Introduction & Prologue – Vive le Québec

Early November in 2014, I was looking through my miles account and having been on the ground for the past few months made me yearn to fly somewhere. Things were not really going the way I expected and I thought a break to somewhere new would be a good way to spend a week before the Christmas break. Since I did not want to spend that much to begin with, I decided to redeem my Turkish Airlines miles and started searching for viable destinations. It turns out that Air Canada flies some of their wide body jets between Vancouver and Toronto, as well as Vancouver and Montréal. I was far more interested in taking the 787 which flies the former route but having been to Toronto before, I chose to travel to the French territory of Quebec. I have also heard good things from friends about Montréal so that was my choice destination.

Using the ANA tool, I was able to get return flights on Business Class for flights operated by the Airbus A330 which meant the older herringbone style seats not unlike those of utilized by Cathay Pacific in their older fleet. Apparently with the revisions on Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles, it just required 25,000 miles for the return flight plus around $500 in taxes. This was acceptable considering a return Business Class ticket costs more that $2,000 and Economy generally retails for around $600-700.

It was not very easy to redeem Turkish Airlines miles for travel on Star Alliance partners since the call centre was practically not helpful at all as they were outsourced to some back-office in India. The agents could not help me and it was only through online search where I managed to contact the US office by e-mail and received a prompt reply from their US-based agent. Contacting and booking the award flights through e-mail was convenient enough and this is perhaps where e-mail beats speaking through the telephone with some foreign call centre.

Since I am an ardent snowboarder, I decided to travel to Mont Tremblant which is somewhat close to Montréal for a few days of boarding considering the resort was named as the best ski resort in the Eastern part of North America. It helps that they are owned by Intrawest, which also used to own Whistler Blackcomb.

As luck would have it, I was sent a gift of a $50 credit when booking travel through American Express and the Fairmont Tremblant was part of the American Express Gold Hotel collection, giving me a $75 credit and room upgrade to one level higher. This was a somewhat good deal and thus I confirmed my stay for 2 nights at the Fairmont Tremblant since it is also the only ski-in/ski-out lodging in the resort.

For my stays in Montréal, I booked 2 nights at the Le Centre Sheraton since it was one of the cheapest (the Le Meridien was cheaper but slightly further from the city centre) and booked another night at the W Montréal since the latter was one of the more highly regarded W Hotels in North America. With the hotels and tickets booked, I was ready to explore more of the Eastern part of Canada!

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