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Catherine and Michael find perfect retreat

Aug 22 2005

Claire Hill, Western Mail


A FORMER Franciscan monk retreat, which boasts acres of wilderness, spring-fed lakes and private islands, is to be the new playground for millionaire actress Catherine Zeta-Jones and her family.

After falling in love with Canada last Valentine's Day, the Swansea actress and her husband Michael Douglas settled on an exclusive £1.2m plot.

And for those with a wad of cash they could join the Douglases in buying some of the surrounding luxury portfolios.

Plots on the undeveloped lake are still available from Mont-Tremblant Real Estate Company, but Lac Desmarais - in Tremblant, Quebec - is only available to the "select few".

The site is 120 miles north of Montreal, in the Laurentian Mountains, which for the past century has built itself up to be an exclusive retreat for the rich.

The Lac Desmarais brochure boasts it is building a "prestigious community that also preserves the natural beauty of the area".

The Douglas family will have to adhere to strict building guidelines which blends the contemporary rustic style of the surrounding community with a more modern style. Respected community builders from the area G7 Development Inc have called in specialists to ensure each estate has been planned to optimise the land, private views in natural settings and the quality of life.

It is likely, given the buildings in the Mont-Tremblant - Trembling Mountain - area that the Douglas family will be indulging in a home with log-cabin features.

Lucy Owen, HTV newsreader, who has her own log cabin home with husband Rhodri in Wales,

said, "We were buying into a way of life in many ways. As far as the house goes it is very roomy and spacious and though it has a family feel about it, it also has a sense of fun.

"I guess it is quite romantic as well, we have a burning stove and a brick fireplace and in the winter when it is going with the candles it all looks very pretty, with the frost on the windows."

Although Catherine Zeta-Jones might not have the freedom she was allowed when building her Mumbles home, the benefits of living on such a secluded lakeside property have enticed the couple.

The pair first fell in love with the area last year, and were said to have chartered a helicopter to search for the ideal spot to buy.

The 1,000 Lac Desmarais area has been split into five phases, and was once an exclusive retreat for Roman Catholic priests. The property brochure describes it as "the best guarded secret in the area" and soon to be "the region's most exclusive waterfront address."

On the doorstep the Oscar-winning couple will be able to indulge in trout fishing and then head over to the shops, restaurants and bars. The exclusive area surrounding Mont-Tremblant has an award winning ski and a golf resort with six courses, which should please the Hollywood pair who already own five other homes. And if the couple want to teach their children, Dylan and Carys, the intricacies of golf then the resort has its own academy aimed at teaching the best.

If that wasn't enough to create a perfect haven, when the Douglas family fancies a bit of extra pampering outside of their island the resort of Mont-Tremblant has plenty to keep them occupied.

And that includes having a trip to one of the two five-star hotels, rated highly by Luxury Travel Magazine. Both Chateau Beavallon and Quintessence Hotel in the resort area have spas and luxury rooms. And the couple will be spoilt with the choice of extracurricular activities. The family can try also their hand at horse riding, cross country skiing, kayaking, fishing or just sailing on the lakes.

And if they want to relax and indulge in good food in the evenings, there is a typically good selection of French restaurants.

While the family home will still be in Bermuda, it seems the Welsh actress has found herself another perfect retreat.


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