By Sandra Kofler, Travel Correspondent
Convenient Condo Living Amid Mountain Splendor
The Laurentian Mountains are one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world, and they look it. A certain untamed, primeval aura hangs about the landscape, which should come as no surprise given that it’s made up of rocks more than 540 million years old. At Cap Tremblant mountain resort, the pristine waters of Lac Mercier, the snow-capped peak of Mont-Tremblant, and 200 acres of undulating evergreens contribute to the wilderness vibe. Yet a stay at Cap Tremblant hardly constitutes roughing it. The sprawling main lodge harbors adornments such as crackling fireplaces and a chandelier-crowned lobby. The resort's scattered condominium residences feature a plethora of homelike creature comforts enriched by awe-inspiring views.
Each two-bedroom condo includes spacious sleeping chambers, a living room with a sofa bed, and a fully equipped kitchen. Percale bed linens and shining modern appliances impart a sense of comfortable domesticity, and rustic textures and deep-hued hardwood furniture maintain a mountain-cabin feel without a mountain cabin's typical lumberjack infestations. A full arsenal of kitchenware helps visitors whip up wintertime roasts and stews after a quick trip to the charming, adjacent old village for groceries.
Alternatively, French and Belgian chefs prepare variations on their native cuisines at the resort's fine-dining restaurant, il Pinnacolo, whose mussels, hand-made pizzas, and grilled fillets complement 270-degree views on a glass-enclosed terrace. Among the three pool areas, a cool plunge pool at the Ocean Pavilion allows for bracing outdoor dips all year round. Outdoor hot tubs, flanked by heated stone walkways, also stay open during the winter, allowing visitors to steep themselves in roiling warmth. A pair of virtual-golf simulators ($25+ CAN/hour a person) let players tee off on 34 different courses without ever leaving the resort.
Mont-Tremblant, Quebec: Alpine Adventure and Scenic Villages
The Mont-Tremblant area is comprised of three distinct village settings: the downtown area of Ste-Jovite, Mont-Tremblant's old village, and the Tremblant pedestrian village. Located just downhill from the resort on the banks of sparkling Lac Mercier, the old village offers quaint shops and a worldly variety of fine- and casual-dining options. Mont-Tremblant's most bustling district, however, is the pedestrian village—or "the resort," as locals call it—a playground of activities for outdoor adventurers, gourmands, and nightlife seekers that’s situated about 3 miles from Cap Tremblant. Crêperie Catherine's sweet and savory folded breakfast treasures provide the bodily rocket fuel to propel explorers during the snowy months. The region's tremendously popular winter activities kick off on November 24, when the mountain's 95 ski trails open for the season and the area’s equally robust après-skiing lounges and brasseries begin catering to customers fresh from the slopes.
About 6 miles south of the old village lies downtown Ste-Jovite, which invites casual strolls along its main boulevard, where local boutiques mingle with neighborhood ice-cream shops and local pubs with sprawling outdoor terraces. At night, local favorite Le Grill/Pub Saint-Georges pumps dance hits and pours a variety of draft beers on its pub side until 1 a.m. and serves upscale cuisine on its restaurant side until 10 p.m. Back at the resort village, much of the area's nightlife is concentrated at dance and tippling outposts such as Bar Café D'Époque .