Tremblant, Quebec by David Dunbar
Since Intrawest (the Vancouver-based company behind Whistler, Copper, and Stratton) began investing heavily in Tremblant, the mid-sized Quebec resort (610 acres, 2,115 vertical feet) has rapidly regained its status as a preeminent Northeast skiing destination. American families come for the French immersion experience (the pedestrian-only base village is designed to resemble Quebec City's Old Quarter), the top-ranked ski school, the uncrowded intermediate runs, and the favorable exchange rate ($1 U.S. is now worth about $1.60 Canadian).
Best places to stay: A condo (866/836-3030; www.tremblant.com; from $105 per night) right in the village, so you can walk to the lifts. Or try the Fairmont Tremblant (3045 Chemin de la Chapelle; 800/441-1414 or 819/681-7000; www.fairmont.com; doubles from $249, kids free), steps from the lifts, with 316 elegantly rustic rooms and suites and a cozy lounge (perfect for an après-ski game of checkers). Best way to beat the crowds: Get your gear in record time at the Chalet des Voyageurs rental center (800/461-8711) the evening you arrive. Best argument for ski school: The bilingual intructors at the Kidz Club are friendly, responsible, and extremely patient. Giving children a healthy break from the usual food pyramid of fries, hot dogs, and pizza, they ladle out chicken noodle soup at lunch. Best way to follow the sun: Start on the north side in the morning, knock off for lunch at the mountaintop Grand Manitou (summit; lunch for four $25), then ski the south side overlooking the village in the afternoon. Best après-ski kids' action: At La Source AquaClub, play an informal water polo game or do Tarzan imitations on a rope swing. Best water sport for grown-ups: In the adults-only outdoor hot tub at La Source, lobster-red soakers can be seen leaping out of the steamy water to roll in the snow. Best kid motivator: Beaver Tails (Le Deslauriers; 819/681-4678, about $2 each). Paddle-shaped, whole-wheat waffles come tarted up with cinnamon-apple, hazelnut-chocolate, and other toppings. Favorite local custom: Tire sur la neige ("taffy on the snow"), a Québécois springtime tradition, prepared at the base of the lifts: maple syrup is poured in strips on a bed of fresh snow. Kids are given wooden tongue depressors and instructed to wait 45 seconds before rolling up the candy on their sticks. Best dinner spot: Crêperie Catherine (Vieux-Tremblant; 819/681-4888; dinner for four $30), where children happily pass the time between ordering and eating by watching the chef flip feather-light crêpes. General information: 866/836-3030; www.tremblant.com.