For a quarter of a century, Mont Sainte-Marie has been without a hotel. When one last stood open, it employed hundreds and welcomed returning guests to a place they felt was somewhat their own.
Those who know the mountain and its community enjoy a lifestyle that allows for an atmosphere full of friendly run-ins with a relaxed sense of time for leisurely conversations and laughs. It’s a care-free outdoor play world that escapes the masses at ski villages an hour further from the nation's capital. Nobody at Mont Ste. Marie is forced to line up for franchised lattes and costly apres-ski that coaxes tears from the corners of narrowing wallets.
MSM, as it’s known in this tight community, is different. It’s a neighbourhood with a mountain at its core.
Its only problem is the limits of its open-heartedness. We who’ve been fortunate enough to share the beauty and fun of the hill in all seasons have nowhere to put guests up for the night other than what beds we might have below our own roofs. There are more and more Ottawa people discovering the slopes at Mont Ste. Marie and the family-friendly, care-free, safe environment it offers. But unless they build a place of their own, they’ve got to make their way home in the darkening evening snows, hoping their windshield washer fluid is topped up past the only gas stop in between them and home.
As the architects lucky enough to be charged with creating a beautiful hotel whose interests serve visitors and the community equally, designing a structure that fits in with the vernacular of the region is our mandate. When we set pen to paper, our purpose from the beginning of the planning was to enliven the very best of the community here. We’ve made research trips to the famed alpine regions of Switzerland to connect with the root of mountain vacation architecture and we’ve incorporated elements of that long-established sensibility and knowledge. It’s this and a mixture of our own history of hospitality design and our experience with maximizing utility of shared spaces that continues to excite us about this project.
Four of the six stories are enveloped under the fold of a metal roof. The suites are housed there with balconies that punctuate the façade. Slope-side, the roof offers an enormous canopy that shelters the second floor outdoor patio.
Our vision for the hotel project is based on the outline of the developer’s call for an 80-room ski-in, ski-out, bike-in, bike-out boutique hotel. The restaurant, bar, pool and spa will give visitors an experience like no other, just an hour’s drive from Ottawa.
What energizes us most with projects like these – beyond creating an incredible building – is the opportunity to invite connections between people that might not otherwise occur. One of the other brilliant things about this sort of project is the number of specialists it demands. We’re pleased to leave the challenges of landscaping, sewage and road engineering to the expert hands at the helm of each of those disciplines while working in concert with all of the accumulated knowledge at the table.
We’re excited for the coming years of positive change that will shape the hill we love so much.