I recently had a chance to experience a FAM trip to Montreal as a Virtuoso travel advisor, focusing on the luxury experiences and hotels that my clients would be able to experience when traveling to Montreal.  For those who aren’t familiar FAM is short for Familiarization, and typically these are trips offered to media, journalists, and specialists in the travel industry so they can experience properties or cities in order to get a better understanding of them.

As an affiliate for Strong Travel services, a Virtuoso agency, I had the opportunity to check out properties that are offered through Virtuoso that typically offer additional amenities to our clients as VIPs.  Often times these amenities include upgrades upon check-in if available, a hotel credit that can be used for food or at the hotel spa, breakfast for up to 2 in-room guests, early check-in or check-out when available, and free wifi.  Often times the hotels will throw in other perks too as a thank you.

The benefit of booking hotels through a travel advisor such as myself is the potential to get these amenities, at no added cost to you, my client. When we get in touch with the hotel, we can guarantee our client is getting the best available rate, and often times we can match or beat prices found on Tripadvisor, Orbitz, Travelocity, and all the other online travel agencies (they too are travel agencies and receive a commission when you book with them).

The best part of working with a travel advisor such as myself is that you’re not limited to only “luxury” experiences, I can customize your trip as much as you’d like and I’m proud to be able to find you the best hotel options within any budget that you give me.

I truly had an incredible experience visiting Montreal, it’s a beautiful city full of culture, incredible food, and very friendly people.  You get the feel of a European city without the 10+ hour long-haul flight and without jet lag when traveling from the United States.  The exchange rate is also favorable to Americans, Brits, and Europeans using the Euro, at the time this post is being published 1 USD = $1.33 CAD, 1£ GBP = $1.69 CAD , and 1euro = $1.48 CAD.  The weather is also perfect for us Texans wanting to get away from the brutal summer heat, I experienced weather in the high 60s and low 70s, with occasional rain in June.

WHERE TO STAY IN MONTREAL 

Ritz-Carlton Hotel

This Ritz-Carlton is the original Ritz-Carlton hotel (first in the world), and recently underwent a 4 year, $250 million renovation.  The hotel is as comfortable and luxe as you would expect any Ritz-Carlton to be, and is located in Downtown Montreal within walking distance to some of Montreal’s best shopping in the Golden Square mile, the fine arts museum,and Old Montreal. When booking through me, you’ll be able to enjoy the following amenities:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily Buffet breakfast for up to two in room guests in restaurant
  • $100 USD equivalent Resort or Hotel credit to be utilized during stay (not combinable, not valid in spa or on room rate, taxes, no cash value if not redeemed in full). Not applicable to Canadian Grand Prix event in June.
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

They also have some special promotions going on for my clients. Stay a minimum of three nights and enjoy 50 percent savings on your third night for stays until October 31, 2017. Stay a minimum of two nights and enjoy 50 percent discounts on your second night – for stays from November 1st 2017 to April 30, 2018.  Plus you’ll also receive a coupon booklet with special offers valued at up to $450 CDN for Montreal attractions.

Why Now Is The Time To Go To Montreal | The Hungry Chronicles

William Gray Hotel

Located in the heart of Old Montreal, this hotel is ideal for those who want a chic, understated luxury experience while enjoying the old-world charm of Old Montreal with modern touches.  The hotel overlooks Place Jacques-Cartier, and is within walking distance to the Cirque du Soleil tent, the cruise terminal, and the new ferris wheel built to celebrate Montreal’s 375th anniversary.  The hotel has a wonderful restaurant called Maggie Oakes, a rooftop terrace and fun speakeasy terrace as well, with spectacular views of the St. Lawrence River and Old Montreal. When booked through me, I can offer clients the following Luxury Package:

  • Daily breakfast for 2
  • Upgrade on arrival, upon availability
  • $50 CAD credit F&B, once during stay*
  • $50 CAD Spa Credit on one treatment*
  • Early check in, subject to availability
  • Late check out, subject, to availability
  • Welcome Amenity
  • Free Wifi
Why Now Is The Time To Go To Montreal | The Hungry Chronicles
Why Now Is The Time To Go To Montreal | The Hungry Chronicles

