The Zoobox

- Paleo-friendly accommodations in Eastman, Quebec -
 
zoobox
Photo Credit: Le Vertendre

December 16, 2015 - Approximately two weeks ago, we had the opportunity to stay two nights at Le Vertendre's Zoobox located in the Eastern Township of Eastman, Quebec. Before our trip, I asked several people if they have ever heard of the zoobox or the town of Eastman before and quite surprisingly, all of the people I asked have not. Sure, they have heard of Quebec City, Mont Tremblant, Montreal and a few ski hills here and there, but apart from those areas, the rest of Quebec remains a mystery to them. Without a doubt, it became apparent to me that it was definitely time to spread the news about these hidden gems.
 
zoobox bed
Photo Credit: Le Vertendre
The bed in our zoobox can be pulled up to the ceiling by a pulley to free up some space

A 100% Self-Sufficient Luxurious Stay in the Woods
 
For all of you travellers out there who are interested in self-sustainability, eco-tourism, and green travel, Le Vertendre's zoobox is 100% self-sufficient. A peaceful retreat in the woods, the zoobox is powered by solar panels, comes equipped with a rain-fall harvested shower, and even an energy-generating bicycle which powers the popcorn maker and television. The bicycle gives guests an idea just how much power it takes to generate electricity - 15 minutes of non-stop pedaling for some popcorn or a movie. The particular zoobox we stayed in (there are three in total) contained an upper fort/play/sleep area for the kids. Two ladders lead up to two sleeping bunks. A king-sized bed (it may have been larger because it did fit all five of us at one point!) hangs...that's right, hangs(!) from the ceiling and can be brought up and down by a pulley in order to free up some space. The zoobox also contains a heated bath on wheels which you can roll out on the deck if you wish and large bay windows that provide you with panoramic views of your surroundings (they open up completely). The kids were thrilled about the hammocks located on the deck, as well as the climbing wall, chalkboard, and game area inside the zoobox. The zoobox also comes with a full kitchen which is a bonus for families or travellers like us who have to heed to dietary restrictions. The zoobox has everything a traveller needs and more. It was essentially 'camping' in luxury.
 
zoobox play area
Randy standing by the eating area, fireplace, climbing wall, and electricity-generating bicycle

For larger groups, Le Vertendre offers several self-sufficient cottages which can fit between 6-14 guests. Fully equipped like the zoobox, these cottages offer all the comforts of home. More information about these cottages can be found at Le Vertendre's website.

What is there to do around the zoobox?

For those of you wondering what there is to do in and around the area, