By Amy Suski
Spring skiing anyone? Although a thaw is finally in reach on the U.S. east coast, ski season is still in full swing in Quebec. Admittedly, temperatures over the winter were frightful but with the warmer temperatures in March and April, families can enjoy the abundant snow without their smiles freezing in place. With current exchange rates [$100 CAD = $80 USD] you can also expect a sweet discount on your trip. We recently took advantage of a 35% off winter deal from Tremblant resort, which combined with the favorable exchange savings of 20% made a trip for a family of five very affordable.
Tremblant is located in the Laurentian mountains just north of Montreal. Ranked #1 overall in the East by Ski Magazine in 2015, Tremblant is everything you imagine a ski resort to be. The village is nestled between the base of the massive mountain and a picturesque lake. Maple sugar candy is sold from barrels of snow, ice skaters glide along a frozen outdoor ice park, holiday lights twinkle from the trees, and the aromas of restaurant grills beckon from all directions. Even if you never stepped foot on the mountain, you could still spend your day happily shopping, dining, skating, tubing, or splashing around at Aquaclub La Source. Special excursions include dogsledding, snowmobiling, alpine touring, aerial adventures and dune buggy tours. If parents can arrange a babysitter, they can also visit the casino or state-of-the art spas including the Scandinavian Baths. After a day of skiing we had just about enough energy left for dinner and a hot shower, but next trip I'm resolved to keep some mojo in reserve for some of the other great activities.
Above all, the skiing at Tremblant is terrific -- lots of snow, nice long runs from the summit to the base, glorious views from all sides of the mountain, and few lines on the lifts. Our youngest really enjoyed the green trails and the TAM TAM trail through the forest (pictured above), while our teenager enjoyed the challenge of the black diamond trails on both the north and south faces. We visited during a non-holiday week and the slopes were uncrowded. However, like all outdoor sports, the experience is entirely dependent on the weather. We were there in January and were lucky to have one day of sunny 22F weather, but the next day was windy, gray and hovered around 2F. Sub-zero temperatures are not uncommon at the summit and on the day we left we awoke to an outdoor thermostat reading of -20F. Compare that to temperatures in the 30s and 40s, and you'll appreciate why spring skiing is such a good idea!
If you find yourself visiting during a cold spell, the key is to be prepared. Whether you are at the top of the mountain or strolling around the village, head to toe coverage may be needed. One windy night in the village the snow was falling horizontally -- which in the States we call a blizzard but to Canadians is not such a big deal. While we shivered and fretted over the cold, we saw plenty of unfazed Canadian families with toddlers bundled up on sleds and rosy-cheeked infants in strollers.
In addition to being prepared for the cold, I recommend booking accommodations carefully. The range of options at Tremblant is plentiful... ranging from mountainside luxurious homes to a village-based Holiday Inn. We felt lucky to find a spacious and very lovely 2BR family-friendly home on the southeast side of the mountain, but were surprised that the ski-on ski-off was more like an olympic luge run than a ski trail -- and too difficult for our youngest children. Not only was the trail steep, narrow and winding, but it was only accessible by other difficult trails linked by long stretches of exhausting horizontal trails. Had they been more experienced intermediate skiers it would have been fine, but in retrospect we should have forgone the convenience of ski-on ski-off and driven them to and from the base.
Aside from the challenges posed by our lodging location, the trip was a lot of fun. Unless you're ready to fly to the Alps, the ambiance of the french-speaking snowy village can't be beat. While riding to the summit in an enclosed gondola we met friendly skiers from all over the world. The international flair, world class skiing, and charm of the place really won me over. And poutine on demand doesn't hurt either. [If you've never tried the quintessential Canadian dish of gravy and cheese slathered fries, its reason enough for a visit.] If you have time for one last ski trip this season, you couldn't do better than Tremblant. So pack your toe warmers, practice your high school French, and prepare for an adventure!
At press time Tremblant is offering 25% savings on lodging for stays between March 22 and April 12, 2015. The opinions expressed herein are entirely my own and do not reflect those of Tremblant. We did not receive any special deals on or compensation for this trip. All copyrights reserved to Kid Trips.
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