Thursday, October 9, 2008

Cruising for bubbly

The Gazette
Published: 14 August 2008

Boaters will be buoyed by a deal that offers French bubbly on the house at the luxurious Hôtel Quintessence, the only five-star establishment on the shore of Lac Tremblant. The 30-suite boutique hotel is offering free champagne for guests who sign up for a cruise on its vintage mahogany motorboat, built circa 1910.

The one-hour boat tour is a relaxing outing on the picturesque lake surrounded by the Laurentian Mountains, whose forests are on the verge of turning to their vivid autumn colours. The cruise also offers a rare duck's-eye view of the alluring private houses along the shore. They range from grandiose mansions that have been built over the past 15 years, since Intrawest revamped the Tremblant ski area, to secluded cottages that have been in the same family for generations and are accessible only by boat.

Quintessence is a lakeside, slope-side country lodge that is outstanding for its deluxe accommodations; mahogany and stone interiors; wine bar; heated, infinity-edged pool; and superlative terrace dining overlooking the lake. Executive chef Lindsay Petit cooks up innovative, gastronomic dinner tasting menus of foie gras, elk, Angus steak or fish. ($64-99 p.p.) The more affordable Sunday barbecue brunch is an exquisitely presented buffet of delicacies ($29 for adults, half-price for children 12 and under). Lunch ($15-22) includes gourmet fare like salmon or caribou burgers and salads of duck confit or seared tuna.

If you go: On weekends, from $615 per night for a suite with heated bathroom floors, double-air-jet tub, private balcony with lake view and a fireplace; up to $1,630 for a sweeping presidential suite with a huge private terrace and hot tub. Single-night Saturdays cost $100 more. Weekday rates, $395-$1,410. All including gourmet breakfast and access to pool and spa. The champagne cruise promotion, $175 for up to six, will bubble until mid-October. Call 866-425-3400 or go to