But let's start at the beginning. In 1936, a Belgian aristocrat and financier decided to invest in Canadian real estate by building a recreational tourism complex around Lake Masson. Louis Empain asked a fellow countryman, Antoine Courtens (recipient of the prestigious Prix de Rome), to design the project in the style that was in vogue in Europe at the time: modernism. On July 9, 1938, Benny Goodman inaugurated the ballroom of the Domaine Estérel for the listening pleasure of the in-crowd that attended.
But things soon took an unexpected turn when the war effort led to the seizure of the site by the Canadian government and its requisition by the army. The buildings were then abandoned and their declining state led to several being demolished, including the Hotel de la Pointe Bleue in 2012. It was not until 2014 that they were classified as "heritage buildings" by the Ministry of Culture. After discussions between the municipality and the owner, the shopping center became a town hall and a community center. The sporting club had been transformed into a hotel by NEUF two years earlier, with an added story and a completely new wing totaling 200 suites.
The Esterel Resort has since become the destination of choice for local and international tourists and has won several awards, including the Grand Prix du tourisme québécois.
Photo credit: Alex St-Jean