Guy Laroch is the son of a hotelier, but at an early age he was taken with the pleasures of food. Laroche became a restaurant server at La Caravelle in Old Quebec, then, in the mid 80s he discovered European gastronomy and wines and and was instantly hooked. His many visits to Faubourg St-Honoré on Grande Allée confirms his passion for wine.
A few years later Laroch took a hotel sommelier course at l`école Laurentians, the course was taught by renowned sommelier Jacques Orhon. The class was held at La Grande Table Serge Bruyere where he was hired later as sommelier while managing the family hotel.
In 1996 Guy moved to Alberta where he became Maître d` and sommelier at the Edith Cavell Dining Room. This was the start of ten years at Fairmont Hotels and Resorts which included time at the Beaver Club at the Queen Elizabeth of Montreal and Le Charlevoix at Manoir Richelieu, two restaurants rated Four Diamonds.
After brief spells at Capitole de Québec and at Loews Le Concorde in Quebec City, Guy returned to his first love. He is now Director of l`Auberge Mountain Chic-Chocs, a Sépaq property. This Four Diamond inn perched at an elevation of over 600 meters in the Chic-Chocs offers outdoor activities such as walking in the forest in summer and backcountry skiing and snowshoeing in winter. Guests are accommodated in luxurious rooms and an excellent wine list complements the delicious meals served by our renowned chef, Alain Laflamme.
How do the experiences you offer at Chic-Choc Mountain Lodge give guests a unique perspective on the history, environment or culture of your region?
By it’s location the lodge showcases the Chic-Choc mountain range. Guests are often surprised by the size of the mountains, most people do not know that we have these big mountains in eastern Canada.
How have the experiences that you offer evolved since their inception?
The experiences have not evolved that much. It has been more fine tuning than big changes.
What is one detail of the experience of staying at Chic-Choc that may go unnoticed by guests, but which you feel is important?
At the lodge it’s a very relaxing atmosphere, guests don’t realize all of the logistics it takes to bring in food, wine, beer, fuel, laundry etc..
What do you wish every guest knew as they consider a stay at Chic-Choc?
Guests should know that staying here is a very unique experience, it combines outdoors activities, gastronomy, comfort and conviviality. And also that there are basically no mosquitoes in summer!
What is one travel trend that really excites you?
A travel trend that excites me is that fact that more and more people are willing to disconnect from internet. There is no WiFi at the lodge and a lot of our guests come specifically for that reason.
What sets Chic-Choc apart from other lodges in the region?
One unique aspect of our lodge is that the guests leave their cars 55 km away and then we bring them to the lodge in our own vehicles. From the beginning this lets guests know that they will be well cared for. Additionally, in the winter months the last 22 km are made on vehicles with tracks which adds to the experience.
What is one insiders tip to getting the most out of an experiential travel vacation?
Be ready to be surprised.
What is one strategy that has helped your business to grow?
Few years ago we started to offer a rebate to our returning guests and it has worked very well. Often, these guests have become like ambassadors and word of mouth is best recommendation possible.
What is one personal habit that has helped you to be successful?
Having a good routine has definitely helped me a lot. Wake up early and you will have time to go out during the day and share magic moments with your guests.
Please share one instance where a guest had a moving or emotional reaction to the experience you provided to them.
I don’t have a specific guest to mention but it is not rare that people cry a little when they leave, or even when they arrive and discover the beautiful scenery at the lodge.