How is it March 11th? A whole year since “cancelled” became the norm & necessity. The anniversary for most of us here in North America of when all the world came to a standstill. Our getaway to Village Vacances Valcartier was the place we’ll forever remember as ‘where we were when’ life as we knew it turned on its head and lockdown ensued. A heart-racing family raft down the snowy mountain, the big kids scaling down the “Everest” tube chute, trying out the Flow-Rider surf simulator of Bora Parc – life foreshadowing the rollercoaster & unpredictable “waves” of how the year would unfold.
It’s taken me a whole year to get this travel piece out to the cyber-webs. Timing of sharing things mattered a lot this year & since we’ve stayed put – travelling hyper-locally according to regional guidelines – writing about out-of-province travel didn’t feel right. But, novelty & having something to look forward to is vital to the human spirit – dreaming isn’t cancelled. So, as families begin to plan travel “for later”, we wanted to get this review up for your consideration. Because of all the hard this year, our memories from our trip to Valcartier are golden & have carried us through some super tough times.
Disclosure: we received compensation and/or complimentary admissions and services to facilitate this review in partnership with Quebec City Tourism. As always, opinions are our own and reflect our authentic family experience.
Travel Advisory: at the time of writing this article, non-essential travel is still highly discouraged. Changes to a destination’s health & safety protocols can happen daily. Please follow the advice of your local/regional/provincial health & travel advisory entities, and always consult your destination’s website for current protocols and latest updates before you depart. Under no circumstance are we encouraging visiting this resort if doing so goes against your regional advisory.
Bonjour Village Vacances Valcartier!
Families looking for a fabulous destination to embrace our Canadian Winter, immerse in unique experiences & have endless options for all-ages fun, the ultimate winter adventure awaits your family at Village Vacances Valcartier, Quebec!
Village Vacances Valcartier Resort is located in the rural area of Saint-Gabriel-de-Valcartier, Quebec – just a 30-minute jaunt from the culturally-rich Quebec City area. You can stay and play, or do a day trip visit from wherever you are lodging in the vicinity.
How to get there:
Travel to Valcartier Village by plane, train or automobile? Here’s the low-down…
Road Trip – The resort is approximately an 8-hour drive from the Greater Toronto Area with lots of rest/fuel stops along the way. This was our preferred option given the Valcartier resort is a bit isolated from the other parts of Quebec we wanted to explore & would need a car for.
Train – There are 3 VIA Rail Canada stations in & around Quebec City. It would be another 30 min. transfer from the VIA stations to Village Valcartier.
Plane – Both Porter Airlines & Air Canada offer direct flights to the closest airport to Valcartier in Quebec City. Flight time is about 1.5 hours. You’ll need to arrange a transfer or car rental to get to Valcartier resort.
FAMILY ACCOMMODATIONS AT HOTEL VALCARTIER
Valcartier resort offers modern suites that can accommodate families both small and large. The 2 Bedroom Family Suite with 1 King Bed and 2 Queens, open concept lounge/dining area and clean, spacious bathroom suited our family of six well. Waking up to panoramic mountain views of the resort was a beautiful way to start each morning with a cup of coffee. Some suites come with an outdoor balcony.
Rooms are fully accessible and come equipped with all the standard amenities you’d expect of a North American resort – A/C, toiletries, hair dryer, Flat-screen TV, tech-connectivity docks, Wi-Fi, stocked coffee/tea station, and a mini fridge in the lounge area. For families who may need them, complimentary cribs/infant beds and rollaway beds are available.
UNIQUE FUN FOR ALL AGES
Hotel de Glace
Just steps from the main building, at the end of a torch-lit path stands Hotel de Glace – North America’s ONLY ice hotel. Every winter, a new theme inspires the design, making it a truly unique experience.
Wander around this wintery wonder made of thousands of tons of ice & snow through the Grand Hall, Wedding Chapel or pause to soak in the stunning architectural elements – ice chandelier, animal sculptures and more. There are themed suites those daring enough to brave the cool climate to book with the peace of mind of a warm room waiting inside the main lodge if they change their mind. Don’t leave without taking a slippery family spin down the big ice slide or having a cocktail/mocktail from the Ice Bar in an ice glass. The resort offers tour packages to bundle with other family fun experiences.
Say “bonjour” to the largest winter playground in North America! Valcartier’s outdoor playground offers 35 snowtubing runs at all levels of difficulty, including extreme sledding on chutes like “Everest” our tweens braved and the Snow Rafting and the Tornado runs the whole family can enjoy together.
There was never more than a few minutes’ wait to get our slid on and getting back up the hill was no problem with the “elevators” – tubes attached to a rope tow that allow you to plop into a tethered tube and ride back to the top.
Although closed for maintenance during our stay, the resort also has a skating path with music for another fam-venture option, including on-site skate rentals (one less thing to pack!).
