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Le Massif development...please don't destroy the place!!!

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
It had to happen eventually....Le Massif is going to go mainstream. Over the next 4 years, $230 million will be invested in the hill.
The pros:
Expanding skiable terrain by 30%
Cleaning up the base area where all the trails converge; plan to make this a more wide open area
Opening a ski train from Quebec city to the hill

The Cons
Building a new "Summit Village" (the ski hill is built upside down, the lodge and parking lot is at the top of the hill)
Turning the area into a "4 season resort"

For those of you who have not skied Le Massif , get there before they potentially screw it up. Yes, it is remote; an hour east of Quebec City, Canada, but man what a hill. I started skiing there in the 80s right after they opened the hill when they used buses to get you to the top of the mountain as there were no lifts. Now, they have up to date high speed quads and have expanded considerably. Awesome glade skiing, great steeps, killer bump skiing, can have awesome powder days since it gets 50% more snow than anything around the area, 2500 foot vertical, great intermediate trails for cruising, some of the best scenic views of any hill in the East. You will see more true expert skiers here than any hill I have skied in the northeast. My favorite hill by a mile. And, it is still affordable. If you are willing to do the regular run down Hotels in Baie St Paul (20 minutes away) you can get away for $80 per day for hotel, full breakfast, and skiing. Or, if you want upscale, you can stay in Quebec city for the ski/tourist experience.

The hill was bought by one of the people that started Circue Du Soleil and my concern is that they turn this beautiful, undeveloped gem into another McSkiHill.
Granted, increasing terrain and adding new lifts will really be a plus, but my concern is that the developers screw this place up like Intrawest screwed up Tremblant. I realize that the owners are in the business to make money, but look at all of the expansions over the years in the east; not all of them ended up being for the better. My hope is that this development is done in a way to actually improve the ski experience, which will be hard to do given the fact that it is such an awesome hill as it is. We do not need any more "Plastic Ski VIllages" or Gondolas that just move people around for no good reason without improving uphill capacity (something intrawest has done twice now).

You can already see two of the changes the new project has brought about ; they have officially changed the name to Le Massif du Charlevoix, and the new website is far more "artisitic". Obviously, the image is going towards a quebecois/artisitic flare. The new website is unwieldy at best compared to their old site, and has obviously been translated into english word for word from french, so it does come across as somewhat disjointed. Sorry for the nitpicking, but I am very, very afraid they screw this up.
Edited by HudsonHacker - 11/13/09 at 9:16am
post #2 of 4

I fully agree that it is a marvelous and special ski area, but I can't blame them for trying to develop it and make it more accessible, while strengthening the local community/economy. The owner seems to have an artist's sensibility about conserving the natural beauty of the place and doing things in a tasteful way. My attitude about the grand expansion proposal is: I'll believe it when I see it. Le Charlevoix is very remote from major Eastern population centers. My suggestion would be to somehow incorporate the existing lodging/shopping/dining facilities in Baie St Paul via a gondola link or free train/bus transfer. With it's artsy quality and riverside location Baie St Paul has the makings of an extraordinary ski town.

post #3 of 4
Funny you should bring this up. I was just reading about project in last January's issue of Ski.
I live in Maine and have been going to Massif for a couple years. Great hill. The local's hill, as I describe it. Reminds me very much of Sunday River and Sugarloaf when I was growing up in the 60' and 70's. Low key. No pretensions. A family hill, with some great terrain.  Have to agree with you that this kind of "progress" is more for the ski "experience" than the skiing. I share your concern that the solid character of this hill could crumble under the weight of the developer's wallet
post #4 of 4
Mixed feelings about all of it except the ski train, which is an unequivocal PLUS as far as I'm concerned.  I can't imagine an easier or more scenic ride from town to the hill, and Quebec City is not your average ski town.  It's a solid hour's drive though and a couple of days doing that at both ends of the day can get tiring.  Sitting on the train with breakfast or a beer ... that would be great. Even if it does bring more crowds to the hill, as I understand it there'll be a stop at Mt Ste Anne as well as Le Massif, and that's closer in so will continue to siphon crowds.  

Also, even if the train attracts more Canadian skiers, I bet US skiers continue to remain oblivious, which means on US holiday weeks it's going to remain a great destination.  Intrawest will always out-spend Le Massif (and RCR for that matter, i.e., Mt Ste Anne), so Yanks will continue to believe "Quebec" = "Tremblant". 
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