It took nearly 20 years of effort and $400 million in investment to make Le Massif an international destination.
Behind the magic of the circus, we forget the hours of effort, falls and restarts. Same with success in business, when it happens.
After Cirque du Soleil, of which he was one of the founders, Daniel Gauthier started the entry game with a new dream by purchasing Le Massif ski resort in 2002. Crush the mountains and the area.
Then the idea of making it an international destination, to ensure its sustainability.
An investment of 400 million dollars
Without a magic wand in his pocket, it took him 20 years to get there, and years longer than he could have imagined. and $400 million in investments, of which $55 million is in government loans and $52 million is in grants, mainly for public infrastructure.
“There, the cake is flying,” he rejoices.
The biggest compromise was agreeing to continue even if it was too long. We drove in deficit for years. We only paid the bank and everything for a few years. Before that, shareholders had to inject cash to keep it afloat.
Daniel Gauthier looks back over 20 years in his rearview mirror, seeing both the achievements and the pitfalls he faced. There were costly emergencies.
“Time is the most difficult because it is costly and affects morale. We also lose talent when too much time passes.
10 years of effort at Club Med
But today, he says, all the pieces are there: the Baie-Saint-Paul hotel center, the mountain and the railroad that serves the Charlevoix region. And then, the partnership with Club Med.
Not a hotelier, he entered into partnership with Germain Hôtels for Baie-Saint-Paul. In Petite-Rivière-Saint-François, Daniel Gauthier wanted to find a chain with an international network. Pick up the phone and open the discussion with Club Med. It took 10 years for an agreement to be reached and for Massif to become the first Club Med mountain in North America.
Last winter was the first time the global giant was able to operate without health restrictions in Quebec. Every week, people from Mexico, Brazil, the United States and Europe swarmed down the slopes.
It remains to persuade them to come in the summer, and for this it will be necessary to further develop the offer of activities. Swimming pools, spa and playgrounds are part of the projects. And on the eve of discovering the nighttime scene of the mechanical bird flying over his mountain, Daniel Gauthier likes to believe that everything the area will develop will fuel the reputation of the destination.
Still work ahead
Daniel Gauthier had seen his father retire after 34 years of service to the city of Montreal. He told himself that after 17 years in the circus, he could give as much to the nugget and then take it easy too. But there is work ahead.
It is still necessary to invest in automation, not to find enough staff, and to provide about 15 million dollars to make artificial snow, due to climate change. There may also be a second hotel in the mountains.
If it had to be done over again, Daniel Gauthier would not build in the same order. Its panoramic train, for example, arrived at the station very early. Foodie rail tours did not find their customers. That was before Club Med and its international affluent tourists.
Today, an easily accessible rail shuttle criss-crosses the tracks. the formula works; Charlevoix Hotels sells lodging and train packages.
Even if his group finally achieves its main goals and profitability, we do not detect in Daniel Gauthier an air of triumph. There were moments of frustration along the way, which is rather an unsuspecting man we glimpse. Rest assured that you had a vision that was achievable 20 years ago and that you weren’t an illusionist.
Le Massif Group
Founder: Daniel Gauthier
Head office: Quebec
Number of employees: 700+
Profile personly: Daniel Gauthier
job: Chairman of Board of Directors
age: 64 years old
“Food trailblazer. Passionate troublemaker. Coffee fanatic. General analyst. Certified creator. Lifelong music expert. Alcohol specialist.”