“We are pioneering a new destination,” said Amélie Brouhard, vice-president, Canada and Mexico, at Club Med.
As a 70-year-strong brand that pioneered the all-inclusive format for resort holidays, Club Med is coming to Canada, opening an all-inclusive mountain property next year in a forested, waterfront region in Quebec’s boreal zone located about one hour from Quebec City.
Club Med Quebec Charlevoix, which opens Dec. 3, 2021, promises easy-to-book ski vacations that encapsulate the Club Med spirit, Quebec’s regional wonders, while blurring the lines of indoor and outdoor experiences.
A "one-stop shop" experience
The 302-room property, which faces the St. Lawrence River, is about “simplifying the complexities of a ski trip,” said Brouhard on Thursday (Dec. 10) at a virtual press conference that was held to officially open sales.
From buying ski passes to scheduling lessons to meals to après ski activities, Club Med’s positioning is to offer “a one-stop shop, hassle-free experience” through its all-inclusive formulae, Brouhard explained.
Designed for families, couples, singles, friends and corporate groups, the 4-Trident resort will be Club Med’s first ski operation in the Americas and Canada’s only all-inclusive mountain offering.
As the only waterfront ski resort in the Le Massif area, Club Med Quebec Charlevoix will offer 40 kilometres of slopes carved into the highest vertical drop east of the Rockies, Brouhard told PAX.
“We felt it was the right place,” said Brouhard, speaking about the municipality of Charlevoix, which the local tourism board describes as a “region between mountains and the sea.”
“It’s a great starting point for beautiful, rich activities.”
The property, which is being constructed using locally-sourced materials, will undoubtedly bring something new to Charlevoix, which currently features a small ecosystem of small boutique hotels.
Club Med’s all-inclusive model for ski resorts is one that “has been our own pioneering that has showed success in other parts of the world,” Brouhard said.
Despite its reputation for being a sand and sun product, Club Med actually operates 22 other all-inclusive ski resorts around the world, from The Alps in Europe to Asia.
And while Club Med chose its Quebec location long before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the domestic market’s newfound interest in Canadian escapes, and staying closer to home, will certainly benefit the new hotel.
“The destination of Charlevoix, and Quebec, was in the spotlight this past summer,” said Brouhard. “For us, it’s a good thing.”
While Canadians will likely make up the bulk of reservations in the beginning, Brouhard is confident the property will, in due time, attract global markets, such as Americans, Brazilians and Europeans, as travel restrictions ease.
“We have a very international model,” said Brouhard, noting the diverse nationalities that one will often see at a Club Med property.
A “very adventurous journey"
There’s a lot of momentum behind Club Med Québec Charlevoix, Brouhard said, calling the project a “very adventurous journey.”
It hasn’t been an easy road either.
Construction of the new village (Club Med’s term for its resorts) was delayed a year due to labour shortages in Quebec’s construction industry.
Brouhard said the property passed the 50 per cent mark of reaching completion in October 2020, and is currently more than half finished.
“Before winter started, we closed the spaces so we could work on the interior,” Brouhard said. “We’re confident that we will open on time.”
Three suite categories
Brouhard and her colleague, David Meyer, Club Med’s project director for North America, shared interior renderings on Thursday, revealing a mosaic of warm designs inspired by Quebec and Canadian heritage, including nods to Indigenous and First Nations communities.
Suite categories include Superior, Deluxe and the Exclusive Collection (Club Med’s highest service level option), all of which have balconies and versions for couples and families.
The Superior rooms channel the colours of Quebec’s expanses – winter white, twilight blue and yellow sun, playing on elements of the Boreal Forest.
Deluxe rooms are a nod to “classic Quebec barns,” said Meyer, capturing the warmth of ancestral homes with blond wooden floors, lofty ceilings and doors painted carmine red.
There are 25 suites in the Exclusive Collection, which utilize leather, wood, fur, and knitted wool textures.
These rooms are nestled at the top of the resort in a space called “Le Saint-Laurent,” which, true to its name, will offer amazing views of the St. Lawrence river.
Exclusive Collection guests also have access to a private lounge that has its own bar, concierge service and jacuzzi-ready terrace that also faces the St. Lawrence.
There are three restaurants: a main gourmet marketplace that features nods to Quebec’s history with harvesting, fishing, breeding and hunting for food.
Le Chalet, a specialty restaurant and wine cellar, is like a “Chef welcoming you into a chalet with an open kitchen and festive bar [with] stage performances throughout the day,” said Meyer.
Terroir & Co offers a dining experience for families, where parents and kids prepare and share a meal, from fondues and raclettes to local cheeses and charcuteries.
The main bar, at the heart of the resort, is a colourful multifunction space, serving as the main link between all the amenities.
Not just for skiing
Of course, there will be more to Club Med Quebec Charlevoix than skiing (this is Club Med, after all, a brand that was built on offering a range of activities).
There’s a wellness space, for one, that includes a 23-metre-long heated pool (the biggest pool in a Club Med mountain resort) that, like most things here, will overlook the St. Lawrence River.
There will be a splash pool for kids, outdoor jacuzzi and hammam, and even indoor circus shows
There are relaxing experiences inspired by Nordic spas, such as a terrace with warm and cold baths, a sauna with panoramic river views, massages and a “charming snow fountain.”
Parents can find time for themselves using Club Med’s childcare program for kids ages 4 to 17-years-old, and care is also available for babies and toddlers starting at four months (which you don’t often see at non-Club Med resorts).
There are opportunities to explore the region through activities like dogsledding, snowmobiling, ice-fishing and even ice-canoeing.
You can also discover Charlevoix’s culinary delicacies: local cheeses and cold cuts, microbrewery beers, ciders and, of course, maple products.
Club Med Quebec Charlevoix is expected to generate 325 direct and 400 indirect jobs in the region as stakeholders anticipate 50,000 visitors per year.
“Our resort will offer a sense of conviviality and Quebec hospitality, a symbol of this very strong bond that has united Club Med and Quebec for a very long time,” said Carolyne Doyon, Club Med’s president and CEO for North America and the Caribbean, in a video message.
The property is also aiming to become the first hotel in North America to comply with strict BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environment Assessment Method) environmental standards and is working towards becoming Green Globe-certified by opening day.
Domestic air packages are in the works
The all-inclusive positioning of Club Med Quebec Charlevoix may be the ticket to attracting new crowds – in English Canada, for example – that have yet to discover the long-standing brand.
While one could easily drive to Charlevoix, Brouhard said the company is working with Quebec airports to offer packaged air service from Toronto and other Canadian cities to the region, for those looking to fly.
Two-night, three-night and seven-night packages, which include ski passes, lessons, Kids Clubs and unlimited access to après ski activities, are currently available with early booking incentives (rates are starting at $239 per adult, per night).
Club Med’s approach to health and safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic is supported by a program called Safe Together, which can be viewed here.
With that, Brouhard extended a sincere thank you to Canada’s travel trade for their support and for staying engaged with Club Med Quebec Charlevoix during its construction.
“We hope we have common success as we launch our sales,” she said.
Don't miss a single travel story: subscribe to PAX today!