There may not be a more historic region in North America than Quebec City and
Charlevoix of Eastern Canada. First discovered in 1608 by renowned world
explorer Samuel De Champlain, this area quickly became a key seaport and the
cradle of French civilization in the new world. Located on the shores of the
mighty St Lawrence River, this destination is ripe to be discovered by foodees, history
buffs and nature lovers alike. With skiing nearby at
and Mont Sainte Anne its an après ski
delight as well.
A trip to this central Quebec region promises four centuries
of Canadian heritage along with an equally time-honored tradition of fine
lodging and amusements beyond the typical tours and museums.
Château Frontenac is the granddaddy of accommodations in Quebec City, and
the perfect place to stay in winter. Our trip was in the
celebrated month of February, on the heels of the world s largest winter
Carnival. Another ideal Quebec lodging destination for ski and stay packages is
Le Germain Dominion.
As we approached the ancient city, we immediately spotted the
dramatic copper spires of the landmark Frontenac castle along the icy St.
Lawrence. Dating back to 1893, this epic five star hotel towers over Quebec
City's historic district, within the stone ramparts of the largest remaining
fortifications in North America. These original stone walls encircle the 2.9
mile perimeter of the illustrious old city where the hotel is located.
Quebec City Photos
Château Frontenac is its own glorious monument, overlooking the St. Lawrence
River and the oldest commercial port in America. The stone entry archway to the
Château features the coat of arms belonging to the Count of Frontenac, the
hotel's namesake and Governor of France during the 17th century exploration of
this new territory.
As you enter the famous hotel, a grand lobby leads to stone
and mahogany corridors of boutiques and galleries for the well-heeled
inhabitants. As there are more than a few lounges and restaurants, you never
need to leave the confines of this historic castle.
You are well advised to have the costumed bellmen assist you
in finding your room amongst the 18 floors and 618 rooms of every shape and
size. A few of the larger suites are set in the spectacular window lined
circular turrets that create the unique rooftop profile that is so recognizably
You can make an aerobic workout of the endless mazes of
hallways, or visit the indoor pool, spa and fitness center, which was added in
1993—the most recent of many expansions to the hotel over the past century.
Since our visit was in the winter, we kicked off our outdoor
activities with a crazy toboggan ride, Dufferin Terrace. Just outside Le
Château, we grabbed our long wooden toboggan (a relic from childhood memory) and
embarked on an icy hike up a long plank of stairs. At the top we climbed aboard
our sled, while the attendant held us back. He then released us
to plummet down the frozen track alongside the River.
For the less adventuresome, browsing the city s boutiques,
cafes, and museums can elevate the heart rate. A $1.25 ride on the Funicular
transports you in style (and saves you from a longer walk and many stairs) to
Quartier Petit Champlain, where you can visit the glass blowing factory, and
witness the well-preserved old port.
Within a half hour of Le Château Frontenac, you can partake in
countless on-snow activities, from dogsledding, skating and snowmobiling, to
cross-country and alpine skiing at nearby Stoneham and
Mont Sainte Anne ski
areas and Le Massif. The easy drive to these
Quebec Ski Resorts, from such a palatial setting, is the
likely reason Conde Nast Traveler readers rated Le Château Frontenac the #2
Accommodations in all North America.
Following the St. Lawrence River 60 miles northeast of Quebec
City is yet another castle perched high on a cliff overlooking the ice clad
River. Le Manoir Richelieu
is the older sister hotel to Le Château Frontenac and another member of the
Fairmont Hotels family.
The original 250-room hotel opened in 1889. It was constructed
of wood and burned to the ground in 1928. The following year, it was rebuilt of
stone by Canadian architect John Archibald, to resemble a storybook style French
June 1998, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts bought the Canadian Pacific Hotels along
with Le Chateau Frontenac and Le Manoir Richelieu. They immediately commenced a $100+ million
renovation and expansion to each Quebec hotel.
Today, the 405-room turn of the century hotel is as stately
and elegant as ever. The modernization included three new restaurants, an
extensive fitness spa, and two swimming pools. From the magnificent lobby to the
cigar room every common room awards yet another stunning view.
Le Manoir is located in Charlevoix, a region of stunning
natural beauty serving as inspiration to artists and writers and a prime
vacation destination since the 1760 s. The area offers the perfect marriage of
nature and culture. Sportsmen have flocked here to fish salmon and to simply
relax in the invigorating surroundings for centuries.
Le Manoir Richelieu carries on this tradition of welcoming
sportsmen wishing to explore the great outdoors from the comforts of a luxury
hotel, (are you really a sportsman if you stay in a five-star hotel, I wonder?).
summer, you can choose from whale watching cruises, fishing, kayaking and
canoeing among the many rivers that run to the seaway. Right on the grounds of
the Hotel are tennis, golf, horseback riding, hiking and mountain biking.
In winter, Le Manoir Richelieu has ice-skating, tobogganing,
tubing, snowmobiles, dogsledding, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing for
guests on the scenic 212-acre property. The hotel offers a free shuttle to
nearby Le Massif and Mont Grand-Fonds ski areas.
After a day of carving the ski slopes of Le Massif with the
River as a stunning backdrop for the highest vertical drop in Quebec, skiers
head for Le Manoir s soothing indoor pool. Our family made a beeline for the
incredibly unique outdoor heated salt-water pool and the large steamy outdoor
you are feeling in the need for pure pampering, (and who isn't?), the Spa and
Fitness Center has a menu of 22 treatments from massage to algae therapy to
rejuvenate your body and soul. If you are feeling lucky, (and why wouldn't you
be?), the Hotel even has a Casino with Black Jack, baccarat, Poker and over 700
slot machines. The Casino fills each night, with an interesting mix of locals
and visitors eager to make a big win.
Both of these remarkable Quebecois hotels perpetuate a
tradition of old-world charm in harmony with the first class service you expect
of a modern hotel chain. The properties share a legacy of grand architecture,
and similar yet distinct views of the mighty St. Lawrence River - an impressive
backdrop to these historical landmarks.