Hotel Le Saint-James

This hotel ranks among the most luxurious hotels in the world, and combines fantastic service, charming beauty, and stylish elegance. When booked through me, I can offer you the following amenities:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily full breakfast for up to two in-room guests
  • One $50USD equivalent Food & Beverage credit (no cash value if not redeemed)
  • One $50USD equivalent Spa credit on one treatment at Le Spa (no cash value if not redeemed)
  • Welcome amenity of chocolates and water
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
Why Now Is The Time To Go To Montreal - The Hungry Chronicles (1)
Why Now Is The Time To Go To Montreal - The Hungry Chronicles (1)

Renaissance Montreal Downtown

Part of the Marriott group, this hotel is in the heart of downtown Montreal, and is super close to Place Ville Marie (for shopping).  The hotel offers sleek guest rooms, a lobby full of local art (and a DJ spinning tunes every day from 5 pm – 8pm), and a wonderful rooftop terrace with a full bar, bistro kitchen, and stainless steel plunge pool.

Le Mount Stephen

One of Montreal’s newest modern luxury hotels.  It is located in the heart of the Golden Square mile, and sets the standard for modern luxury lifestyle and sophistication.  The entrance and bar area still have the touches and finishes of a well-preserved home once owned by George Stephen, while the rooms all contain modern details and luxe accommodations.  Not to be missed is the bar at this hotel, it is absolutely beautiful.

Why Now Is The Time To Go To Montreal - The Hungry Chronicles
Why Now Is The Time To Go To Montreal | The Hungry Chronicles
Why Now Is The Time To Go To Montreal | The Hungry Chronicles

Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel

Opening in early July, this hotel will have 950 rooms once renovations are completely done, and will offer innovative experiences like a built-in market where guests and locals can shop for charcuterie, sweets, and all sorts of other goods sold by local purveyors.  The hotel offers several innovative touches that will ensure an incredibly comfortable stay, and since it’s located in downtown Montreal it’s close to shopping, restaurants, and Mount Royal park. When booked through me, you’ll enjoy these additional amenities:

  • Daily buffet breakfast for up to two in-room guests, in Restaurant
  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • $100 Activities booklet, Montreal is in your hands!
  • $50.00 Food & Beverage credit, once during stay
  • Free WiFi
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

WHAT TO DO IN MONTREAL

Cité Mémoire

This is an incredible multi-media experience inspired by Montreal’s history.  You’ll discover people that have been instrumental in Montreal’s past and present through videos that are projected onto sides of buildings in Old Montreal and accompanied with music.  For the complete experience, download the “Montreal en Histoire” free app.  Soundtrack and historical contexts are available in 4 languages. 

Picnik at Mount-Royal Park

Mount-Royal Park is a mountain or hill situated in the middle of the city, offering expansive green areas, a man-made lake, and incredible views of downtown Montreal. With a little bit of help from me and my partners in Montreal, I can help arrange a wonderful picnic with food from the famed Schwartz’s Deli.  Schwartz’s is a famed Montreal institution, the restaurant opened in 1928 and has since welcomed guests and celebrities from all over the world.  They’re known for their great smoked-meat sandwiches, and the picnic is a great way to experience Schwartz’s food without having to wait in the line that goes out the door of the restaurant.

Montreal | The Hungry Chronicles
Montreal | The Hungry Chronicles

Check out the Murals

Montreal has a fantastic art scene, and that includes many murals through the city.  The most famous (and largest one) is the mural of famed musician and Montrealian (is that what you call them?) Leonard Cohen (I love his music).

