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Charlevoix Massif
Unparalleled recreational

The Charlevoix Massif is an all-season resort complex extending more than 20 km along the St. Lawrence River between Baie-Saint-Paul and Petite-Rivière-Saint-François, including over 120 km2 of mountainous terrain.

Charlevoix Massif
  • Initial opening: 2010
  • Completion date: 2013
  • Total investment: more than CA$230 million (2002-2013)
  • Accommodation: 400 units: hotel complex, guesthouses, chalets, alternative options (wind house, tree house, bridge house, sleeping car, spa concept)
  • Job creation: nearly 600 seasonal and full-time jobs in operating mode (2010-2013); 350 jobs per year in construction mode (2008-2012)
  • Project-related acquisitions by developer Daniel Gauthier: Le Massif ski resort (September 2002); La Ferme/Baie Saint Paul (April 2005); Quebec City-La Malbaie rail line (November 2008)

Once the project is completed in 2013, it will differ significantly from traditional ski resorts. Developed in harmony with the environment, the Massif’s unique and diversified infrastructure and program of activities will attract a mix of local and international visitors seeking a broad range of recreational opportunities.

“It all started with our efforts to maintain the viability of Le Massif ski resort, which is a major asset for the region,” explains Frédéric Gonzalo, vice-president of marketing and communications for Le Massif Group. “Group president Daniel Gauthier, who acquired the rights to the property back in 2002, came up with the idea of promoting the mountain all year-round, rather than just in winter, and of creating links to neighbouring sites. With its varied and picturesque scenery, wide range of sporting and cultural activities and deep community roots, the Charlevoix region is rich with possibility.”

As one of Cirque du Soleil’s co-founders, Daniel Gauthier oversaw the Cirque’s business operations for many years. He is also the driving force behind the Massif project, which is clearly shaped by his past experience and his abiding interest in innovation and creativity. For example, the resort accommodation options, currently in the planning stages, include a tree house, a bridge house and a railway-style sleeping car!

Over the top

The Massif complex is divided into four different areas: the Pôle de la Ferme; the Base; the Crêtes (or Crest); and the Massif ski resort. Located in downtown Baie-Saint-Paul, the Pôle de la Ferme will include a 150-room hotel, together with a spa, a railway station, a public market, gardens, meeting facilities and a 500-seat multi-purpose hall. Situated at the western end of the village of Petite-Rivière-Saint-François at the foot of the Massif, the Base will showcase the natural beauty of the St. Lawrence River, including ice floes and dramatic winter storms. High atop the mountain, the Crêtes will be designed to resemble a village from Quebec’s Far North. Finally, the Massif ski resort will be expanded by 30%. Focusing on off-piste skiing, the new development will include a 10-km long family toboggan run.

“This development will not lead to the overextension of the Massif. And that’s the interesting thing about it. The idea is to implement a project that will benefit the region within a context of sustainable development, in harmony with the landscape, the environment and the people who live there,” says Mr. Gonzalo. All of the accommodation units are designed with those principles in mind. “They’re low-density, very laid-back, very well integrated into the natural environment. They’ll mainly run on green power. There’s no way we’re going to put power poles up on the mountain,” he emphasizes.

This emphasis on environmental preservation is also evident in another key feature: visitors will be able to reach the Massif by a special “tourist train”, while a rail-based shuttle service will connect the various areas. “There’s already a rail line along the St. Lawrence between Quebec City and La Malbaie,” says Mr. Gonzalo. “We’re currently working out the plan: people taking the tourist train from Quebec City, for example, can look forward to an interesting ride, with dining and on-board entertainment. Those who prefer to drive to the complex can park on-site and then take the shuttle.” The train from Pôle de la Ferme (Baie-Saint-Paul) to the Base (Petite-Rivière-Saint-François) will take 15 to 20 minutes.

The sheer variety of on-site transportation options—gondola lifts, hiking trails, ski runs, toboggans, bicycles, water taxis, dogsleds, horseback—will be an integral part of the experience.

Freedom and pleasure

According to Mr. Gonzalo, the on-site program of activities will emphasize freedom and pleasure, ranging from culture and science to sports, adventure and personal wellbeing. “There will be over 100 different organized activities: kayaking, via ferrata (a cross between hiking and mountain climbing), massage and live entertainment—even cooking classes,” he says. “The idea is to offer a wide variety and to ensure that people feel free to try different things, whether that means getting in a great workout, learning about ecology or simply doing nothing, watching the scenery and relaxing.” However, Le Massif Group will not be organizing all of the activities: “Our project will complement the already impressive regional offer. We’ll add some entertainment and services and top things off with a touch of originality.”

In spearheading the project, Le Massif Group is seeking to build on the resort’s existing clientele, most of whom come from Quebec City and Montreal, with a growing number of corporate visitors. Other target markets include foreign tourists and business travellers, particularly from Ontario, the US Northeast and, eventually, Europe and Latin America. “More and more people are looking for something other than what the major vacation destinations are offering. We’re going to provide a human-scale experience in a unique setting, with breathtaking mountain and river views—all only 85 km from the Quebec City airport.” An enticing description for lovers of natural beauty, outdoor recreation and new experiences, wherever they may live!

Véronique Lord

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