by Caroline Costello
The Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello is a Canadian icon. Built from 10,000 cedar logs that were transported from British Columbia in 1930, the property is the largest log cabin structure in the world. Miraculously, the assembly of the star-shaped chateau was completed in mere months; its expeditious construction made headlines in North American newspapers during the 30s. Originally a private retreat for elite Canadians, the chateau became a hotel in 1970, and has since played host to presidents and world leaders (President George W. Bush stayed here).
What does this mean for families? Well, there’s always the excitement of spending a few nights in a renowned historical monument — but for young kids, the prospect of sleeping in a building that once hosted NATO meetings may be less than thrilling. Fortunately for guests with children, the chateau offers an impressive — to put it mildly — array of family-friendly activities. This is a very good thing, because the chateau is situated along the Ottawa River in the thick of the Canadian wilderness, surrounded by virtually nothing but nature (no shopping malls, no amusement parks, no water slides). But families will nevertheless be kept thoroughly entertained with dozens of different activities offered through the hotel, including movie nights for kids, horseback riding, bear watching, fishing, dog sledding, ice skating, swimming, yachting, sleigh rides and much, much more.
To learn more about Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, please visit Fairmont Hotels and Resorts.
Our Editor Loves
- Spacious rooms and suites available
- Lots of recreational activities available
- On-site dining options
- Horse Back Riding
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Connecting Rooms
- Game Room
- Meal Plan
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
Guests may choose to stay at the main chateau, which offers standard hotel rooms, or at Fairmont Kenauk at Le Chateau Montebello, a wilderness preserve where families can rent fully equipped private cabins -- each of which is bordered by its own private lake!
Rooms at the chateau are appointed with wood furniture and charming log-cabin touches like plaid curtains, warm colors and hardwood floors. Room types include standard king or queen rooms, river-view rooms, deluxe rooms with pullout sofas and spacious corner rooms. Adjoining rooms are available at this resort.
The deluxe rooms -- which can sleep up to five people -- is most likely the best choice for families staying at the chateau These rooms feature one king bed, two queen beds or two double beds, and a pull-out sofa. Plus, there is an additional sitting area with a sofa, chairs and a table. Deluxe double rooms range from 305 to 245 square feet.
Cribs are available upon request, and cots are available for a nightly fee.
We visited in November (first snowfall). Nice romantic spot.
1 - The place is huge and the staff don't necessarily tell you about all of the amenities available.
2 - The fireplaces are awesome to cozy up to, but they really generate a lot of heat. Our room was located near the elevator (i.e., near the fireplace) and the temp got up to 26 degrees overnight. We switched the heat to fan, but were not able to get the room temp to go much lower than 25.
3 - As some have mentioned, the cost of an overnight stay is quite high. This includes a resort fee, which gives you free parking and likely other things (pool access, etc.).
4 - Expect to pay top dollar for your meals. The food is good, but not necessarily worth the price.
by Shari A
We were 4 women for a friends birthday. Received a 20% discount because we were members of fadoq'. Two of us stayed in the non renovated rooms, the other two in the renovated section. Dinner was incredibly expensive and bread was $6.00. Not worth the price at all. We all ordered one of the least expensive items which was the Halibut at $38.00. Breakfast was crazy! $29.00 for a buffet but if we wanted a la carte coffee itself would have been $5.00. Bread came from POM bakery!! For $29.00 it would be nice to have an assortment of breads similar to the one at supper where we paid $6.00 for half a small loaf!! The room was $232.00 , no beverages. My friend received a small card and a tiny box of chocolates for her birthday. All in all the place is nice and cozy but just too expensive.
The Fairmont Chateau offers a seemingly endless list of sporting activities, including many excursions that take advantage of the resort's idyllic surroundings (27,000 acres of land).
Spend the day on the water, learning how to catch bass, pike and other fish with qualified guides. Families can choose from fishing on Whitefish Lake, Papineau Lake, Mahole Lake, Fabre Lake and the chateau's stocked trout lake. Prices vary (but range from $99 per day for three people in a boat to $99 per person, per day, depending on which lake you choose), and rates for rental of electric motor and fishing equipment are additional.