Why Now Is The Time To Go To Montreal - The Hungry Chronicles (1)
Why Now Is The Time To Go To Montreal - The Hungry Chronicles (1)

Check out Jean-Talon Market

Experience the multicultural flavors and sights of the market that attract both locals and tourists in Little Italy.  This farmers market brings a multitude of famers and purveyors of local goods, and it’s an amazing way to see what food is in season and get delicious samples along the way.  I’m happy to help arrange a grocery shopping expedition with Chef Stefan Gadit of the W Hotel, he’ll show you how he picks the best produce for the restaurant he helps at the W Montreal, E.A.T. (Etre Avec Toi).

Mixology Class at the W Montreal

Learn how to make the signature Montreal cocktail, developed by some of Montreal’s best mixologists to showcase the flavors of Montreal in a drink. The hotel’s mixologist Eben Klemm is one of the best in the world, and he can do this mixology class for two people, up to several people perhaps enjoying a bachelor/bachelorette party or group reunion.

Pamper Yourself at Bota Bota Spa-sur-l’eau

Treat yourself to an incredible water circuit without breaking the bank, all while enjoying stunning views of Old Montreal aboard a Scandinavian spa on a boat on the water.  The circuit is meant to promote relaxation, and works by first dipping yourself in one of the many jacuzzis on the boat, followed by a cold-water bath (around 60º F), then resting on one of their many lawn chairs or hammocks.  You can repeat the circuit as many times as you want, and you also have access to a sauna and steam room.  The spa also offers other services like facials massages, etc.

Why Now Is The Time To Go To Montreal | The Hungry Chronicles
Why Now Is The Time To Go To Montreal | The Hungry Chronicles
Why Now Is The Time To Go To Montreal | The Hungry Chronicles

Check out the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Check out their permanent collection, along with a new gallery that includes masters such as Monet, Matisse, Miro, Picasso, and more.  The museum does a fantastic job of curating temporary exhibits, when I went I had a chance to check out their Revolution exhibit  featuring videos, music, and paraphernalia dedicated to the 60’s decade, as well as a beautiful Jean Paul Gaultier wedding dress exhibit dedicated to love.  There is also a fantastic archaeology museum, and several other museums that are a great way to absorb culture, and also a great way to duck out of the occasional rain.

Why Now Is The Time To Go To Montreal | The Hungry Chronicles
Why Now Is The Time To Go To Montreal | The Hungry Chronicles

Check out the Casino

That’s right, there is a full blown casino in Montreal, located on its own island and located at the same place where Formula 1 has their grand prix every year in June.

Check out a Cirque du Soleil Show

Quite honestly this is the only type of circus that I’ll go to, and if you’ve never experienced a spectacular Cirque du Soleil show then now’s the time to do it! The tent is located in Old Montreal, next to the port and walking distance to amazing dining and sights.

Get 360º Degrees of Montreal atop the Au Sommet Place Ville Marie

Absorb breath taking views of Montreal from the 44th (?) floor of the observation deck.  The top three floors have been completely redone to reflect the international spirit of the building.  After taking in the views, head a few doors down to have a delicious French Canadian lunch at Les Enfants Terribles.

Experience AURA, Inside the Notre Dame Basilica

This sound and light show at the Basilica will blow you away.  It only lasts about 30 minutes and it combines touching music with an incredible light and laser show that will leave you speechless. You will discover a transcendental universe reflected upon one of the most beautiful basilicas that I’ve ever seen.

Why Now Is The Time To Go To Montreal - The Hungry Chronicles

Experience AVUDO

Montreal is known for how excelling in multimedia creations, and this one does not disappoint! Images and scenes are projected on rippling water walls while telling the story of those who arrived by the St Lawrence river, whose livelihood depended on it, and those who built, innovated, and linked Montreal to the rest of the world.

Catch Living Connections at the Jacques-Cartier Bridge

As of May 17th, enjoy a digital and interactive lighting project on the bridge, which will be an integral part of the bridge’s delicate structure for at least the next 10 years.  The bridge will light up at night according to the seasons and the energy of the city. The best way to view the bridge at night is by boat right on the Saint Lawrence river, and I can help make arrangements for a private yacht to transport you to see the bridge as well as incredible views of the Montreal skyline.

