 minutes before everyone else in the morning.
Mont-Tremblant’s 2017 ski season starts on November 23. There will be a red carpet rollout and a guard of honour that forms at 8:30 a.m. You can bet there’ll be a lineup.