Marley and ski
Four pet-friendly properties in Mont-Tremblant plus everything you need to chew over before you pack up the pooch
February/March is the time of year when many families come together, load up the car and head out for their annual Spring Break ski holiday. Quebec’s Mont-Tremblant hosts many of these families: its 95 ski trails were recently running at capacity when snow conditions were arguably at their best and the polar-frigid temperatures of December/January were but a distant memory.
But before the SUV backs out of the driveway, some families have a decision to make: does Fido — the dog, not the phone — come too?
The decision to bring your dog on a ski trip isn’t something you can decide spontaneously although it is becoming an easier decision to make as more hotels and other lodgings start to open their doors to people travelling with their pooch.
Still, unless travelling with your pet is something you’re used to, there are a number of things you need to consider before you take your dog out of his/her comfort zone — not to mention your own.
Sean Palardy, the front office manager of Tremblant’s Westin Resort & Spa, has seen a lot in terms of what checks in and out. He estimates that half of all Westin guests travelling with their dog for the first time are not familiar with house rules and regulations, and are surprisingly unaware of the fastidious attention that having a dog on vacation demands.
For example, a standard rule is that dogs generally cannot be left alone in hotel rooms. According to Sean, owners who claim their dogs never bark or cause a ruckus don’t realize that taking their dogs out of their homes and leaving them in a strange place even for a short while might very well be like “the first day you brought your dog home from a shelter.”
I remember the first time I travelled with my dog, Sambuca. It wasn’t so much a baptism-by-fire experience, but it was an adjustment. Suddenly, the places I could frequent without a moment’s notice were noticeably harder to get to. Even stepping out of my hotel room to get ice down the corridor proved to be problematic: I heard her whimpering the moment I left the room. Once the reality of “travelling with dog” set in, I was good to go — and far more prepared the next time. Now, like the famously coined credit-card slogan, I don’t leave home without her.
From the inside out
Perhaps the most important thing you need to know about any ski destination including Tremblant is whether the resort is dog-friendly. It’s one thing if you can find a place at the ski hill that accepts dogs, but if you can’t take your dog anywhere once you’re at the resort, what’s the point?
Tremblant, with its picturesque pedestrian village sitting at the mountain’s base, is actually quite conducive to having a dog by your side. You can walk your dog anywhere in the village as long as he or she is on a leash. Some boutique owners will even allow your dog to enter their store, especially on exceptionally cold days. Dogs are not allowed on either of the gondolas for security reasons (there’s the village gondola known as the Cabriolet and the main one that takes you up to the summit).
The mountain, considered part of the National Park and home to wildlife, is also off limits to canines. There are, however, trails that you can take at the entrance of the village to walk, snowshoe or cross-country ski with your dog for miles. On a recent trip, I took Sambuca for a walk on one of Tremblant’s golf courses where she had her first ever encounter with some prancing deer.
Tremblant also has a variety of options where staying with your dog is concerned. Many property owners who privately rent their units accept dogs, while some property managers don’t advertise that they do, but will if prompted by a potential guest. Here are four establishments that are forthright about their dog friendliness.
Le Westin Resort and Spatel: 819-681-8000; westin.com/tremblant
Suites start at $199 a night, double/quad occupancy, Sundays to Thursdays; $239 Fridays to Saturdays
Dog fee $35 per night, cleaning fees may apply in case of damages
Le Westin, located in the pedestrian village at the base of the mountain, accepts dogs that weigh up to 18 kilograms. That means if you show up at the front desk with a Marmaduke, your Great Dane will likely spend the night in the hotel’s garage. Because only certain units on a particular floor are dog-friendly, it’s imperative that you reserve in advance. The units available to visitors with dogs are guest rooms and one-bedroom suites that sleep up to four people. The Westin’s world-renown Heavenly Beds aren’t limited to humans; your dog will have his own Heavenly Dog Bed too, plus other treats including a Westin dog-tag, waiting for him in his room. Despite the hotel’s firm dog policy, Revenue Manager Rhakiya Taylor notes that demand is up. During a typical weekend stay, an average of six dogs is likely to check-in with their owners.
Fairmont Tremblanttel: 819-681-7000; fairmont.com/tremblant
Rooms start at $199 a night, double occupancy, during low season; $299 high season
Dog fee $35 per night
The Fairmont, situated at the top of the pedestrian village, is the other resort hotel that accepts dogs. Its dog policy is similar to that of the Westin in that dog-specific units are on the same floor and you can’t leave your dog alone in a room or anywhere in the hotel for that matter. It goes without saying that dogs are not allowed in any of the restaurants or the swimming pool area. The Fairmont doesn’t have a dog-size limit and advance booking isn’t required, but it’s always recommended. What makes the Fairmont Tremblant unique is their charismatic canine ambassador, Umi. Umi is a trained, three-year-old Guide Dog, who meets and greets guests as they arrive. Umi is so popular that his hours are roughly 9am to 5pm Mondays to Fridays. Guests who want to walk him around the village can book his services, free of charge, for 30 minutes at a time at the concierge desk.
Rendez-Vous Mont-Tremblanttel: 866-429-5111; rvmt.com
One-bedroom units start at $139 a night during low season; $399 high season
Dog fee $65 per stay, $1000 security deposit in case of damages
Looking for something a little more rustic, homey and further away from the village? Rendez-Vous is a lodging outfitter that manages the renting out privately owned homes and condos of all sizes and categories in and around the resort. Rendez-Vous was one of the first, if not the first, property management companies in the area to offer pet-friendly units. Over the years, owner Lori Donaldson has seen this part of the business grow as “more and more guests want to bring their dogs with them on vacation.” Lori brings her dog, Rufus, to work everyday and understands the significance of being able to offer homes to guests who don’t want to travel without their dogs. With Rendez-Vous, non-shedding dogs that weigh up to 18 kilos are accepted. Whether the dog is left alone in the unit while the family goes off to ski for the day or out for supper at night is left to the discretion of the guest. What’s more, Rendez-Vous provides doggie beds, bowls, treats and toys in all dog-friendly units. “Families that travel with their dogs are usually responsible and their dogs are used to travelling,” said Lori. “They also appreciate the fact they’re able to bring their dogs with them on vacation, so they’re careful.” In the 12 years that Lori has been running Rendez-Vous, there’s only been two incidents in which a carpet or sofa had to be thoroughly cleaned at the end of a stay. It’s no surprise that many of her guests are repeat visitors.
Domaine Summumtel: 819-681-7539; domainesummum.com
Four-person suites start at $163 a night, double occupany, during low season; $220 high season
Dog fee for up to two pets included; kennel fee extra
For something even more off the beaten path and about a 15-minute drive from the mountain, there’s Domaine Summum. In addition to running a full-fledged kennel and breeding Bernese Mountain Dogs, owner Birgit Schulze has a handful of units she rents out to guests with dogs. She owns a lovely spread of land and lake, idyllic for walking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. If you’re staying at the hill with your dog, but want to take a day off from skiing to go to the city for shopping, leaving your dog at the Summum’s kennel is an option.
For Spring Break deals and packages for the first three establishments, go to tremblant.ca.This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.