I spent Christmas week at the Fairmont Mont Tremblant Hotel in Quebec with my family in 2011. My abiding memory of it was not getting our room made up on the second day and two calls to get it done by 8pm on the third. At over $800 a night for a junior suite it was an inauspicious start to a stay. Still, given the hotels superb location as a “ski in ski out” property on what are generally acknowledged as the finest slopes on the eastern seaboard of North America, you could brand it a Bates Motel with Anthony Perkins as your host and still get the same rate during the Christmas and New Year week. This time we saw a tasty rate of $199 a night with the third night free for the week preceding Christmas, and thought this was a good time to get some value for money back from our previous stay. The hotel was quiet with most local and national schools still to break for vacation and the accommodation was excellent, well appointed and a little bigger than the norm, perhaps a nod to our Fairmont frequent traveller card, the Presidents Club. The hotels décor has a nice sense of place about it with the feel of a large Lodge, with a feature fireplace. The Christmas decorations were superb.
Huge peaks and troughs of occupancy are never easy for a hotel, service occasionally suffers in the dips with the often reduced staffing, and not all outlets are open. In this case the cafe alongside the ski access was closed and a little frustratingly, the “ski in” run was yet to open. Still, the hotel ran like a well oiled machine this time. No challenges with housekeeping, and delightful and professional Quebec staff who didn’t mind my mangled French – not always the case in French speaking territories! The lounge overlooked the skiing allowing me to retire, not so gracefully, after my first half day skiing and slip away for a long break on the second day. There was a good old-fashioned professional service and a high quality lounge menu that didn’t break the bank.
The hotel has heated outdoor and indoor pools, an ice cold plunge pool and hot tubs. When the evening temperatures drop into single digits it’s a great experience. The pool is well serviced by the bar.
The village was very quiet compared with the frenzy of the following week, but most of it was operational and it was easy to get a table for dinner in any one of the many excellent restaurants on offer.
Fairmont has some wonderful hotels in addition to Mont Tremblant, and now manages the Savoy in London. It’s difficult, however, to know what you are going to get with this brand. I remember well my cupboard full of slippers still in their packaging, taken in the early days of travelling around the world’s hotels on business – rarely used but usually taken as mementos and thrown out with the annual clean out. These days it’s hit or miss whether you get them in a luxury hotel but usually they are available on request. It matters in a spa hotel, like this one, and it’s mildly irritating to be asked for five dollars as was the case when my wife felt it better to use those en route to the spa than her boots! Perhaps I felt differently when paying four times less for the room than before, but I would have been seriously miffed if I had been paying $800 a night. If the standard of having slippers “reappears” in peak season it further puzzles me about expectations at a Fairmont. Still it would be churlish not to say I’m heading back next year if the rates are the same. The slopes are quieter, the hotel works well and we will bring our own slippers!