By Ann LoPrinzi


Tom, my husband, is a die-hard skier. Since he dove headfirst into skiing about 10 years ago, I've accompanied him on numerous ski trips and have even come to enjoy them. There's something magical about the pure white snow, the scenic mountain trails, and the ski culture. Tom canceled our trip out west after September 11, so we drove to Mont-Tremblant in Canada one long weekend in January.

There was no formula for choosing Mont-Tremblant. We hadn't been there before and heard good things about it. Tom researched the conditions, the snow, and anything to do with the mountain. The 3,001 ft. summit elevation, the 2,131 ft. vertical drop, the 12 lifts, the 92 trails, and the 610 acres of skiable terrain did not add up to the biggest mountain we could have found; but with snow being a little sparse this year, the average 150" of annual snowfall was a plus. I researched the "everything else" or the important stuff. The slopeside pedestrian village sounded delightful with over 40 boutiques and several restaurants and there were some nice options for accommodations, but it was the outside hot tub that sold me.

The drive from central New Jersey, with a couple of stops, took over 11 hours, about two hours more than it should have. We were caught in the Montreal late afternoon rush hour traffic. Once we got there and checked into the Las Tour de Villageurs at the bottom of the pedestrian village, I was not disappointed. The visuals are important to me, and there was white in every direction. The snow on the rooftops, the Cabriolet lift that took us from our hotel to the gondola, the charming shops, the quaint restaurants, the architecture, the colors, the beauty of the area, the ski-in, ski-out experience, the fireplace in our room, and the hot tub all made for a fun ski weekend getaway. It was a true winter wonderland. To add the right touch, we watched the finals of the 2002 Ericsson World Freestyle competition.

What about the skiing, you might ask. Tom was just a little disappointed. We skied a lot on the lower half because of the poor visibility at the top. There were four or five inches of new snow while we were there and there seemed to be enough of it, but it was a heavy consistency, which made it difficult for turning. We had a reasonable number of trails to explore and did the whole mountain in a day and a half. . The official breakdown is 16% of beginner trails, 32% of intermediate, 41% of advanced, and 11% of expert. The black diamonds didn't seem that difficult; even I could navigate them. Tom was not happy with the way he skied and was content to ski at my pace, which is slow to very slow. It would have helped if the sun would have come out, but it remained cloudy during our ski time.

"It's going to be really cold there" and "the lift lines are long" were comments that we heard beforehand. Luckily, it was not cold until the day we left. The lift lines were 5-10 minutes long on Saturday and non-existent on Sunday. In fact, the Mont-Tremblant resort was relatively quiet the whole weekend. One ski instructor told us that Canadians often don't think of going skiing unless there's a big snowfall. It almost seemed eerie walking around the quiet village at night, although we could hear fun and laughter from the pubs.

The resort offers the typical winter activities, such as cross country skiing, snowshoeing, horseback riding, tubing, and sleigh rides. We didn't take advantage of any of those, but managed to stay busy at our preferred medium pace. We hit the hot tub after skiing, had wine and cheese in our studio room, which included a kitchenette; we went out to eat; we went shopping in the village; and we bought maple syrup to take home. We went to the aerial competition three separate times. We made a stop at the Magasin General (general store) for bread, cheese, and wine û this for consumption during an NFL playoff game, which we watched in our room.

I heartily recommend the soup in a scooped-out bread bowl for lunch at the La Forge Bar & Grill, and be sure to ask for a window table on the second floor. Creperie Catherine is another good choice to eat either breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert; we had egg crepes one breakfast and went back for a Granny Smith crepe for dessert the following night û both very good. Our accommodations were all that we hoped for û comfortable rooms, nice lounges off the lobby with fireplace, an exercise room, ski lockers, and a coffee shop. The Cabriolet lift was just a few yards from our door. We recommend it. The cost of three nights lodging and two days skiing was 892 Canadian dollars, which translates to 595 American dollars.

My pictures were among the best I've taken on a ski trip, and I attribute that to the charm of the village. I got a really good shot of the cable car. We know that we could have gone to bigger mountains or found better snow, but we were glad to explore a new mountain and experience the charm of Mont-Tremblant.