My favorite trip of the year was to Mont Tremblant, Quebec, where I indulged in fine dining, snowboarding and, apres ski, a trip to the Scandinavian baths and nightlife. Ski and snowboard aficionados have long considered Mont Tremblant in the Laurentian Mountains of Quebec to be on the short-list of the best vacation destinations in eastern North America. I was able to visit the resort town on the first-ever nonstop scheduled commercial flight from the New York area (Newark) to Mont Tremblant's airport. After a short 80-minute flight to Mont Tremblant International Airport it is a 35-minute transfer to Tremblant's base village. Our group hopped on snowmobiles right outside of the airport lodge and took them for a spin, not a bad start to the weekend.
While exploring this mountain community, I was impressed not only by its excellent terrain and snow conditions (so far this season Tremblant has enjoyed the most snow it has had in decades), but also by its wide range of seasonal activities and accommodations, as well as its base village, which has charming shops, restaurants, apres-ski and nightlife, all with a distinct European/French-Canadian flavor. Special events that draw crowds include the Tremblant Film Festival in June and the Tremblant International Blues Festival in July, as well as skiing and snowboarding competitions throughout the winter.
I stayed at Le Westin Resort & Spa, which has a prime location in the Tremblant village, about 100 yards from the chairlifts. The mostly Quebecois staff was friendly and seemed happy to offer their recommendations for fully experiencing the pleasures of their hometown. Westin guests can check their skis and snowboards at the front desk, and from the hotel's locker room they can exit directly to the village and the lifts. I was in a comfortable One Bedroom Suite with views of Lake Tremblant, on which locals and tourists alike enjoy ice skating and kite boarding during the winter. Westin's double-headed Heavenly Shower and layered Heavenly Bed served me well after a day on the slopes.
One of the highlights of my trip was a sojourn at Spa Le Scandinave Mont Tremblant, whose centerpiece is the Scandinavian baths, featuring a Norwegian steam room, Finnish dry sauna and two outdoor hot tubs--one with a thermal waterfall--plus cold rinse areas (a Nordic waterfall, Nordic baths and the Diable River). The spa also offers yoga sessions and Swedish, Hot Stone Therapy, Duo and Thai-Yoga massages.
I followed the wellness ritual to a T, alternating hot soaks and cold rinses. After soaking in one of the 100-plus-degree hot tubs for 15 minutes, I forced myself to get out and make my way down the steps to the 35-degree Diable River. I stepped onto the platform and quickly plunged into an opening in the ice shelf that stretched along each bank, submerging myself completely in the icy cold water. My heart and head pounding from the shock, I hurried into one of the spa's relaxation solariums and stretched out on a recliner enjoying the rush of adrenaline and subsequent euphoria.