Tell the truth, now. Did you think about vacationing in Quebec this year more than ever in the past? Were your neighbours, friends and work colleagues regaling you with tales of their recent trips to see the fjords in the Saguenay? How about their biking trips on Ile aux Courdes? Art gallery hoping in La Malbaie? Their dream road trip in a convertible around the entire Gaspé Peninsula? Glamping in Sutton? Well, it was not your imagination! More Quebecers than usual decided this was the year to “buy local” with their vacation dollar and the next twelve to twenty-four months will probably bring more of the same. This means that now is the time to explore your upcoming options and make your reservations!

Airbnb

Home for rent on Cap-à-l’Aigle overlooking the Saint-Lawrence River in the Charlevoix Region

There is no doubt that travel trends are changing due to this pandemic that continues to linger like an unwanted houseguest. With the realization that working remotely for an extended period of time opens the possibility of combining a drive-to family vacation with staying in touch with the office (or school) as if you never left; it is changing the way individuals are planning their destinations. For example, trips are becoming longer (two weeks and longer) providing there is reliable Internet and cell phone connectivity (which is not always a given in some of these more remote areas). In addition, concerns over cleanliness and safety are driving some of the accommodation decisions as vacationers are shunning some of the larger hotels and choosing entire home rentals and take out foods versus elevators, hotel lobbies and room service.

At least these are the findings of a September 2020 ClearPath Strategies study commissioned by Airbnb and intended to help forecast the trends for 2021 and beyond.

Other findings of the study reveal the “rise of ‘pod’ travel” where travelers choose to stay near family or to travel with small groups of friends and/or family to reduce socializing with others while staying close to those important relationships. Once again, this is resulting in Internet searches for large self-contained homes that can accommodate larger groups. More than “half of trips searched for next year included three of more people, showing how people are traveling together” according to the study.

Airbnb

Just 10 minutes from Le Massif ski centre, this Scandinavian-inspired barn/chalet can accommodate twelve

However, not everyone has dipped their toes into the Airbnb pool as of yet as some may have preconceived notions of what the standard of accommodations might be available. What might be satisfactory to your twenty-something nephew on a discovery weekend of Montreal might not necessarily be your cup of tea, particularly if your idea of a good stay is normally one at a boutique hotel. Well, you might be surprised with some of the options that recently arose from my recent Airbnb search when scoping out some options for my next Quebec-centric trip! In fact, to help web browsers hone in on some of the more upscale properties, Airbnb identifies these more exclusive properties as qualifying for their “Airbnb Luxe” or “Airbnb Plus” categories. “Superhosts” are also identified for their guest satisfaction reviews.

So, how did my search go?

Ever heard of Port-au-Persil in the Charlevoix region where one day I hope to visit Les Jardins de Quatre-Vents made famous by the recent film The Gardener? However, try to find a boutique hotel in the area. Not easy. Instead, check out this entire home for rent on Cap-à-l’Aigle overlooking the Saint-Lawrence River a few kilometres south! Modern architecture, spectacular views, spotless cleanliness, sleeps 14 with 4 bedrooms and 4.5 baths. Wow! ($456/night in November) (Please see image number 1.)

Airbnb

Maison des Stagiaires next to les Jardins de Métis (the Reford Gardens) in Grand-Métis near Rimouski

Maybe you are looking for a potential ski lodge and something closer to Quebec City? Here’s a Scandinavian-inspired modern barn located 10 minutes away from Le Massif ski resort in Petite-Rivière-Saint-Francois with room for 12 clocking in at $395/night. Not too shabby!  (Please see image number 2.)

Perhaps you have a preference for the Lower Saint Lawrence region across the Saint Lawrence River near Rimouski? Why not then consider La Maison Des Stagiaires located next to les Jardins de Métis (the Reford Gardens) in Grand-Métis? Nice clean interior in award-winning architecture for a mere $265 per night? (Only available October- June as in the summer months it accommodates interns working at the gardens). (Please see image number 3.)

Want something closer to home in case you have to commute for the occasional in-person meeting? Mont Tremblant has a wide variety of choices for the discerning traveler. This classic mountain lodge has a huge kitchen, a large dining room table, a stone gas fireplace, 3 full bathrooms and sleeps 10 – perfect for a family reunion! ($683 per night). (Please see image number 4.)

Not modern enough for you? Then have a look at the Chalet Trappeur in the nearby enclave of Le Grande Foret. It also sleeps 10 with 3.5 baths. ($867 per night) (See main image above the title.)

Airbnb

This classic Tremblant lodge has a huge kitchen, a large dining room table and sleeps 10, perfect for a family reunion

For potential guests who may be preoccupied with protocols as they apply to COVID-19 and these properties, Airbnb has implemented strict guidelines for hosts (and guests) to follow during this extraordinary period. First of all, hosts and guests are required to wear masks or face coverings and socially distance when interacting in person. In addition, hosts must agree to follow the Airbnb’s “enhanced cleaning protocol’s five-step process between guest stays” Hosts failing to abide by these protocols risk being delisted by the platform and guests who find that they have not been followed have additional rights within the firm’s cancellation policy. See website for cleaning and cancellation details.

So clearly Airbnb offers more than what you might normally have expected from this platform. While it may take some time on the Internet to find the right dates with the right property in the right area at the right price, to meet your needs, they are certainly out there with more being added all the time. But reserve ahead! These pandemic refuges are gaining in popularity and are limited in supply.

Note: All prices quotes are based on selected dates in November and are subject to change based on availability and time of year. The photos for this article were supplied by Airbnb. www.airbnb.ca

A.J. Twist is a Montreal based travel writer and photographer. Email: ajtwist@me.com