17 December 2012
Sue McAlinden, Product Manager at Wexas, has just recently returned from the Province of Quebec - here are her highlights.
Ritz Carlton & Montreal
My arrival in Montreal was accompanied with high expectations. I was to stay at the recently re-opened Ritz Carlton Montreal, which had undergone a $200 million, 3-year refurbishment - and what a delight it was. The original façade of the hotel has been preserved as well as the Lobby, the Palm Court and the Oval Room reflecting the glory days of this Grand Dame. It would have been easily recognised by some of it's former residents including the Queen Mother, Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, Richard Nixon, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the Rolling Stones and Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, who celebrated their first marriage at the hotel.
However it was the rooms that left one agog. Hidden behind discreet buttons and panels was every conceivable electronic gadget designed for effortless living. Blinds rose and fell, en-suites flushed, oscillated and cleansed. TV's and sound systems cocooned you whether in bath or bed. Thermostats that intuitively remember your preferred temperature preferences upon check-in, and motion sensors that activate lights when guests enter a dark room.
The attention to detail continued throughout the hotel even to the point where the garden's resident ducklings are replaced as and when they ‘grow-up'. I hasten to add they do not end up appearing on the menu at 3-star Michelin Chef Daniel Boulud's renowned restaurant.
We were introduced to Montreal by our guide Judy - a resident who truly delights in showing off her city. Insider tips included a stop off at Schwartz's - serving the best smoked meat made from a recipe dating back to 1928 and the Fairmont Bagel bakery where we left clutching freshly cooked steaming hand-rolled honey infused delights. Try the year round Jean-Talon Farmers market. I didn't know that fruit and vegetables could grow that big and tasty (and cheap).
An underground city houses hundreds of shops and boutiques is thoughtfully designed to incorporate as much natural daylight as possible whilst sheltering you from extremes of temperature.
The Notre Dame Basilica is one of the crown jewels in Quebec's rich history and every street corner we were reminded of the art and culture that adorns and embraces this city.
Our short stay in this city left me wanting more of Montreal. It's a city that changes and embraces the season's and I have a determination to return and experience them all.
Quintessence Hotel and Mont Tremblant
Floatplane - what a way to travel! We took off on the St Lawrence River, sweeping over Montreal we headed for the Laurentian Mountains, marvelling at the view along the way. Circling over Mont Tremblant and as graceful as any swan we gently landed on the lake outside the Quintessence Hotel, a wonderful boutique property hugging the shoreline. Each of the 30 luxury suites has king sized beds, a wood burning fireplace, private balcony or terrace and a breathtaking view of Lake Tremblant.
The restaurant and wine bar provide a warm and comfortable ambience in which to while away the hours not spent on the slopes or the spa. The attentive staff are the final crowning glory at this property, which I would recommend to anyone looking for a romantic hideaway.
The purpose built ski resort of Mont Tremblant is just a short walk away. This chocolate box pedestrian village has a myriad of restaurants and bars to choose from as well as excellent skiing facilities designed to delight beginners and experienced skiers alike. Apres Ski and additional activities also expand to a cinema, a casino as well as tobogganing, dog sledding, snow mobiling, tubing and sleigh rides.
Sacacomie Lodge at Sainte-Alexis-des-Monts
It was at this point in my trip I was wondering what else could possibly surprise and delight me. A question quickly answered by our arrival at Sacacomie Lodge - a traditionally built log cabin overlooking Lac Sacacomie.
A nature lovers paradise, this stylish lodge offers a whole range of outdoor activities. Our visit to the huskies and a wildlife tour were both conducted by onsite guides with a passion for their work. A visit to the GEOS spa offered relaxation and magnificent views.
Dining at the hotel is hearty rather than gourmet - but perfect after a day of outdoor activity and the bar offers a place to relax and unwind. Both areas make the most of the astonishing views.
The resort invites you to leave the noise of the modern world behind. Public areas hide those desperate not to be separated from their electronic gadgets but the rooms themselves don't have TV's, radio and Wi-Fi is intermittent. My bathroom was more practical than luxurious but cocooned in your own log built room with it's wood burning stove and looking out at the clear sky and (we were so lucky) the Northern Lights, I could not complain.
A stay here is ideal for those wanting to escape, unwind and immerse themselves in activities that the surrounding wilderness offers.
All properties and destinations visited by Sue McAlinden in Sep 2012