After getting priced out of a lot of ski resorts for March Break, we opted to put the kids in local camps for that week, and make our winter/spring family vacation take place over an extended Easter long weekend. We opted to stay in Canada this time and selected Mont Tremblant. We had skied there as newlyweds with my wife being pregnant with Shark Boy years ago.
It seemed like a good plan, especially once we had excellent accommodations locked down and saw how much money we were saving by going late in the season. Our first snag was that the convenient local airport didn’t have flights from Toronto past the very beginning of April. The second was that shuttle service from Pierre Trudeau Airport in Montreal was expensive and not ideal for our flight schedule. Renting a car (I upgraded all the way to a Dodge Durango to make sure we could fit our skis in) proved the smartest option.
By the time we landed, picked up the car and had dinner, it was dark, but still, driving through the mountains was enough to get me excited. Our condo was at the bottom of the ‘Village’ right across from the Westin, and had two bedrooms (including a king sized bed in the master bedroom) and a pull-out couch so the boys could sleep separately.
On Good Friday morning, we grabbed breakfast from the Au Grain de Cafe, and then got the kids dressed for their ski lessons. We opted to put the Lightning Kid in a ‘Mother Nature Camp’ where the morning would be dedicated to learning to ski, and the afternoon would be in a daycare-like environment. Downhill skis and boots are still pretty heavy for his legs, and it’s been slow going getting him to get the hang of it. Shark Boy was in a ski camp for both Christmas and March Break holidays and he’s gotten pretty good – to the point of being able to use poles, although we hadn’t been able to secure a pair of his own yet.
Once the kids were squared away, my wife and I stopped for an extra coffee and a treat (which became the daily ritual) before going back to our room to get our own ski gear on, and trudge back uphill through the village to the gondola and get our own skiing done.
Both Friday and Saturday were nice, sunny days, and as skiers from Ontario, we’re not too fussy about snow quality – we were just happy to be there. All we are really looking to do on these trips is spend some time in the simple pleasure of sliding on snow without worrying about anything more than keeping our skis beneath us.
Shark Boy’s favourite runs were ‘La Crete’, ‘Tascherau’ and ‘Dynomite’. Mine were ‘La Traverse’, ‘Toboggan’ but of course, I have to give an honourable mention to my namesake…
It rained on the Sunday, and though Shark Boy lasted the whole day, we got pretty miserably wet. Luckily, we paid a visit to the water park known as AquaClub (which also had a fitness centre which I did not take advantage of). This place has various pools with a tarzan rope, a small slide and a little cliff to jump off of. Both boys did everything, though the Lightning Kid always simply jumped into the water by releasing the rope before his swing could start.
The one day we didn’t swim after skiing, we rode a little open gondola called ‘Cabrio’ from the bottom parking lot to the top of the village and back. And up again, and down again. And up again…
We were very satisfied with the ski school overall. Lunches were provided, and Shark Boy really liked his instructor, who had tall (though true) tales from all over the world. I personally would have liked to see the Lightning Kid get more runs in on the bunny hill (served by a magic carpet), though I understand that when the kids get tired, forcing them into it is not going to yield good results or a positive attitude toward snow sports. He had 3 different instructors, and they were all warm, friendly and great at teaching the skills.
On the Monday, I got an opportunity to ski with each of my sons individually. I took Shark Boy for a run from the top of the mountain to the bottom before his lesson. I should point out that though I claimed we’re not fussy about snow quality, the warm weather generated some heavy slush that really wore on your legs after a while and didn’t always yield optimal technique. Still, I had a lot of fun skiing with Shark Boy and was so impressed that he stuck with me (not skiing too far ahead or afield) without me having to yell and shout.
At the end of the day, I took the Lightning Kid out, and promised him a ride on the chairlift. I had scoped out a route of green runs from the top of the one chairlift that is accessible from the bottom and was trying to be optimistic that my back would hold out for the entirety while I held him between my legs. Sadly, his tickets didn’t include lift access, and though it was the last day and last runs of the year, rules are rules, I guess. I took him back to the magic carpet to see what he had learned and what he was capable of.
He’s getting the hang of putting his skis into the snowplow/’pizza’ position, and according to the instructor reports he can do some stops and control his speed a little. He’s also fully independent on the magic carpet, so we’ll call the endeavour a success overall.
I figure I’ll call out some of our favourite meal experiences separately rather than try and enumerate them all chronologically in the main story.
The first night’s dinner was going to be a kid-friendly one. There were two pizza joints within reach, one small and at the bottom of the village, the other larger around the midpoint of the climb to the top. The kids chose the latter. Pizzateria is decorated like a log cabin, and the pizza has a homemade, authentic style I really liked.
I grew up with both fondue and a home Raclette appliance, and we’ve also gotten one as a wedding present that we’ve never used. Raclette is a kind of Swiss cheese that you melt over potatoes or just about anything else you can think of, and it’s delicious. We haven’t dared to try eating something like these two Swiss delights for fear of the kids’ pickiness (and how their unruly behaviour poses a safety risk)… until now. Shark Boy was lured in by La Savoie’s menu because it offered Salami as one of the options for dipping or melting cheese over. We were really surprised at how well the boys took to the experience, and the restaurant service made the kids feel more the kids feel more than welcome.
Sweet crepes for breakfast! Shark Boy and I had their ‘Grand Maman’ which was loaded with ice cream… a bit much for breakfast. The Lightning Kid had a Nutella and banana crepe and the results speak for themselves….
I picked this place for lunch date, just the grown-ups. They had an interesting selection of tartares; my wife’s tuna was delicious. Great cocktails too, I had a Dark and Stormy which was like a Moscow Mule only with coke, and my wife had a maple syrup based cocktail.
Great sushi, well presented, funky vibe. Another great lunch date. I didn’t partake of the Sake Bomb… maybe next time.
While ski vacations seem to be a lot of work in terms of planning, logistics, packing and lugging gear, when they’re done, we’ve always enjoyed them and grown closer as a family while living the life of adventure that we’ve always dreamed of.