There are 175 events in store in 2017 to celebrate Montreal’s 375th anniversary, as well as a festival just about every week.  Here are some other events happening later this year (2017):

Festival Des Arts De La Rue (July 2017): For Montreal’s 375th anniversary celebrations, over 60 theatre troupes from six countries will take over the streets of Montreal.

Montreal Symphonique (August 19th): For the city’s 375th anniversary, their three major Montreal Orchestras will be coming together to celebrate the historic moment at the foot of Mount Royal.

Leonard Cohen, A Crack In Everything (Nov 9th 2017-Apri 1, 2018): A mulit-disciplinary exhibition  of international scope presented by the Musée D’art Contemporain de Montreal as an homage to this musical genius and touchstone of Montreal culture.

WHERE TO EAT IN MONTREAL

Maggie Oakes

Located in the William Gray Hotel, it’s inspired by Montreal’s vibrant culinary culture and is a vegetable-focused market grill.  The menu offers a perfect blend of seasonal vegetables and quality meat with a commitment to local farmers and purveyors.

Schwartz’s

As mentioned above, Schwartz’s is a Montreal institution and is quite popular with locals and tourists alike.  They’re known for their smoked meat sandwiches (kind of like pastrami), and is definitely a place worth trying. If you decide to dine at the restaurant, don’t be surprised if there’s a line out the door (literally).

E.A.T. (Etre Avec Toi)

Located in the W Montreal, this restaurant essentially doubles as an art gallery.  The food is quite innovative, and Chef Stefan features creative food using local ingredients, as well as a blow you out of the water dessert inspired by Chef Grant Achatz’s Alinea in Chicago.

XO Le Restaurant

Located inside the Hotel Saint-James, this restaurant blends both refinement and elegance in a plush setting perfect for a romantic dinner or special occasion.

Why Now Is The Time To Go To Montreal - The Hungry Chronicles

Renoir

Located at the Sofitel Hotel, they also focus on sourcing the freshest, local ingredients to create a variety of dishes. One dish that is not to be missed is their lobster and truffle mayo tartine, it’s absolutely delicious.

Why Now Is The Time To Go To Montreal | The Hungry Chronicles
Why Now Is The Time To Go To Montreal | The Hungry Chronicles

L’Auberge Saint-Gabriel

This 18th century Inn turned restaurant is an absolute must, it’s just as popular with locals as it is with tourists and is walking distance from the William Gray Hotel in Old Montreal, as well as close to the Notre Dame Basilica.  They serve fine French and Quebec cuisine with a warm and charming atmosphere that is decorated with interesting touches.Their Steak Frites was absolutely delicious, as was their chocate tort with salted caramel.

L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon

For a truly spectacular dining experience, look no further than the new Atelier de Joel Robuchon, named after the world-renown Michelin starred chef.  Chef Joel Robuchon has created an innovative culinary concept by offering top of the line service and gourmet food that tantalizes the senses and leaves you satisfied and yearning for more at the same time.

Why Now Is The Time To Go To Montreal | The Hungry Chronicles
Why Now Is The Time To Go To Montreal | The Hungry Chronicles
Why Now Is The Time To Go To Montreal | The Hungry Chronicles
Why Now Is The Time To Go To Montreal | The Hungry Chronicles

Les Enfants Terribles

This restaurant is known for its incredible views as much as it is known for its food! They serve bold and generously portioned Quebec cuisine, and it’s an absolute must.  Not to be missed here is their poutine, and their signature caesar salad is delicious as well.

Why Now Is The Time To Go To Montreal - The Hungry Chronicles

That’s not all there is to see and do in Montreal, these are just some of the experiences I was able to enjoy while touring this incredible city.  I’d love to help you plan your trip to Montreal, and together with my Montreal Tourism friends I can put together an unforgettable trip customized to your taste and to your budget.  Fee free to email me at [email protected] and let’s start planning your trip to Montreal today.