Eastern Canada's ski darling offers gourmet meals, idyllic views and room to grow. The slopes in the Laurentian mountains—Better known for gentle pitches and hardwood vistas than extreme skiing—are only one reason to visit Tremblant, a Quebec resort whose future was dubious until Intrawest bought it and launched a major renovation in the early 1990s. In short order, the new Tremblant earned accolades as an extraordinary destination resort. Intrawest built a charming base village, added runs and upgraded mountain facilities. These days, an après-ski tour through Tremblant's European-styled village takes you over cobbled streets, past 42 restaurants and bistros and can be as enjoyable as swooshing down its 2,100-vertical-foot slopes. You'll never be at a loss for something to eat or drink. Will it be a French-roast latte at Au Grain de Café? Or Bordeaux at La Grappe à Vin? Mais oui, à chacun son gout.
Tremblant's choices don't end with its gastronomic delights. The resort's rapid development, cultural flair and scenery have made this a full-service destination with golf courses, boating on Lac Tremblant and miles of hiking trails in a nearby provincial park. Tremblant consists of three regions that were recently combined into a single municipality named Ville de Mont-Tremblant. The resort itself consists of four "neighborhoods with a mix of residences, shops, restaurants and hotels. People come for the winter and return for the summer, and the number of visitors has reached 2.3 million a year. Forty percent hail from outside of Canada, and a coterie of celebrities, like Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, who bought a 100-acre estate nearby this summer, have discovered this hamlet. A new international airport offers direct flights from Newark and Toronto and plans to add other cities this season.
Many of those visitors want places of their own, and Tremblant's success has become Intrawest's crowning real-estate achievement. A second village is in the works, a third is planned and a robust housing market has emerged as owners sell their older places and buy newer ones. "We feel that we can be the Vail of the East, says Bryce Fraser, resort general manager and vice president. Kellie Christensen, a 37-year-old teacher from Naples, Fla., agrees. A vacation with her husband, Mike, and their three sons so impressed the family that they plunked down $299,000 for a three-bedroom, ski-in/ski-out townhouse at Le Plateau sur la Montagne, above the village and next to the Porte du Soleil chairlift.
Apart from their unit's slopeside location, there was an added incentive—an ice skating rink. Kellie is a former figure skater, and two of the boys are hockey mavens, so when they're not skiing they're gliding on the ice.
"Tremblant's charming; it's the perfect escape, she says. "With the language difference, it feels like we're in Europe.
Though the U.S. dollar has lost value, Canadian ski areas are less expensive than their more developed counterparts in the United States. Tremblant is no exception. Here you'll find prices at about half the cost of comparable real estate in Vail or Aspen. Condominiums in the new Etoile du Matin building—a component of Intrawest's $1 billion, 10-year project to add two satellite villages—are slated to go on the market this year with asking prices starting around $213,000. Ultimately, 1,800 condos will be built in Versant Soleil, along with at least four hotels, shops, restaurants, a man-made lake, additional lifts and a tram between the village and Versant Sud.
Those looking to buy into Tremblant now have ample selection around the existing village, says Herb Ratsch, sales specialist for Playground Chartered Real Estate. Latest offerings include hotel-style apartments at Ermitage du Lac; one-tenth fractional interests in luxury townhomes at Storied Places Tremblant; and 2,900- to 3,400-square foot townhomes at Panache. Existing units also hit the market.
There's no question now about the once-obscure resort's status: Tremblant reigns as one of the East's top destinations. Says Ratsch, "We have three strong seasons, including the fall with its brilliant colors. That's a lot of options.
Population (Ville de Mont-Tremblant) 8,500
Median home price (July 2005)
Domaine du Village: (full ownership) $267,081 , (quarter ownership) $135,601
Domaine de La Forêt: $506,662
Domaine du Géant: $342,102Annual taxes on a median-priced home $1,708Number of properties sold in 2004 216Listings at press time 380Access Mont Tremblant International Airport (30 minutes from resort) and Pierre Eliott Trudeau International Airport, Montreal (90 minutes from resort)Information Herb Ratsch, Playground Chartered Real Estate; 800-475-3700; www.livetremblant.com