Nestled between the pretty village of Baie-Saint-Paul, the snow mountains, and St. Lawrence River, Le Germain Hotel Charlevoix is a shining star that manages to delight at every turn. Take your preconceived notions of what a resort should be, throw it away, and you get something unexpectedly awesome. While this is open all year round, winter is in my opinion the best time to visit for some much needed R&R.
At first glance, it looks like quite the unusual hotel but all you need to do is step inside and you’ll realize that this place is somewhere special…
Now I’ve gone to a few fancy hotels in the past couple of years but this one takes the cake when it comes to the blending of modern contemporary design with a cozy charm that makes you feel at home.
The resort’s origin starts in 2007 when a fire ravaged the 100-year-old dairy farm that was standing there at the time. Despite the accident, the construction of the hotel continued and its designer, Donald Gauthier, made a bold statement in incorporating the tiniest of farm elements into every single detail. Giant red barn doors stand guard at front, there’s extensive use of reclaimed wood, table clothes have that farm-to-table quality, and you’ll even find old milk bottles used as light fixtures.
What makes Le Germain Hotel Charlevoix so special though is how they’ve been able to thread sophisticated contemporary elements with rustic country style. Throughout the property, there’s the presence of felt-like material that gives the space a welcoming gesture. The warm and fuzzies are balanced by the duality of straight edges and the raw use of concrete and chrome finishes.
With the 3 of us, we stayed in one of the family rooms which was quite the treat. Brilliantly designed, there’s a queen-sized bed and a bunk bed for two right behind. This is complemented by a beautiful sliding barn door that opens into a simple yet sophisticated bathroom equipped with a heavenly rainfall shower. Then of course there’s the nice nod to the farm again with the pig that’s tucked in the corner of the room.
As much as we were there to enjoy the property, our primary objective of this trip to Charlevoix was to hit the slopes. What’s nice about the location about this resort is its proximity to Le Massif and Mont Saint-Anne. With the help of the St. Lawrence Summits ticket package, we were able to do both mountains on consecutive days. It’s a glorious thing to be carving snow in excess of 60 km/h while enjoying the the St. Lawrence River in full panorama.
The dilemma that you will face of course is that no matter how good the snow is out there, you’re going to want to get back to Le Germain Hotel Charlevoix as quickly as you can because the thermal spa experience at Spa du Verger is not to be missed. In true nordic spa fashion, $25 gets you access to the outdoor bath area (two hot and one cold), the relaxation room, sauna, and eucalyptus steam room. The idea is that you’re supposed to do a rotation of each one to clear up your pores and also maximize on relaxation. Let me just tell you that it was well worth the price of admission.
Then of course there’s the food. Our original plan was to go into town to eat but we soon realized that the food at the resort was just too good. For breakfast, Les Labours has an excellent buffet option with quite the extensive selection. Life is good when indulging on chocolate truffles and cream puffs for Sunday Brunch becomes your biggest problem of the day. #FirstWorldProblems
Dinner at Les Labours is foodie’s delight. Based on locally-sourced ingredients and cooked in an open kitchen, I had the most delicious arctic char with almond butter and verjuice. It was cooked to perfection and that’s usually not the case for fish dishes at fine dining restaurants.
On another night, we wanted to keep it casual so we went to Le Bercail by the lobby for pizza, their spin on poutine, and salmon tartar. It’s the ambiance that I like the most here. On weekends a DJ spins tracks into the night and on other nights it’s a great place to grab a drink and sit by the fireplace. The best part is that the prices for food here are quite reasonable.
Charlevoix is lovely region of Quebec that you must add to your itinerary. For first timers, Baie-Saint-Paul is often a pleasant surprise as one of Quebec’s centre for cultural and arts. It’s a place that has a hint of Park City, Utah but less commercial and pretentious. You can tell there’s a strong sense of community here and a focus on promoting each other’s specialty whether it be art, food or other goods.
If you’re like me and looking for your next winter vacation spot, make Le Germain Hotel Charlevoix your home for the weekend.
Know Before You Go
- Each of the 145 rooms is completely different and unique.
- The resort offers a number of different types of rooms that range from smaller ones for couples, families (the room we stayed in) or even dorm rooms if you’re a solo traveller.
- Baie-Saint-Paul is right there and completely walkable from the hotel.
- Free wifi for all!
- Activities offered for free: Ice skating rink with free skate rentals, snowshoe rentals, hiking trail that takes you straight out to the river, board game rentals, and fire pit (comes with marshmallows) that’s open on the weekend.
- The Spa du Verger is complete with a relaxation room, outdoor hot/cold baths, sauna, and eucalyptus steamroom.
- If you plan on going here, remember to bring your own flip flops. That being said, you can borrow theirs for free if you forget.
- There are two restaurants open in the winter:
- Les Labours restaurant – This is a top notch gourmet restaurant that has an amazing breakfast buffet on the weekends. The dinner experience there is also quite fantastic. Reservations are recommended.
- Le Bercail lounge bar – Great for hanging out, grabbing a drink, eating a casual meal for lunch/dinner and jamming to the DJ Friday and Saturday night.
- Inquire with front desk about the St. Lawrence Summits ticket package if you’re thinking about doing some combination of Le Massif, Mont Saint-Anne and Stoneham. They can buy it for you right there and bill it to your room.
- There is a performing arts theatre as well. Check the activities schedule.
I visited Le Germain Hotel Charlevoix as part of my tour around Quebec in 2015 and loved it so much that I decided to go back. I was a guest of the resort but all opinions are of course my own.