We did not arrive at Quintessence by water plane, or set down our helicopter on the front lawn, as do the czars, stars and tycoons. We drove up in the late autumn, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, before the families converged from the US, Canada, Brazil, Russia and Mexico. While every room has a lake view (which is a treat in summer), ours is of Mont Tremblant, the world-famous ski resort in the Laurentians. We would call it extremely up-scale-casual—suitable for those for whom five-star is the norm. The decor is marble, wooden beams and leather, with a colour scheme of cream, white and caramel that thumbs its nose at stains and spills. Each room has a fireplace and the necessities to get the fire started. Spa Sans Sabots suggests an in-room massage, and since we’ve been sitting in a car for several hours, it sounds like a great idea. The masseur has the right attitude, a mix of warmth and professionalism, as he lights the fireplace and sets up his table. The hour passes quickly. Dinner is set up in the lounge at a substantial wood table with leather armchairs. Quebec chef Jean-luc de la Bruere has created a menu that is pure modern Quebecoise, and focuses on fresh, local products where possible. His dishes are complex and his seasonings create a hearty depth of flavour that is certainly much appreciated on a cold winter’s night. The kitchen roasts black cod and partners it with puréed shitake mushrooms and truffle potatoes. Quebec lamb gets a luscious crust of pistachio and goat cheese enlivened by spicy Feu Sacre juice. Family dining is taken into consideration with roasted beef loin, potatoes mashed with Mon-laurier Brie and a juice made with Cabernet Sauvignon. Quintessance looks after its guests, and the compliment is returned.