Isn’t it time for a made in Canada winter holiday?
It seems my best and most romantic winter vacations in the last few years have taken place in Quebec (except for the time John and I slept on the floor in the dorm the night before the Canada Ski Marathon.) They know how to “do” winter in this province. Perhaps it’s the influence of my husband who likes to be with “his brothers” the Quebecois as he grew up in northern Quebec and retains a deep fondness for the people and the province. I don’t know if its their joie de vivre, the French Canadian food, the shots of whiskey, the crackling fires or the sheer amount of snow. What I do know is I always have a good time in Quebec.
In the Mauricie region, about two hours northeast of Montreal, you’ll find the Sacacomie Hotel – a true retreat for nature and adventure lovers. Perched above the shores of Lac Sacacomie, adjacent to the Mastigouche Wildlife Reserve, the 109 rooms in the beautiful white pine lodge (filled with a myriad of stuffed animals) offer views of the lake and the forest. It’s relaxing just to be in such a setting.
According to the legend of Bonhomme who once lived on the shores of the lake – “anybody that came to Lake Sacacomie would live a beautiful life there and would leave in a state of absolute peacefulness.”
Before we got to the part about peacefulness we were warmly welcomed with a shot of maple syrup whiskey. As we raised our glass to cheers of santé (health), we were told to make a wish and then toss the glass over our shoulder into the woods below. We’ll see if my wish comes true.
Certainly a feeling of peacefulness descended on me when I got to my room. Although it wasn’t luxurious it was supremely comfortable and quiet. The bathroom was a good size and well-appointed. And I’ve always had a fondness for the warm tones of wood on the walls. The view off the deck wasn’t too shabby either.
But what was really calming and peaceful was the time spent in the GEOS Spa Sacacomie. Over the course of one heavenly hour I moved indoors and out trying everything – saunas, a eucalyptus scented steam room, an outdoor hot tub and a cold water pool with a waterfall that set every pore in my body tingling. What I particularly enjoyed was watching the sunset over the lake from the warmth of the hot tub, surrounded by nature. That’s my idea of bliss.
What else is there to do at Hotel Sacacomie?
You can be busy outdoors for a week if you base yourself at the hotel. I only had a day and still managed to do an incredible number of activities.
Everyone can go down to the lake and enjoy a romantic walk or snowshoe. And you don’t have to be a kid to make a snow angel. Play a game of pickup broomball. You’ll be surprised at how much fun it is. (The sticks are beside the rink.) It’s also a true test of your fitness. (Hint: Move the nets closer together so you don’t have to run as far.) Skaters – check out the rink in the woods near the front of the hotel, especially under the lights at night.
There are loads of organized activities too. We did a dogsledding tour, and had the chance to “mush” the sled out onto the lake – though I’m pretty sure the dogs knew they were in charge. On our return I think we all fell madly, deeply in love with some future sled dogs.
We also did a quick 20 minute flightseeing tour of the area in a small plane with Hydravion Adventure. The takeaway from that, apart from how treed and beautiful the area is, are the sheer number of snowmobile tracks. From the hotel you’ve got about 3,400 kilometres of trails to explore!
Near the hotel take to the cross-country ski trails or go sliding on an inner tube. Perhaps you’d like to learn how to throw a hatchet or take a trapper tour where you can eat bannock cooked over a fire.
The Sacacomie Hotel proudly states that “it works on blending the rustic outside with a warm welcome inside.” They do a great job and I can see why the hotel is popular with the Quebecois and Europeans. But you don’t have to speak French to feel welcome here. Anyone who loves the mix of nature, outdoors and delicious food will have a great time discovering this part of Quebec.
You might also like: The Secret to Having Fun in Winter: Visit La Mauricie National Park
Thank you to Tourism Mauricie for hosting me on the trip. I truly loved every minute of it.