Tremblant’s Gastro-Golf – The Magnificent 7
Tremblant’s Gastro-Golf – The Magnificent 7
By Michael Mastarciyan
There are a million reasons why I love to golf at Mont Tremblant. It is situated in Quebec’s majestic Laurentian Mountains every summer. For starters it’s only a 75-minute drive from Montreal which is a hotbed of activity every summer (Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix, Just For Laughs Comedy Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival). After a few days in the Paris of North America, I always head up to Tremblant for a few days of golf and R&R. Believe me, nothing is more refreshing than swinging your clubs in the morning, taking a dip in the blue waters of Lac Tremblant or the Diable River in the afternoon, and an evening of fine dining at one of Tremblant’s many “terrasse” (patio) restaurants at sunset.
Here is a list of seven must-do’s if you’re looking for that perfect gastro-golf getaway in the mountains:
1. Le Diable Golf Course
The Devil is definitely in the details at this spectacular, Michael Hurdzan/Dana Fry designed championship 7056-yard par-71 golf course. Chopped out of Tremblant’s majestic red pine mountain forest, Le Diable (which means Devil in French) is a two-faced beast – part mountain course, part desert-style track. Elevation changes are part and parcel of Le Diable’s fiendish set-up. The devilish “details” that make this course so special are the giant red earth waste bunkers that slither along the sides of the magnificent tree-lined fairways on some holes. You will feel like you’re battling in a Roman Coliseum on a number of fairways, your every shot scrutinized by an imperial audience of towering pine trees surrounding you on all sides. My favorite hole is No. 6, a 221-yard par-3 from the back tees with a death-defying 100-foot drop to a green protected by a stream, and sandy bunkers on two-sides.
“Le Diable’s 6th hole is one of the most impressive and scenic golf holes I’ve ever seen,” says Glenn Crouter. Glenn is an ex-golf pro who currently works as a lifestyle reporter at Newstalk 1010, a popular Toronto radio station. “It reminds me of the par-3 ‘Devil’s Cauldron’ 4th hole at Banff Springs Golf Course which also has a dramatic elevation drop and breathtaking scenery. This hole should be on your golf bucket list for sure.”
2. Le Géant Golf Course
If “wow-factor” scenery is important to your overall golfing experience, Le Géant’s panoramic mountain views will blow you away. A 6836-yard par-72 carved out of the mountains directly across Mont Tremblant’s ski runs, Le Géant is a green flying carpet that will test your mind and body on every shot. This Tom McBroom designed championship track has all the bells and whistles of a roller coast mountain course, jaw-dropping elevated tee decks, plunging fairways, undulating greens and a chocolate-box assortment of nasty bunkers just waiting to put your sand-shot-making skills to the test.
The par-4 457-yard 18th finishing hole is a real treat. A drive off an elevated tee to a sweeping fairway 150 feet below the deck. This is a bomber’s hole and a very makeable birdie if you can hit it straight down the pipe.
3. Lac Tremblant
The blue water and sandy beach of Lac Tremblant are a great way to close your eyes and relive the shots you made on the golf course. A refreshing dip is also the perfect way to rejuvenate if you are re-living those soul-crushing, birdie-destroying three-putts you left on the greens of Le Diable and Le Géant. My ritual is a post-round walk or run down to Lac Tremblant (a blink of an eye away from Tremblant village) in boardshorts, a swim and a power-nap at the beach.
4. Scandinave Spa Mont Tremblant
Trips to Tremblant are never complete unless I visit the Scandinave Spa to partake in the hydrotherapy ritual that’s been rejuvenating the peoples of Northern Europe for thousands of years. Nestled in a serene woodland forest on the banks of the Diable River, you half expect to meet Middle-earth Elves when you check in! The Scandinave ritual – a cycle of hot baths, refreshing rinses and rest periods is an excellent way to relieve stress, soothe the skin and muscles, and improve blood circulation. My favorite combo, 15 minutes in Scandinave’s ultra-roomy dry Finnish sauna, submersion in the Diable River, and 15 minutes on a comfy Adirondack chair on the sunny outdoor deck perched above the river.
