The Club Med ski experience in Quebec amazes – Boston Herald
Could the new solution for a smooth and fully satisfying ski vacation be an old solution?
Club Med Charlevoix, which opened its doors last week at the foot of the charming Le Massif ski resort about 90 minutes north of Quebec City, is about to test this theory.
The first Club Med to operate in North America since the closure of Crested Butte in 2005, shortly after the closure of Club Med Copper Mountain in Colorado, this new Club Med intends to be the first of many in North America.
And while the Club Med ski model has been around for years (the Alps are dotted with successful Club Meds), a visit to the new destination showed them they smartly maintain what’s right for them everywhere while also tweaking things to that they work well. the North American experience.
Le Massif and Club Med have been working on this partnership for about ten years, their managers specify. And now, with the Club open for business, they’re hoping their place – a gorgeous location at the foot of the Laurentians and on the shores of the St.Lawrence River, and their timing – opens at a time when things like tickets l buying can be a stressor – will lead them to success.
Club Med ski vacations are different from most American vacations today in that they are truly all-inclusive.
Your price includes all meals and drinks, ski lift tickets, equipment rental, daily ski guide and lessons, children’s programs (all day) and access to all kinds of special events like concerts and shows.
In an age where finding getaway lift tickets can be a bit stressful, it can not only save on the price but also stress and time required to set up.
Why there? Le Massif is a magnificent mountain with an impressive vertical drop of just over 2,500 feet. Its trail system is classic East / Canadian: a bit narrower, lots of twists and turns and lots of choice between gentle, wild and something in between. It features a heavy annual snowfall of soft and true powdery snow. It has long been one of my favorites.
It’s superpower, however, is tuning. The St. Lawrence River, super wide and dazzling blue against a winter background (it rarely freezes) seems to give a new look at every turn. The sloping winter light is magical, just like watching and watching a barge pass right in front of you as you ski. Freshness factor: off the charts.
It has long attracted lovers of the mountains. But its remote location with no on-site accommodation kept it from getting really big.
Club Med has placed and built its 304-room resort at the base to blend in with it rather than compete with it.
Natural neutral colors make up the building, with pops of color that are a nod to the First Nations people, the culture of French Canadians and the history of the region.
Inside, the designers have given the setting the right touch of local vibe (I’ve visited Club Meds which can be a bit over the top that way, not here).
First good decision: massive windows in just about every room that bring this beautiful river and mountain range into space. There’s hardly a room that doesn’t ask you to stop, watch, and sigh for joy.
The indoor pool and accompanying outdoor hot tub overlook the river and mountain peaks, and the spa (which can be used as part of your stay; things like massages are extra) is modern and comfortable. The spa ceiling is dripping with live pink roses; which brings me back to a country road that I once traveled in Bordeaux. A nod to the French ancestry of Club Med, perhaps.
The main dining room is spacious. You can choose different small annexes to sit at each meal, giving the same place a whole new feeling.
The food is far from what you would expect from a buffet. The chefs work at each station and are clearly deeply proud of their offerings. Prime rib, lobster tails, salmon; the choices are endless at the three meals of the day. It’s as far away from the cruise ship buffet as you can get.
Skiing is child’s play. A large ski locker at the edge of the slopes is allocated to you with boot warmers and plenty of hooks for mittens, helmets and all that. Every morning, you head there, put on your boots, take a few steps to the door, and meet your guide to set off for your day of skiing.
The guides interrupt the day for lunch, and if you want to skip a day or a half to relax or join one of their excursions like dog sledding, a visit to a picturesque town nearby, or a snowshoe hike ( to name a few), that’s not much.
The Massif itself has a lodge at the top, where day skiers and locals will always start and end, and where you can go and mingle with the locals.
It’s two worlds, that’s for sure, but they are united in their love of the setting, the clean air and yes, the ski itself.
I was with my guide the other day – the chance to be one of the very first skiers to spend a day at Le Massif Club Med style. It was me, three men in my 50s from New Jersey, and Pierre, our guide from France.
As we walked down a trail and the sun danced on the river in front of us, I stretched out my arms like a bird, carved deeply, and started screaming. The three men – and Peter – joined one by one until we were a flock of seagulls gliding effortlessly towards this bank of the river.
At the base, we stopped – and they all burst out laughing.
I think that’s going to be the magic of the Club Med / Le Massif wedding. There is an old French-Canadian saying (or at least a guy from Le Massif said it years ago): Unhook. It means “to unhook” or more accurately, to let go and simply savor the world around you.
With the all-inclusive married to sheer beauty, that seems like an easy goal. Let go and just experience the pleasure. Isn’t this a perfect ski trip?