I’ve been traveling for years and have been lucky to experience a lot of amazing things around the world. Especially so because I work professionally as a gay travel writer; I’ve been able to visit faraway places, some of the world’s biggest gay hotspots, and attend countless LGBTQ pride festivals and other queer events.
A lot of times, people just think of gay travel as those gay cruises in the Greek Isles or the Caribbean, or traveling for pride festivals. But, truthfully, gay travel incorporates a lot of different ways to travel.
No two people travel the same way, to the same destinations, for the same reasons. We all have our own individual passions and interests which might drive us to a new destination. And while “gay travel” might lump a lot of people together, in actuality, our sexuality and gender is not a defining feature in how or why we might travel to a particular place.
Gay travel doesn’t just mean mega-cruises or circuit parties. There are gay families who travel, solo gay travelers (like myself), solo lesbian travelers, ones who travel for gay pride or nightlife or honeymoons, those that take gay cruises or splurge on luxury holidays, and ones who rough it camping and backpacking in faraway places. And there are those that travel for sports, like gay ski weeks.
Just like every other type of traveler, we travel for our own personal reasons. Every aspect of what makes us unique also contributes to how, where, and why we travel. I travel because I love to travel, and I just happen to be gay.
So when I showed up in Tremblant, a mountain resort just 90 minutes from Montreal, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from my first gay ski weekend.
When traveling, I’ll generally go out of my comfort zone and try new things. That was the plan for this weekend: my first time skiing. (I skied once before as a kid, but just with a brief training session and only down a bunny hill.)
Elevation Gay Ski is an LGBTQ event that’s been running for 17 years already. Started by Tom Whitman, the annual gay ski weekend now takes over three different cities each year: in Mammoth, California, in Park City, Utah, and in Tremblant, Quebec.
This year’s event in Tremblant was only the 2nd annual, and surprisingly several of the people I met over the weekend were at their very first gay ski weekend as well.
Many of the other gay ski weeks I’ve read about happen on America’s west coast, or in Europe, so having a gay ski weekend that was convenient to east coast cities like Toronto, Montreal, New York, and Washington, D.C., makes a lot of sense to me. And made the event so much more accessible (and affordable) for myself and others.
My trip from NYC to Tremblant was surprisingly quick and easy: a short flight into Montreal’s airport, and then a 90-minute shuttle that runs regularly through the season and drops you off right at your ski resort. I was already checked into my hotel and changed into my winter boots by lunchtime on the Thursday of the event.
The website for Elevation:Tremblant was my useful guide for the weekend. There were several free activities, and casual meet-ups planned, in addition to special VIP package events, the themed parties at night, and guided ski tours (including the most popular event: the Rainbow Run).
A Gay Après-Ski
My weekend really started, though, with the first Après-Ski of the weekend. Having been to a few winter resorts before, I know the Après-Ski events are the one thing not to miss. And Elevation went all out with each afternoon party! With go-go dancers and good beats, it was my first chance to meet other travelers for the weekend.
Here’s the thing about gay ski events, and something that multiple people would tell me throughout the weekend: the people who attend gay ski weeks are almost always extra-friendly and social, and very accepting—especially of solo travelers like myself. I found each day that people were perfectly willing, and often eager, to strike up a conversation.
The Après-Ski events each day took place in different venues, giving us the option to see different parts of the town. Traveling for any type of event or festival affords you the ability to experience both the event/festival AND the destination. It’s one of my favorite ways to travel! With a gay ski week, you can add in some great cardio and sport into the mix. I can see why the events are so appealing!
Nightlife & The Parties
Besides the afternoon gay Après-Ski events each day which were great for making new friends, the biggest events were, of course, the parties each night. Tremblant has a great reputation for skiing and winter sports, of course, but what sets the ski resort town apart from others in the region, is the nightlife of Tremblant—which is why it’s a perfect town for a gay ski weekend.
The Café Époque in the center of Tremblant’s pedestrian village was the main hub for many of Elevation’s events, including the first welcome event on Thursday, a Onesie themed Après-Ski, and the Friday night Neon Party. But other venues in Tremblant such as the iconic Fat Mardi’s, SoCal Kitchen, and Casino Mont Tremblant hosted other events and parties
The biggest party of the gay ski weekend, though, was the annual GEAR event on Saturday night. Costumes and looks were encouraged for each of the parties, and showing up in a themed outfit adds a certain level of fun.
No gay event is really complete without a bit of drag. And French-Canadian drag queen Jezebel Bardot performed at several of the events, and even skied down the mountain in full makeup & drag during the Saturday morning Rainbow Run!
The Skiing & Winter Sports
The Rainbow Run is a tradition of the Elevation Gay Ski weekend where everyone is invited to dress in bright colors, rainbows, and pride flags for a run down the mountain whether skiing or snow boarding. An opportunity to queer up the ski resort and show a lot of love (and have a lot of fun!).
My beginner skiing skills, though, meant I opted out of the Rainbow Run for a lesson with a personal instructor, though. Organized through the Tremblant Snow School, I had private lessons each morning so while that meant missing some of the gay ski weekend events, by the second day I was feeling very confident and able on the ski slopes!
My instructor Georges was pretty fantastic at getting me out of my comfort zone and after just a short while, I was able to ski down the mountain with little guidance. The Tremblant Resort Association offers a number of guided services for people of all skill levels, and with a fun and friendly resort feel on the mountain, and the many amenities for sports enthusiasts, Tremblant has a bit of something for everyone.
Review: Elevation Gay Ski
For my first time at a gay ski week event, Elevation was a nice introduction. Personally, I loved how international the event was, with most visitors from Canada or the United States, but many coming from other countries and even from outside the main gay cities hubs of NYC or LA.
While I saw many of the other Gay Ski Week attendees on and around the resort during the daytime, most interactions took place at the organized events. There were several host hotels, as well, so everyone was kind of scattered around Tremblant’s Pedestrian Village.
Everyone who attended the Elevation events was given rainbow-colored bandanas and throughout the weekend, I’d spot people sporting them just about everywhere I went. That made for great conversation openers, since I was traveling solo.
Truthfully, the full weekend is a lot of fun and the organized events are built to be social. But while I was traveling solo, I think the weekend is best for couples or groups of friends, rather than solo travelers.
Elevation Gay Ski takes place in three different cities each winter. Check their schedule and learn more about the event (including price packages) at elevationgayski.com.
Note: My trip to Tremblant was sponsored by the Tremblant Resort Association. Discover more about Tremblant, including recommended hotel resorts, activities, and even deals & packages on the Tremblant.ca website.