Fairmont Chateau Montebello: Best Family New Years Eve Yet

We recently spent New Years Eve at the Fairmont Chateau Montebello in Quebec
What we expected: A winter wonderland filled with so much snow and wintry goodness (read: hot chocolate) that I might be forever transformed from the miserable winter-hater that I am.
What we got: A light dusting of snow and THE BEST FAMILY FRIENDLY PARTY EVER!

Every parent knows there are stages to your New Years Eve celebrations.
Pre-Kids: Party ’til the wee hours of the morning.
Right After Kids: Quiet night at home
A few years in: Family-friendly game nights; maybe invite some other families over
Those middle school years: Choose: You can go out for the night but you’ll kinda miss the kids. Stay in and kinda miss the dancing.

Family First| Fairmont Chateau Montebello

That’s where we were. Hanging with the family is fun. We have games and movies and junk food and good times but I’d be lying if I said that there weren’t morning-afters when I longed a little for the nights out and revelry of New Years past.

When I found out that the Fairmont Chateau Montebello offers a Kids’ NYE party that runs simultaneously with the adult one AND that my press trip to the property happened to fall over NYE , I began sporting a goofy grin that lasted right up until the night of. I could have my dancing and my kids too!


Good No-Snow Times | Fairmont Chateau Montebello

Getting to the Chateau was a cinch. We made it part of our first Globetrotting Mama Road Trip of the year (#GMRoadTrip if you’re following on twitter) and made the drive from Toronto in a 2015 GMC Acadia Denali in just over 5 hours. (Thanks to GM Canada for the loaner.)

We arrived 24 hours before the revelry. It was just enough time to get comfortable. The kids quickly made friends and before long had the run of the place. The Chateau is a large red cedar log lodge that is well laid out with a popular central area that surrounds a six-sided, 80-foot tall fireplace.  I came in, I saw it, I ached for yoga pants and slippers. (Which, by the way, would’ve been totally acceptable. We saw people in everything from robes to track suits.)

And even though there was no snow (which meant we couldn’t do things like snowshoe or dogsled), the kids had a blast. They hung out in the games room playing ping pong with new friends. They hung out fireside playing board games with us. And they played with Monte, the hotel’s resident pooch. We all relaxed.


The kids loved hanging with Monte when their dad wasn’t hogging him. ;)


We learned how to curl together at one of the free 30-minute clinics.


We made S’mores around a huge fire pit on the hotel grounds, together.


And we spent an afternoon that quickly became an evening at the rink outside. Them on their skates. Me, running in and out of the heated chalet, to snap pictures of their smiles.


It was all enough to have them feeling very comfortable and at home by the time New Year’s Eve rolled around.

Party Time | Fairmont Chateau Montebello

We got dressed and headed down to drop the kids off to the kids’ dinner at 6:30. (A fully supervised buffet affair complete with a magician.) I was impressed with the efforts the hotel went to to make all of the kids feel special  including a gorgeous colour scheme and balloon drop!


The Kids’ Party set up

From there they’d be escorted down to a huge double ballroom space filled with jumping castles, games, arts and crafts, ping pong tables and two movies (in both official languages). We gave them some money ($20 between them) for the arcade as well and they came home with cash to spare. They spent so much time playing with the other kids that they didn’t need it all.

While they partied like it was 2015, we adults headed down for an evening lobby champagne cocktail at 7 and then headed into dinner.

What I loved about the evening was the festive feel and complete camaraderie around the crowd.  We were relaxed because we knew the kids were happy and that they could come to us (or us to them) at any time. A live band played the hits and despite the formality of a ridiculously delicious gourmet meal from Chef Jean-Francois Fortin, the evening felt loose and festive. We danced. A lot.


Between every course Ish and I joined people who were strangers only 24 hours earlier and quickly became good friends. We laughed as much as we danced. Our stumbling French no barrier to a good time. But best of all the kids were there. They’d pop up to say hello, toot their horns and head out again. They were there at 11:30 to dance with us right up until midnight and we were able to snap a  couple of dark, blurry, fun shots of us together as the clock struck midnight and the balloons fell.


Then they were off to dance with their  new friends and we were with ours, but we were still together enjoying the celebration. It was the best of both worlds.

And even as the night wound down. As patrons, staff and guests sang around the piano, the kids were happy.  They arranged a movie night in the room when they were tired and we could put them to bed when they were ready.


Songs round the piano had a Downton Abbey feel. Just good, old-fashioned fun.

Reminiscing on New Year’s Day. They said that what they loved most about the evening was how comfortable they felt.

Looking back it’s what we loved too.

We’ve spent New Year’s Eve in many places, at many stages of our kids’ lives.

This was a night I will long remember.

They were old enough to have a bit more freedom. We were in a space where we felt comfortable enough to give it to them.

And at midnight, on a dance floor under falling balloons  I was surrounded by the people I love most in the world.

I can only hope 2015 continues to feel as wonderful as it started.


Just the facts | Fairmont Chateau Montebello

Montebello is about an hour outside of Ottawa Ontario in Outouais region of Quebec. Hotel room rates vary by date.

TIP:  Want to spend the night New Years Eve? Book early. The events always sell out and last minute reservations (for one night accommodation, dinner and New Years Day brunch) were running at about $800 per night.

More information: www.fairmont.com/Montebello