This was the second time we stayed at L'Esterel Resort and we very much enjoyed our stay both times. Its location is idyllic. Not that far from Montreal straddling Lac Masson and Lac Dupuis.
The property itself is very clean and modern since the place was completely renovated several years back. It has pretty much everything MOST people would look for, close by; golf, tennis, pools, the AmeriSpa, nicely equipped gym. There are several marked hiking trails for those seeking nature walks in the pure, forest air.
Last year we were in the main, original building. Our suite was very spacious, well appointed, modern and comfortable, with a pleasing color palate; lots of greys and tans, large burnt orange sofa. The bathrooms have modern, large rectangular tiles and big double showers, some with a "rain shower" fixture. A gas fireplace has a TV on each side of the chimney, one for the living area and one for the bedroom... IF TV is your thing.
This time we were in "Emotion", the second, newer building. The room was similar but maybe ~ 20% smaller. Still 2 TVs on either side of the fireplace, but this time with a large bathroom with sliding panels that open onto the bedroom area. The lost space was in the entrance way, dining area. Last year we had a full table. This year, there was a small oval extension to the kitchen counter with 1 bar stool in each side. Still, we were comfortable.
Our 'kitchen' had a small, bar fridge, so you can't bring a ton of food (especially wine) and hope to keep it all cold. There was both a microwave and toaster oven, but NO cooktop.
(Note that the units are privately owned and rented out by the company that runs and maintains the 'hotel'. Each unit has one cupboard which is locked, that contains the true owners' "stuff" - salt and pepper, mustard, etc., for their use when they occupy their own 'condo-hotel' unit.)
We're never REALLY sure what to bring with us because the rooms don't seem to all have the same number of plates, glasses, etc. In fact, we had to call the front desk a few times; once because there was only one fork in our drawer (but, like, 5 bread knives); again because our unit had (VERY) 'childproof' electrical outlets (only in the kitchen ?!?) that even the hotel guy couldn't manage to plug stuff into and then finally because there was no dishwashing liquid.
Many (maybe all ?) of the ground floor rooms (like ours, this time) have a private jacuzzi. It was our anniversary so we brought a bottle of champagne. It was super nice to be sitting in the bubbling hot water of a jacuzzi, sipping champagne while it was @ 35 F outside. The upper rooms have spacious balconies.
One of the MOST spectacular things about this property (to me) is the lake. Clearly, to get a full appreciation, a lake view room is what you should shoot for.
The rooms could be much better insulated for sound. You can hear stuff that goes on in the hallway and even in adjoining rooms. This was definitely true this time in "Emotion". I don't remember hearing anything in the other building. Perhaps it is better insulated ? Perhaps we just had no next door neighbors during our last stay.
You pull up, unload, park (free across the street, $10 / day if the valet takes care of it) and check in. We received a 'welcome' cocktail. Check in time is officially 4 pm. We were allowed to check in @ 2 pm because our room was not occupied the night before. All good.
The restaurants, L'Ultime, or Roc (just a slightly different part of the same space) have huge windows that look out onto one of the prettiest lakes in the Laurentians. If you go in the summer, you can actually SEE the lake and some pretty sunsets. In the fall or winter, past 4:30 pm, there is no view; just big, black windows and your own reflection.
Dinner : If your not on some kind of all-inclusive package, L'Ultime will cost (Fall 2013) $52 pp for a 5 course gastronomical meal. (You can add a granité - a sort of sorbet - for $7.50 pp - and / or a plate of Quebecois cheeses to share - $9 ? - to make it a 6 or 7 course meal). Even with 5 courses, there are a number of "options" on the menu that start to add up. The portions are of good size and we were stuffed with 'only' the 5 courses.
The food was just shy of very good. Not spectacular. Uneven, I would say. Some stuff is great; some other stuff ? Meh..
The lobster in my wife's salad was chewy, as was her ris-de-veau. Her veal filet mignon, however, was perfect. I took an optional 'foie gras in a jar'. I still enjoyed it, but it was a $12 supplement and as far as foie gras in a jar goes, it was a 7 / 10.
(If you want GREAT foie gras in a jar, go to Kitchen Galerie in Montreal. 10/10 for taste / value. They call it "Dishwasher Foie Gras" there - they actually cook a bunch of them together in a dishwasher !! - but it's amazing... and I'm off topic ;-).
Dessert : The tarte tatin (a sort of apple tart with thinly sliced apples and flaky pastry, slightly larger in diameter than an old 45 RPM record - $2.50 supplement) was excellent. The chocolate lava cake ? was just ok.
The wine list... I don't dropping some pretty big coin for a great meal and LOVE wine but will I ever buy a $1500 bottle in a restaurant ? Um, no. Is there a $1500 bottle (and more!) on the wine list at l'Ultime ? Yes.
They have a VERY comprehensive wine cellar, great bottles from all over the world for the most discerning wine connaisseurs - with deep pockets.
I chose a Crozes-Hermitage that I know costs @ $26 at the 'booze store'. It was $62 at L'Ultime (so call it @ 140% markup - the reason I would NEVER buy a very expensive bottle in a restaurant). Given the other choices on the list (especially among the French / Italian wines) the "Crozes" was a very modest choice from the low end of the wine list. The "New World" wine section had a number of affordable selections.
With our wine and @ $30 of menu 'extras', our dinner bill for 2 was just shy of $200. Add Quebec's 15% taxes and a %15 tip and you just spent $260 on dinner... Definitely not unheard of for two, but for $260 I expect to go "WOW, that is a meal I won't soon forget". I am already having difficulty remembering the whole meal... It was very good, but as someone who dines out, I'm pretty sure something similar could be had in 'the city' (Montreal), for about $100 less.
The spa is very nice but again, a tad expensive. A 50 minute (actually 45 by my watch) tandem massage was $180 before tax and tip. I have nothing bad to say about the massage or facilities. You can ask for a receipt for insurance and they gladly oblige.
I couldn't comment on the English-French thing someone else complained about... My wife and I are fluently bilingual English / French so it wasn't an issue.
When I go to Mexico, I expect to hear and maybe have to speak a little Spanish. But that's just me.
Conclusion : I REALLY enjoy going to this place. We get into full relaxation, don't give a [--] mode pretty soon after we arrive. We sleep like babies in the big, comfortable beds.
There is pretty strong and reliable wi-fi everywhere I needed it. The lake is breathtaking. The good outweighs the less good. (For me, nothing was 'bad').
We will certainly return many more times.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Estérel Resort offers an exceptional nature experience. Bordered by three navigable lakes, lush Laurentian forest and a Nordic spa, Estérel Resort’s two hotels offer a magical Laurentian backdrop, the ideal setting for a romantic getaway. An impeccable panorama and welcoming facilities make Estérel Resort the obvious choice for events such as weddings, conferences and corporate events. The three gourmet restaurants, banquet halls, suites with a fireplace and outdoor activities during both the summer and winter seasons are guaranteed to provide unforgettable memories. Treat yourself to a unique Laurentian experience with a stay at Estérel Resort. Estérel Resort, exceptional destination 1 h from Montreal – 6 h from Toronto – 2 h 15 from Ottawa – 4 h from Kingston 3 h 30 from Burlington, VT – 6 h from Boston, MA ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Esterel Suites Spa & Lac Hotel Esterel
- Esterel Suites Spa And Lac
- Esterel Resort Quebec