If the outdoor fun wasn’t enough, there’s a whole other level of family excitement indoors starting with Bora Parc – an indoor water park oasis with 14 water slides, a wave pool, Flow-Rider surfing simulator and lazy river. Bora Parc is open year-round, and kids under 39” are free. There are family locker rentals on-site for about CAD $10 to store your belongings. Our kids ranged in age of 4 – 11 years old at the time of our visit, and all found Bora Parc to be next-level fun! Safety + Rules info can be found HERE.
For gamers, there’s Espace Jeux on the second level with a tween-approved selection of interactive virtual experiences, traditional arcade-style games and such.
For adults 14 years +, there’s opportunity to unwind at Hotel Valcartier’s Nordic “Aroma Spa”. There’s a full-service menu of services to pamper & induce-relaxation, as well as hot and cold baths, saunas and an indoor pool connected to an outdoor pool.
FAMILY FOOD OPTIONS
There are 5 restaurants – Resto Safari, O’Grill, Café Etcetera, Resto Polynesia & Le Chalet Sportif (*at the time of writing this article, sources indicate this resto-bar is now permanently closed*), as well as the Tahiti Bar overlooking the pool at Bora Parc. While the dining at Hotel Valcartier isn’t 5-star calibre, the 2 breakfasts and dinners we ate at Resto Safari had lots of family focused fare – eggs/omelettes, pancakes/waffles, burgers, pastas, etc., plus Quebec specialties like crepes, poutine, bison and game meats. Although we didn’t use it, room service from on-premise eateries is available.
For a sweet pick-me-up and quintessential Canadian treat, there’s an outdoor Maple Sugar Shack – Cabane a Sucre – with an array of goodies made from pure maple syrup (Maple Taffy Sticks, Lollipops and hot beverages). FUN FACT: approximately 85-90% of all maple syrup produced in Canada comes from Quebec, or about 70% of the world’s supply [Source: BBC News].
For other snacks & goodies to grab n’ go for your room, pop into Boutique Viva on the main level.
For parents who need their Tim Horton’s fuel 😉, I checked & there’s one about 16 minutes away from Hotel Valcartier.
TIPS & KNOW BEFORE YOU GOS:
Play n’ Save
At the time of our visit, the resort offered all-access family fun packages for CAD $99 + tax, bundling admission to all the indoor/outdoor activities in one scannable ticket + wristband combo.
If doing a quick day trip, you’ll save on snowtubing admissions by arriving after 4 p.m.
If you want to experience village fun plus an off-resort attraction, purchase one of their Attractions Passports – a bundling of Winter Playground and Hotel de Glace with a local attraction like Marais du Nord Trail or Mega Parc of the Galeries de la Capitale
Tubing & Waterpark Tips
- Bring ski goggles or sunglasses to keep the snow spray and wind out of your eyes at the Winter Playground.
- Bora Parc does have lifeguards on-duty, but all kids under 14 years of age are required to have adult supervision. Strollers are allowed. Toddlers require swim diapers. Kids under 39 inches are admitted FREE.
When to go?
Our 3-night stay at Hotel Valcartier was during the week preceding Ontario’s March Break, which meant less crowds overall. Quebec’s Winter Carnival happens the first 2 weeks of February, which would be a great time to visit to benefit from city fun & resort life, but you’d definitely need to book early, especially if looking to secure a multi-bedroom suite for a larger family.
Valcartier Village is an all-season resort, but the best seasons to visit, in our opinion, would be winter or summer. If discovering the joys of cold weather is your focus, the winter season operates from December to March.
In the summer, the outdoor playground becomes a waterpark – the second largest in Canada after the company’s Calypso Waterpark in Ottawa, Ontario – offering 35 water slides, a huge wave pool, 100 water games and two thematic rivers outdoors. There is also a high-end, 600-site campground for families to reserve at reasonable rates.
Perhaps because of the time we visited, we did not require dining reservations & were always seated promptly. For spa services, the resort does recommend pre-booking before your visit.
SO, WOULD WE GO BACK TO VILLAGE VACANCES VALCARTIER?
It’s a “oh yeah” all around for our crew! The kids have been asking to go back ALL. YEAR. LONG. With fantastic year-round attractions, family-friendly accommodations, the only ice hotel in North America, family-style dining and a rejuvenating sp-ah, we think a getaway to Village Vacances Valcartier is a fantastic, amenity-rich option for families of all ages.
More to come…
Being so beautifully close to Quebec City, we’ll be putting together a family-friendly itinerary on our favourite spots to eat & explore. Enjoying the resort life of Hotel Valcartier with the option to immerse in the history & culture of Quebec City is truly a fun for the whole family kind of adventure!
In the meantime, you can wander virtually thanks to our friends at Quebec Cite Tourism! Take a 3-D peek at this video of the 2020 Anniversary Edition of the Hotel de Glace, or watch this video tribute to La Belle Province that showcases the beauty, romance and wonder of the Québec City region.
Until we can travel freely again, keep dreaming & stay well,