Its no secret that the warm weather and time on the beach is my happy place, and for years I dreaded the winter. Stuffing kids in puffy coats, hats and gloves like little sausages can be a drag. That was the case until skiing and snowboarding has become a favorite family past time. Now we look forward to the cold months, and as they grow older, we can still enjoy time on the mountain together, as a family. All the three have far exceeded my expectation in such a short time, and I am embarrassed to say that Ryder and Siella have become more confident skiers than their Mom!
This year, I wanted to get on the slopes early, so planning the perfect Thanksgiving ski trip became my obsession, as the summer months drew to a close. With only four days off from school, we needed someplace close, that was cold enough to have snow in late November. Most resorts near us in New York do not open until December, so I searched a little further, and read about Mont Tremblant in Canada. It’s far enough north that temps were consistently below freezing, perfect for snow making weather.
On Wednesday, Thanksgiving Eve, we hustled out of the city to the airport, arriving in Montreal in less than 2 hours. The mountain is less than 90 minutes from the Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport (YUL), so we rented a car and drove up, stopping at a local grocery store along the way. Had our trip been one week later, we could have taken advantage of the Porter Air flights, which run from YUL to Mont Tremblant, during peak season.
Our condo-like room, in the Place St Bernard, was located right on the mountain, with two bedrooms and a loft, overlooking the slopes. We had a fireplace, full kitchen, and plenty of room to spread out our mounds of ski and snowboard gear. A full day of school, a flight, and car ride left the kids wiped, so we turned in right away, as we were all anxious to hit the slopes in the morning.
It was dark when we arrived, so we really couldn’t get a sense of our surroundings, but when we stepped outside, as cliche as it sounds, it felt like a winter wonderland. The village and buildings are all painted with vibrant colors, covered with a fresh, light dusting of snow. We stood there soaking it in, as the snow continued to fall. It was something right out of a magazine.
Since the kids are growing like weeds, we have yet to invest in ski equipment for them. I imagine lugging all that stuff on the plane could be a pain too. The rental shop was located just around the other side of our building, so we headed there for a fitting. In fact, renting gear came in handy because Ryder decided to switch to snowboarding on day 2, so they switched his package out.
For the next three days, we took advantage of Mont Tremblant’s ski school. Their session went from 9am to 3pm, with a short lunch break in between. Those six hours per day proved to be invaluable, because their progression over the span of the trip was staggering. All three graduated from the magic carpet lift, and were tearing up the bunny slopes. I may need another lesson just to keep up with them.
After lessons and a full day of skiing, each afternoon we met in the village and warmed up with some hot cocoa. The village has so many shops, cafes and restaurants that we never repeated same place twice.
Going from the warm New York fall to 20 and 30 degree weather, we couldn’t spend all day and night outside, so we walked over to the indoor pool and waterpark in the village. After the first night, they begged us to go back each day. The Aquaclub la Source has a wading pool for toddlers, main pool with a Tarzan rope jumping rocks, waterfall, and hot tubs. If you are traveling without kids or just need a break, the indoor and outdoor jacuzzi’s were reserved for adults only, in addition to the Eucalyptus steam baths, and full fitness center.
While strolling around the Mont Tremblant village, we stumbled upon T Bar, which allow guests of any age, to create and personalize t-shirts and hats. The kids’ each customized their own shirt, to bring home as the ultimate souvenir. Its become their favorite thing to wear to bed every night.
If you ask the kids to pick a highlight apart from skiing and snowboarding, from their Mont Tremblant trip, it would be building their own stuffed animals, at Univers Toutou. Naturally, our house doesn’t need anymore stuffed animals, but based on being involved in the actual stuffing of these fuzzy friends, we just couldn’t resist. They picked out their own stuffed animals, filled them with as much or little stuffing as they liked, dressed them, and created mini passports. Once they were completed, each was placed in a mini cardboard suitcase, for safe keeping and travel. The entire experience was capped off by each child reciting an oath, to love and protect their new furry companions. Check out the video below, where they read the oath in French. It couldn’t have been cuter!
Be it lunch or dinner, each meal was a wonderful. Some of our favorite places included: La Forge Upstairs for an upscale dinner on Thanksgiving day, Microbrasserie La Diable – the local micro brewery, Coco Pazzo for pizza, Le Shack for lunch, Bistro Au Grain De Cafe for coffee and breakfast, and La Vache for the best hot chocolate we’ve ever tasted! And no meal was complete without Poutine, which is french fries, smothered in brown gravy and cheese. We probably sampled it in every restaurant, with every meal!
The kids came home with so much more confidence on the slopes than ever before. Our trip to Mont Tremblant was the perfect way to kick off the ski and snowboard season. We have many holiday traditions, and a trip north of the border for Turkey Day may be added to the holiday routine year after year.
Here’s just some of the highlights from our trip!
Hotel and accommodations provided by Mont Tremblant!