My friends and I love to go for a weekend away in the Quebec countryside. We live in Ottawa in Ontario, Canada, so our jaunts never require more than a couple of hours travel time. Quebec is a varied province encompassing vibrant happening cities such as Montreal, historical sites such as Quebec City and Gaspé, plus all the wilderness of Canada’s largest province. But what we often go for is the hiking and the food.
At Hotel Lac Carling we are spoiled with both. As we drove towards our weekend getaway, my pal and I passed through quaint little towns where we stopped for poutine (that quirky Canadian concoction of fries topped with cheese curds and gravy) and to buy freshly made pies from roadside stands.
Lac Carling is located in the Laurentian Mountains just one hour’s drive from either Ottawa or Montreal. The approach follows winding mountain roads before finally emerging onto a dirt road to this impressive looking hotel that has little turrets like a castle. Heavy double doors open to the reception area with an impressively large chandelier.
We checked in and immediately attended our massage appointment at the health center. In the quiet and warm treatment rooms it was easy to forget where we were and relax.
After feeling refreshed and pampered we splashed about in the indoor pool. It’s small but we had it all to ourselves.
In the warmer months, guests may also swim in the lake, but as there was a thin film of frost on it during our stay we decided to give it a miss. Once the summer arrives, the lake hosts pedal boats, kayaks, and row boats.
Attention to quality and detail at dinner in the Ayers restaurant is apparent on the plate. We enjoyed a veal cannelloni with a rose sauce and entirely too much wine.
Once we finished our meal we found we were confined to the hotel as there really is nowhere to walk at night. This makes the place feel quite safe as only guests or staff would really be on the property at any one time.
My friend and I agreed that the staff was very friendly and accommodating and seemed to learn our names fairly quickly. We found ourselves in need of assistance after a quick swim when another group of guests inadvertently took our towels. We tiptoed down a corridor dripping water onto the floor until we could find someone to help us.
In the daytime, however, there are plenty of hiking trails in the forest and the 4.5km of cross country ski paths to explore. These led us up to a lookout from where we could see the lake and the entire property. Hiking wasn’t our only choice for fitness activities and on our last day when a thunderstorm kept us inside, we took advantage of the tennis courts.
The rooms were modern and clean but simple. They suited us, especially as we spent most of our time outdoors or in the swimming pool.
We weren’t the only women enjoying the hotel. On this weekend there was a bachelorette party in full swing, with the attendants all wearing matching jackets and the bride-to-be donning a veil.
I don’t play golf but there is a beautiful 18-hole course mentioned by several golfing magazines.
The hotel has undergone a change in administration and a renovation that saw it reopen late last fall, and the place feels re-energized as a result.