By DAYANTI KARUNARATNE
When a property management company called Tremblant Living reached out to me about visiting Mont Tremblant earlier this year, I was intrigued. After ten years in Ottawa I had never been to the well-known Quebec ski resort — I thought I had turned my back on the ski industry as such when I moved here in 2003. (I would be a journalist, not a ski bum!)
Alas, it seems you can take the girl out of the mountains but you can’t take the mountains out of the girl. That urge to head for the hills, especially in late November, when the first snow fall has served as a reminder of all the fun things winter brings, is still firmly part of my psyche. And so I packed up my two-year-old, my husband, and my dog — along with plenty of gear, wine, and cheese — and headed east.
First off, I was surprised how quick the drive was. It’s not an easy drive, per se, there are plenty of twists and turns along Highway 50, but we arrived in less than two and half hours. I was also surprised at how few roadside eateries we passed — there’s really only a gas station with a small, overpriced grocery store. So best stock up before you go! Or inquire about “fridge fills” — Tremblant Living offers these, and they’re definitely better than what you’ll find in Brébeuf.
Now, I’ve been inside of plenty of slopeside condos, but the four-bedroom townhouse we stayed at really blew my mind. It might be because it wasn’t the temporary crash pad of five work-hard/party-hard 25-year-old guys, as was the case with most of the condos I enjoyed “après ski” in Sun Peaks and Panorama. No, this place was impeccable, with huge baths, two fireplaces, a hot tub, the works. I soon found myself wishing for a huge dump so we would be forced to stay an extra day.
A huge dump did not arrive, but I was on the hill on Saturday morning anyway. I thought my ski bum instincts would kick in, but the Mont Tremblant village is bigger than I expected. Pay parking, a tram to get to the gondola, and lots of people who were clearly there to shop (and eat, and drink) rather than ski. I expected to be murmuring “kids these days” and “city slickers” like a curmudgeon. Instead, I realized the that, rather than infringing on my ski time, the amenities at Mont Tremblant — the shopping, dining, kiddie play stuff — actually brings me closer to more ski time.
How? Because now I can convince more family and friends to make this our destination. I can ski while they dine/shop/rock their snow-bunny attire. Everyone wins! And this is even more so when you have the luxury of ski-in/ski-out accommodation. Pop in for lunch or nap time with the toddler! Then ski back to the action …
Because even with the marginal skiing conditions I expected on opening day, the adrenalin that weekend was palpable. As someone who learned to ski in London, Ont. (yes, we have a hill!), and continues to enjoy skiing “local” hills like Camp Fortune, I’m still surprised when I get winded or tired on a run. (Or maybe I’m getting older? Nah.) Long runs, a good base of man-made snow, and a dusting of the real stuff, plus all those stoked skiers made for a great day on Mont Tremblant. And my family hardly missed me.