5. SoCal Kitchen
Dining outside is summer ritual in Quebec on a “terrasse” patio and almost every restaurant in Mont Tremblant’s Place St-Bernard pedestrian slopeside village has one. One of my favorites is SoCal Kitchen, the home of California-inspired dining in the Laurentians.
SoCal’s menu is made up from fresh, local products but also includes seafood brought in daily from the East Coast. The menu choices are vast, but if Cali-style “light” dining isn’t your cup of tea you can order steak, chicken or pasta. Last July when I visited, I opted for a seafood feast Neptune himself would have loved. A chilly glass of Creekside Sauvignon Blanc from Ontario and a selection of fresh oysters with horseradish (Thatch Island and Wellfleet from Massachusetts, and Lucky Limes from Prince Edward Island) was the perfect opening round. This was followed by seared scallops with crispy prosciutto, avocado cream and toasted sesame – which I could have over and over again for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the rest of my life! My main was a scrumptious Black Cod in a honey Dijon sauce and bio quinoa. Fresh seafood after a round of golf in the mountains is my idea of summer perfection!
6. Samurai Pub
The name makes me think of SNL’s late/great comedy genius John Belushi wielding a long Japanese blade while serving booze, but Samurai Pub is actually one of Tremblant’s hippest restaurants. Sushi lovers should put this amazing little Japanese gastro gem on their bucket list as it has some of the most original and inspired sushi on the East Coast.
Samurai Pub’s menu is full of traditional Japanese choices that will make you feel like you are dining in downtown Tokyo. Miso soup, Wakame seaweed salad with sesame dressing, salmon Tartar, noodles, all manner of Tempura, Nigiri, Sashimi, Gunkan, Hosomaki, Traditional Maki, you name it, they’ve got it. My favorite meal at Samurai always includes the following: Edamame, pork Gyosa dumplings, Crispy Coco Peanut Chicken and a few choices off the “Non-Traditional” Maki menu like Do (smoked salmon, salmon tartar, avocado, asparagus, cream cheese), Kabuto (lobster, beef Tataki, avocado, apple, mango, wonton noodles, spicy and Unagi sauce and pesto).
Dessert came in liquid form, a delicious Japanese plum wine, the perfect topper before a twilight stroll on the cobbles of Tremblant’s Place St-Bernard.
7. Tremblant Sugar Shack
Quebec produces 70% of the world’s maple syrup, so it’s no wonder that one of the best maple syrup shop’s in the world is located right in the heart of Tremblant. Cabane à Sucre de la Montagne (or The Sugar Shack as many locals call it) sells a wide assortment of maple products. Candy, butter, jelly, caramel, syrup, and granulated sugar are just some of the tasty maple treats you can purchase to devour on site or when you get back home.
The most traditional and delicious maple syrup confection is called “tire” in French (rhymes with deer) and you can get it in its freshest form at The Sugar Shack. This magical, amber-colored concoction is basically maple taffy that’s created right in front of your eyes when boiled maple syrup is poured on fresh snow…and yes, you can have it 12-months a year at Tremblant thanks to the miracle of modern refrigeration. So if you are walking by the Sugar Shack and see a bunch of strangers standing over a barrel of fresh snow rolling gooey maple syrup onto a popsicle stick, get in line and don’t miss out on the mother of all maple syrup treats!
WHEN YOU GO: Porter Airlines has direct flights between Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ) and Mont-Tremblant International Airport (YTM) year round. You can also fly direct to Montreal from many North American cities and drive to Mont Tremblant which is about 75-minutes away. Accommodations are plentiful at Tremblant and can be accessed on the resort’s website www.tremblant.ca. For this trip I stayed at the luxurious Chateau Beauvallon in a 2-bedroom Sunstar Tremblant condo (www.tremblantsunstar.com) very conveniently located on the Le Géant golf course.