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2012 Innovators: Daniel Gauthier

It’s no surprise that the co-founder of the famed aerobatic troupe Cirque du Soleil, Daniel Gauthier small, has entered the hospitality world with a dramatic performance of balance and agility by introducing a hip, inventive (and somewhat surreal) eco-friendly resort complex, Le Massif de Charlevoix, a distinctive Quebec destination that’s been receiving rave reviews.

Considered an industry visionary, Gauthier established the unconventional resort with cultural awareness and sustainability in mind, as the location showcases the incredibly scenic landscape of this mountainous region. His goal was to entice visitors to soak in the natural beauty of the area, and enjoy an environmentally aware peaceful escape.

Unlike a traditional resort, Le Massif de Charlevoix has three separate but complementary components, or “environments” that together form a rewarding getaway. The first is the Hotel La Ferme, which opened in summer 2012 and was built on the site of the largest, free-standing wood farm in Quebec. Developed using reclaimed materials, the 145-room hotel features five rustically stunning pavilions—with numerous price points and unique room configurations, including comfortable, spacious common areas for guests to connect. Eventually, this development project will include nearly 500 units lodging of all types, including loft-style apartments, forest cottages, river houses, and hostel accommodations as well. With a mix of modern and classic design details, the hotel also includes a spa, as well as a casual farm-to-table restaurant and café, along with an expansive yet inviting bar.

The second component, the Train of Le Massif de Charlevoix, is an unconventional modern, minimalistic-designed railroad experience that transports guests from Quebec City to the resort, and pampers everyone with first-class, loft-style seating. A ticket also entitles guests to a gourmet gastronomic adventure, which is served while the scenery zips by along the picturesque 140 kilometers from Quebec City.

The third destination at Le Massif de Charlevoix is the mountain resort itself, with the highest vertical drop east of the Canadian Rockies. A playground for skiers and sports enthusiasts, it also offers music, art, and cultural events throughout the year.

“Le Massif de Charlevoix is a vacation destination borne of a desire to share the locale with a clientele that is curious, adventurous, and sensitive to the planet’s wellness,” Gauthier says. “To come here is to participate in a fresh way of experiencing renewed tourism. Mostly, it’s taking pleasure in finding yourself in the heart of an authentic project that’s firmly rooted in its community.

“I have always enjoyed challenges and avoid following a ‘recipe,’” he continues. “My goal was to create something unique with the philosophy of sustainable development where the community can be involved. I wanted to develop a smart project for the communities of Petite-Rivière-St-François, Baie-St-Paul, and the region. I think that today, tourism development must have a long-term vision that highlights the richness of community.”

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