Still exhausted after participating in the Canada Ski Marathon, I limped into the Chateau Fairmont Montebello in a steady blizzard. In the past two days a foot of fresh snow had fallen in the Outaouais region of Quebec. As soon as I pulled into their road and under the welcome sign, I immediately felt intrigued by this magical place. I looked to my left and a cross-country skier was making her way down one of the trails. A dog sled team crossed the road in front of me. Without even looking at the hotel or my room, I knew I was hooked.
Related: Canada Ski Marathon GoPro adventure
Check in and room arrival
After the short drive through the woods the property comes into view. Wow, what an amazing building. The castle moniker definitely fits. It only gets better once you enter inside. The fireplace is enormous and extends up three stories while there is a visible fire going on four sides. One regret is I did not have time to cuddle up to this on one of the chairs and do some reading.
I parked near the entrance and checked in. The staff both at the check in and the gentlemen who assisted with my luggage were warm, welcoming, and friendly. Then I got my belongings together and put them all on a cart. They were delivered to my room seconds after I arrived.
I opened the door and was overjoyed with the room. It was spacious and had great lighting, both natural and man made. One thing that drives me crazy is many hotel rooms do not have enough lights to sufficiently luminate the room and then only a small window. The natural lighting during the day lit up the room and plenty of lights during the night to do the same.
Olympic pool and hot tubs
The first order of business was soaking my sore muscles. After 50 kilometers of skiing in the last couple of days, I was ready to relax. Winter adventure could wait until tomorrow. I grabbed my bathrobe from the closet and headed to the pool. The pool and hot tub is actually across the street from the property, but there is a tunnel from one of the wings that brings you there warmly in a matter of minutes.
I checked in and squeezed in to one of the hot tubs. There was a couple next to me who had also taken part in the race, so we traded Canada Ski Marathon stories. It seemed about 75% of the people staying here this weekend were part of the race. There were a lot of cross-country skis on the cart at the front door where people were checking in.
Then I went for a swim and did a few laps in the beautiful pool before switching back to the hot tub. There was a window over the pool, and you could see the snow belting the hotel and the forest outside. This made the hot water and jets that much more cozy.
Morning ski at the Chateau Fairmont Montebello
The next morning I woke up to cloudy day that turned sunny and the snow had stopped. I went out to my car and it was topped with eight inches of fresh snow. I got my skis and found the trailhead. Just before I began my ski, the groomer had zoomed off right in front of me. This meant absolute fresh trails. If you are not a skier, this may be lost on you, but to start a ski with over a foot of fresh snow in Canada and skiing right behind the groomer is about as good as it gets.
Since the groomer just started and I was heading back to Chicago today, I could not take full advantage of the trails. They have over 40 kilometers right on property, which is amazing. Only hotel I have ever been to or heard of with such extensive trails. I stayed on the three kilometer loop that was closest to the hotel as it was the only trail fully groomed. I would love to come back and visit the trails that head farther out into the Outaouais outdoors.
Usually when I stay at a hotel, I have to drive 15 minutes to sometimes up to two hours to arrive at the ski trails. It was such a a great convenience to have the trails right on site at the hotel; furthermore, it is not necessary to stay at the hotel to ski their trails. A daily ski pass is required, but it is a reasonable rate. See the link at the bottom for details.
The trails followed the highway through a pine forest and then turned toward the Ottawa River and followed the river. The clouds and sky over the river were amazing. I set my GoPro to time lapse and took some pictures and video from my head mount. The trail then went between the hotel itself and the river. This is where I snapped the lead shot in this post. The trail then looped back through a pine forest back to the beginning. I did the trail twice.
Cross-country skiing is one of the best work outs you can do. Even a six kilometer jaunt will build an appetite. I came back to the hotel, showered, and headed to breakfast. I was given a pot of coffee and set loose on the buffet. It was one of the best breakfasts ever and a great way to end a cross-country ski trip and start a cross-country road trip back 13 hours to Chicago. I was sad to leave.
Chateau Fairmont Montebello winter adventures
Nordic skiing was the only activity I took part in as far as the winter adventures here, but I was really impressed with the amount of options available. You could spend several days here and not get enough winter sports. They have snowshoeing, ice fishing, dog sledding, hockey, tubing, snowmobiling, ice skating, and even curling. Along with the option to take part in all this recreation, they also offer rentals and guides. Check out this page to see their pricing for rental and guides. As you can see, the Fairmont has such an amazing list of possible adventures, that it is a great place for a family, romantic couple, or a solo adventure.
My stay was in part complimentary thanks to Tourisme Outaouais and the Chateau Fairmont Montebello; however, my love of winter adventure is purely my own. Photographs, videos, and opinions are purely my own.
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