Guided Bear Watching
You're staying in bear country, so you might as well take advantage of that fact and see some animals up close (your kids will never forget this experience!). An experienced guide will take your group to a safe, fenced-in area where bears can be observed at a comfortable distance. Reservations are required for guided bear watching, and availability varies based on season and weather. Bear watching costs $27 per adult and $16 per child ages 7 to 16 years old (this excursion is not recommended for very young children). A special family rate is available, which costs $90 for two adults and two children.
Guided Nature Hike
Want to see more of the beautiful grounds surrounding the hotel? This 90-minute hike will take you through a pristine nature reserve in which wildlife abounds. Hikes are at minimal fees for adults and children, but you're also welcome to enjoy the grounds for free on your own.
One of the coolest things about the chateau's indoor pool is the tunnel leading from the chateau to the separate building that houses the swimming pool. It's genius -- you can go swimming in the dead of winter and won't have to worry about walking back to your room in the freezing cold. There's also an outdoor pool that's open during summer months.
If your teens have disappeared to someplace while staying at the hotel, check the arcade room. Near Aux Chantignoles on the lower level of the hotel, there's a fun game room with lots of video games and an air hockey table.
Children's Activity Center
For a very small fee (compared to the cost of a sitter), kids ages 4 to 12 can enjoy movies, meals, crafts, games and other organized activities on the hotel grounds. This program also includes some time in daycare, which is a supervised kids' activity room where kids enjoy arts and crafts, use of toys and interaction with other children staying at the resort.
This park is a must-see for families with kids who love animals. Just a five-minute drive from the Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello, Omega Park (Parc Omega in French), is basically a combination zoo, safari, and nature preserve. Families can walk the paths of the park and feed carrots to gentle deer, drive alongside herds of buffalo, and watch packs of wolves playing in the forest. Rates are slightly more expensive in the summer.
This upscale French restaurant that serves delicious gourmet meals throughout the day. There's a daily buffet breakfast and a lunch buffet served every day of the week (with the exception of a special Sunday brunch). Although some of the more exotic menu items at Aux Chantignoles may not seem very kid-friendly (escargot, anyone?), the restaurant does offer a children's menu.
Igloo Bar and Barbeque
Aux Chantignoles may seem, to some, a bit expensive. But at the outside Igloo Bar and Barbecue, during summer, families can munch on barbecue from 5:30 p.m. until dusk -- and kids ages 5 and under eat free!
Planning & Tips
All about the Extras
The resort offers in-room babysitting services in addition to its supervised kids' program. There are also seasonal "Family Fun" packages that include family-friendly activities plus admission to the on-site kids' program, which feature discounted rates. Booking a meal package is another option for families looking to save money on dining.
Although the property doesn't necessarily bill itself as a "family resort," the Fairmont Chateau Montebello is used to hosting families with children young and old within its log walls. The staff the hotel is more than welcoming to families, and will accommodate requests for childcare, children's toys, sports lessons for youngsters, kid-friendly activities and more.
The Art of Smart Timing
The Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello is open year round. Yes, it's quite frigid in Quebec in the winter. But with its large list of cold-weather activities -- including dog sledding! -- the hotel is a undoubtedly top-notch winter destination (nothing beats sitting by that enormous fire in the magnificent log-cabin lobby while snow falls outside).
During summer, families can take advantage of outdoor activities and sports from kayaking to hiking.
The closest airport to the hotel is Ottawa International Airport, which is about one and a half hour's drive from Fairmont Montebello. Montreal and Ottawa are both roughly equidistant from the hotel.
Most guests drive to the hotel, and there's plenty of on-site parking. Both self and valet parking are available at a daily fee.
For Mom and Dad
The chateau features an extensive spa and health club, Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello Resort and Spa, where guests can purchase everything from facials to massages to manicures.