The Gray Rocks abandoned hotel - Photo by Pierre Bourgault
The Gray Rocks abandoned hotel

The Gray Rocks abandoned hotel

The Gray Rocks abandoned hotel

Another collateral damage of Bernard Madoff’s crimes

Mont-Tremblant (Quebec), Canada

Let's be honest, against the millions of dollars in investments made at Mont-Tremblant Resort located only a few kilometers away, Gray Rocks Hotel was doomed to a certain death. The infrastructure of the aging 103 years old hotel coupled with financial issues made it impossible to update its facilities.
Thus, on March 29th, 2009, the door was locked for good and more than 265 employees became unemployed. Behind closed doors, more than a hundred year of history suddenly ended.

Gray Rocks was founded in 1905 by George Wheeler, an American from New Hampshire who arrived in the region in 1894 as a lumberjack. Standing in front of the 105-room hotel: the Sugar Loaf mountain (189 meters (620 feet)), with 22 ski runs, renowned ski center for several decades. And behind, the Ouimet lake. And all around? Forests, deer, and a tranquility that made the reputation of the hotel. In short, a haven of over 500 acres.

Gray Rock golf course - 1940s
Photos: John Oldfield

The hotel remained in the family for over three generations. George Wheeler’s granddaughter Lucille won the first Canadian Olympic medal in alpine skiing (bronze) in 1956 at Cortina d'Ampezzo in Italy. Funny fact, Montreal almost obtained the 1956 Winter Game as it came second to Italy. It was at Gray Rocks that Lucille Weeler used her first skis.

Gray Rock hotel - 1940s
Photos: John Oldfield

The fatal blow

Even if Philip Robinson, one of the former owners, was aware that the hotel needed renovations, the final uppercut came from New York. In the late 1980s, he had already lost over a million dollars and a half annually with the ski center, and those losses were offset by investments made by... Bernard Madoff. The same man who later turned out to be one of the greatest villains of Wall Street with a "Ponzi scheme" scam. With a fraud evaluated at more than 65 billion U.S. dollars, Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison in June 2009 and, as a result, most investors lost everything.

And today

While the chair-lifts and every salable things from the hostel have been sold in the auction, the building is no longer heated during the cold season, causing serious damages. Large sections are completely rotten and water wreaked havoc.

In October 2012, newspapers mentioned three serious projects on the table for Gray Rocks. But the economic climate was not favorable for the implementation thereof. After all, the site was estimated at a price of more than $50 million, off-putting to potential buyers. Although these projects remained confidential, it seemed that the only details given were that the hotel would be demolished and the mountain could accommodate a real estate development.

During our visit, several cars were parked outside the building and people were busy renovating a portion of the complex. The site was under surveillance, many signs indicating the presence of cameras.  It seemed like there was ‘activity’ when we visited the hotel. I do not know what they were doing, but one thing for sure the site was not completely abandoned...

Arson fire destroys Gray Rocks

On November 25th, 2014, shortly after 9 pm, a fire was declared in the building, leaving in the morning only charred rubbles. Potential fire accelerants were found on the premises and the cause of the fire are under investigation.

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