Travel has been evolving for generations, but one of the most profound changes in recent years within this massive industry is peoples desire to do no harm, to see the world in the most ecologically friendly way possible without sacrificing comfort and style. While companies strive to make less of an impact by decreasing their emissions and making changes to how their business operates, travellers too are choosing accommodations that go above and beyond eco friendly. Places that serve not only local food, but offer a unique experience that simply can’t be found elsewhere. No place is more relevant to this new form of travel than Le Massif’s new 4 season hotel, “Hôtel La Ferme” in Charlevoix, Quebec. After arriving in Quebec City by VIA Rail, I managed to find myself on another train to Charlevoix.
Montmorency Falls to Charlevoix by “Le Train”
Getting to Hôtel La Ferme in Charlevoix Quebec is half of the adventure. While driving is an option, to truly take in the experience you’ll want to catch the train. From downtown Quebec City you’ll need to drive, cab, or bus to Montmorency Falls. Be sure to show up early to take in Quebec’s famous Waterfall and snap photos of the small bridge that crosses overtop. If you find yourself above the falls you’ll want to take the Gondola down ($10.39 Round Trip per Adult). Waiting patiently at the bottom of this magnificent vista is Le Train. Le Massif’s luxury locomotive that travels between Quebec City to Baie-Saint-Paul and onwards to La Malbaie.
The ride north by train to Baie St Paul and La Malbaie includes some impeccable meals made with local Quebec produce along with one of the best views of the Fleuve Saint Laurent (Saint Lawrence River). In true “Cirque du Soleil” fashion, the entire journey is orchestrated with video, music, and a live map of the trains location in Charlevoix. Throughout the entire journey you’ll learn about the history and importance of this region with the help of an array of iPads found on each dining table. After experiencing the sights, sounds, and tastes from the train, disembark at Baie-Saint-Paul – the train literally stops right beside the hotel!
What sets Hôtel La Ferme apart?
Le Massif’s hotel/hostel/resort hybrid is something completely original and unique to not only Quebec, but Canada. Daniel Gauthier, the man who co-founded the internationally acclaimed “Cirque Du Soleil” is behind this incredible project. This new 4 seasons hotel is home to swiss inspired luxury rooms along with budget friendly hostel dormitory rooms, perfect for a group of friends on a ski getaway or the lone vagabond exploring Charlevoix. The backyard gardens play a large role with Hôtel La Ferme’s restaurant “Les Labours“, which uses produce they grow themselves in all of it’s meals. This new eco-local-friendly hybrid accommodation provides access to some of Baie St Paul’s most beautiful walking trails and some of the best views of the Fleuve Saint Laurent (Saint Lawrence River).
The idea is to appeal to not only high end travellers looking to relax, but university students and budget travellers. Young adults who want to hit the slopes of Le Massif during the winter while being given an affordable and luxurious room. While these different types of travellers are in separate buildings, they share access to a common lounge, bar, cafe, performance center as well as “Les Labours” – more on it below. The idea is to promote social engagement, and giving equal access to the luxury amenities that are available at Hôtel La Ferme.
The Hotel Rooms of Le Massif’s Hôtel La Ferme
Not a single detail has been missed at what is likely to become one of Quebec’s most popular tourist destinations. Between the beautiful Canadiana art, the locally produced blankets that adorn each bed, to the salvaged wood from the Charlevoix area that can been seen throughout the hallways and rooms across the entire complex. Beautiful oak hardwood floors can be seen in each and every room, along with some sturdy hand-made cabinetry. A plasma screen TV, iPod/iPhone ready stereo and a “Nesspresso” machine with pop in espresso capsules can be found in each hotel room.
Stepping foot into the bathroom is like walking into something you’d expect to see in the TV show “Cribs”. The glass walled shower sports two shower heads, perfect for those who don’t like to shower alone. Don’t forget to try out their luxury soap, shampoo, and conditioner, it will blow that Pantene ProV you brought along out of the water.
Hôtel La Ferme Reinvented Hostel Rooms
It’s been my experience that the majority of hostels tend to suffer from shoddy bedding, cheap mattresses, loud, squeaky and inconvenient bunk beds, and far too many people crammed into the same room. The folks at Le Massif have replaced “cheap accommodations” in lieu of “budget accommodations”, without sacrificing the quality and craftsmanship seen throughout the rest of the Hotel.
They’ve completely done away with bunk beds, and instead opted for custom lockable murphy beds that fold out from the elegant wall cabinetry. Each hostel room has a limit of 4 beds, along with 4 large sized lockers to store your personal belongings. A large in-room bathroom with multiple sinks can be found within each room, making that awkward traipse down the hall to a shared bathroom a thing of the past. Each dorm style room includes a plasma screen TV along with an iPod/iPhone ready stereo, perfect for getting ready in the morning or sharing music with newfound friends.
Local Eats at Les Labours
A hotel dedicated to providing a unique experience in all 4 seasons wouldn’t be complete without meals made with local in-season produce, most of which is grown in Le Massif’s own backyard. These class act dishes are prepared by Chef David Forbes and his incredible team. Their love and passion for providing visitors the chance to taste this magical region of Quebec is second to none. The menu at Les Labours changes with the seasons, giving you a chance to gawk at freshly crafted meals all year round.
While You’re in Baie-Saint-Paul
While I could go on all day about how much I’m in love with Quebec and completely infatuated by Le Massif, there is more to this region than lounging around in comfy beds and eating delicious local food. During the summer, explore Rue St-Jean-Baptiste and browse through eclectic local artisan shops, sample the local Charlevoix Microbrews then find out why Baie-Saint-Paul is a mecca for painters, performers and artists of all kind. If nature is more your thing, whale watching tours, hiking trails, and secluded beaches along the Saint Lawrence River are all within walking distance.
Come winter, ski the 770m (2,527 ft) of vertical at Le Massif. During the winter, Le Train carries eager passengers from Quebec City (At Montmorency Falls) directly to the mountain, and continues to Baie-Saint-Paul where exhausted skiiers can relax at Hôtel La Ferme. The staff at the hotel informed me that waking up at Hôtel La Ferme in the winter is going to make for a great Canadian experience, as there will be a skating rink right in backyard of the eco-hotel.
Baie-Saint-Paul is the heart and soul of arts and culture in Canada. The beauty of this region wasn’t just recently discovered, in fact, the infamous Group of Seven often visited the area, setting up their easel’s and painting the dramatic colours of this picturesque Quebecois landscape. The history of the culture and people in Baie-Saint-Paul and the entire region of Charlevoix is something to be truly appreciated. For anyone keen on exploring the province of Quebec, be sure to include Charlevoix & a stay at Hôtel La Ferme in your itinerary.
Special thanks to the folks at Le Massif for helping out and showing me around this great new project that is sure to bring in countless excited tourists.