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Remind you of Queenstown?: Mont-Tremblant Resort in Canada PICTURE@TREMBLANT9

Having earlier visited four-season North American resorts Whistler and Aspen, Philip Chandler checked out another one while holidaying in Canada last month. Dusting off his schoolboy French, he finds out about picturesque tourist drawcard, Mont-Tremblant 

IT might be in Canada’s French-speaking province of Quebec, but Mont-Tremblant Resort doesn’t look too different from Queenstown.

A four-season visitor destination, it’s dominated by a mountain and a lake.

The mountain even has a gondola for sightseers (and skiers), a summer luge owned by Queenstown’s Skyline Enterprises, a familiar Ziptrek Ecotours zipline tour and a via ferrata guided cliff climb.

And there’s a LUMA-like light and sound night walk over summer called Tonga Lumina.

Distinctively, the lower slope of the mountain, Mont Tremblant, is occupied by a pedestrian tourist village surrounded by colourful hotel and condo buildings.

It’s no accident that this precinct’s similar to one in another Canadian resort, Whistler-Blackcomb, as they were both developed by giant North American resort company, Intrawest.

The difference is that Mont-Tremblant’s doubles as a ski run over winter.

The resort, first developed in 1991, is 10 minutes’ drive from Mont-Tremblant’s original village and about 20 minutes from downtown.

Starting June 21, the city council’s made the bus service, linking those three hubs, free.

Mont-Tremblant councillor Pascal De Bellefeuille, in his lilting French accent, explains the main aim’s “to link all those sectors and try to take out as much as possible the car from the street, and the parking, because three million visitors a year puts pressure on all the system”.

Councillor: Pascal De Bellefeuille

While of great assistance to those visitors, the free bus service is also designed to help locals, including Mont-Tremblant’s workforce, get around – while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Bellefeuille breaks down the city’s population into three segments – 10,000-plus locals, ‘weekenders’ from the likes of Montreal and Ottawa who own holiday homes, and visitors.

Bolstered by that middle group, Mont-Tremblant’s weekend population can swell to about 50,000, he says.

Speaking of locals, Bellefeuille says his council’s working “very hard” to offer more affordable apartments and homes due to the rising value of real estate.

However, he explains that what helps is many locals live further afield in much more affordable towns.

Despite Mont-Tremblant’s lengthy ski season, Bellefeuille says summer visitation in the past four years has overtaken winter’s numbers.

He attributes that to the large number of events like music festivals, including a 10-day international blues festival, and major sports and wellbeing events like Ironman.

That also encourages year-round employment, he says – a ski worker might work at a golf course in summer, for example.

Bellefeuile concedes that, like other resorts, many jobs are still seasonal and low-paid, but along with the resort association and local chamber of commerce, his council’s trying ‘to improve all the human resources in town and help all the businesses find quality staff”.

Meanwhile, he’s very proud of Mont-Tremblant’s ‘2030 vision’, developed by mayor Luc Brisebois and his council.

The city, among several mission statements, “cares about the quality of life of its citizens”, “constantly improves the Mont-Tremblant experience and encourages a healthy, active lifestyle”, “ensures that its natural, cultural and built heritage is highlighted and enhanced”, and “bases its decisions and actions on principles of sustainable development to ensure a strong, varied, regional economy”.

scoop@scene.co.nz

NEXT WEEK: Scoop goes luging in Mont-Tremblant