Baby, It's Cold Outside...
Marie Claire - UK|December 2015
Baby, It's Cold Outside...
Ice driving, husky dogs, underground spas and fine French food Martha Hayes gets wild about Canadas Mauricie region, and not even the -40C wind chill can stop her.
Martha Hayes

‘WOOOOO-HOOOOO!!!’ I'm racing in a Porsche Boxster at close to 150mph on a frozen lake in deepest, wildest Quebec. I think I’m screaming pretty loudly, but I can’t hear myself over the roaring engine and I can’t see anything other than the gusts of snow blowing on to the windscreen every time the car’s tyres skid round a bend. Thankfully, it doesn’t matter, as I’m in the passenger seat, sitting beside our instructor, Jean-Sébastien Sauriol, who single-handedly brought this Bond-style thrill to northern America.

Next, it’s my boyfriend Chris’s turn to get behind the wheel – and it’s safe to say he thinks he is 007. I’ve never thought of myself as an adrenaline junkie, but that’s why Hôtel Sacacomie, a winter wonderland buried in a breathtaking forest in eastern Canada’s Mauricie region, seems perfect for a couple like us. This enormous, log-cabin-style resort caters for both the adventure-seeking (dog sledding and snow tubing are just a couple of the many activities on offer alongside ice driving) and the spa-worshipping – and the somewhere in between. A two-hour drive north-east of Montreal (and 37 miles from the nearest city of Shawinigan), this remote nature resort, built from 250-year-old pine trees, attracts mainly French-Canadian holidaymakers (Montreal being the second largest primarily French-speaking city after Paris). It definitely feels like we’ve stumbled across a hidden gem.

Far from feeling like outsiders, we are warmly welcomed by the hotel staff – and particularly Daniel, a boundlessly energetic, bearded 62-year-old woodsman and guide who is at his happiest when cocooned in wild furs making guests do daredevil things in the snow. Or downing shots of strawberry liqueur and hazelnut whisky at the Sacacomie’s ‘ice bar’. Our induction, on arrival, involves knocking back somewhere in between. A two-hour drive north-east of Montreal (and 37 miles from the nearest city of Shawinigan), this remote nature resort, built from 250-year-old pine trees, attracts mainly French Canadian holiday makers (Montreal being the second largest primarily French-speaking city after Paris). It definitely feels like we’ve stumbled across a hidden gem.

Want to go for a spin? Martha channels her inner girl racer with an ice-driving adventure on a frozen lake, followed by a spot of dog sledding. These are just two of the many winter activities offered by Htel Sacacomie, which is as stunning in winter as it is in the summer.

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December 2015