Ottawa ski families know the scenario well: An early- morning drive in a car packed with bodies, ski equipment, clothing, lunches, and an extra set of everything. Add to that list a nagging fear that at least one essential item will be left behind, and then repeat the process for the drive home.
For many diehard skiers this routine continues for years, while others find themselves a more relaxing alternative by chilling out in their own ski chalet. It's a great way to enjoy the après-ski experience to the fullest and get the maximum fun out of winter life on the slopes.
A FAMILY LIFESTYLE
With a beautiful newly built ski chalet at Mont Ste-Marie, winter weekends are a delight for Monica Singhal, Kevin Yemm and their three children. Coming from a big family of skiers, it's not surprising that eight-year-old Chet, along with his two younger sisters Maya and Dhara, are all in ski programs.
"I grew up skiing and we spent a lot of time at my uncle's chalet in Collingwood, as well as visiting friends with chalets at Mont Ste- Marie. It's what inspired us to build our own place there," says Monica, adding that her sister's in-laws also have a chalet on the hill. Monica says that the lifestyle is all about relaxing family time. "The cousins ski and play together, and I get to spend time with my sister and brother-in-law. It feels like we get to raise our children together up there because the winters are so long."
After two years of looking for a place to buy, a lot close to the hill became available and the couple took it right away. The location was great as it allowed the family to ski in and ski out, with scenic views of the hillside. Monica knew this is where she wanted to be and the chalet was planned to accommodate casual, comfy family living. "It's a real community here - the kids all know each other and are good friends."
A HILLSIDE CHALET
Built on a tree-covered hillside, the open-concept chalet was constructed by an area builder in a timber-frame style with old pine culled from the Ottawa River. The dark-stained pine gives some local history to the new home, and infuses the modern design with a warm, rustic look. Vinyl siding in an attractive blue-grey shade provides a low-maintenance exterior.
Facing south, both the chalet and a hot tub on the lower deck are perfectly positioned to enjoy natural light and winter-wonderland views. From the kitchen window, Monica can see the ski hill and the glow of the stone fireplace in the family room. The living area on the main floor is one big open space and this was important to keep everyone together while cooking, eating or warming up by the "must-have" wood-burning fireside.
This level also includes the master bedroom and ensuite, plus one of two mud rooms to take care of all the many sets of ski boots and clothing. The kids sleep in the upper loft level with their own bathroom, and the open basement area houses a spacious recreation room, as well as two guest bedrooms for visitors and sleepovers.
While Monica aimed for cozy family togetherness on the main floor "where we can all see and talk to each other," she also planned to allow for "calm, adult space and time." So the kids go downstairs for playtime or to watch TV and everyone is happy.
Keeping the look clean and simple was a priority and this is seen in the use of neutral colours and natural materials with a country-style décor and furnishings. For extra comfort, features such as heated floor tiles were added to all the bathrooms and pebble-stone floors in the walk-in showers help to massage tired feet.
Of course, the hot tub is a favourite après-ski spot for the whole family and it's big enough to fit them all. Even though a crane was needed to place it on the hillside location, Monica says the ordeal was worth it. "This is a lifestyle that we want to share as a family for years to come," she says in the hope that the chalet will always be a part of their family.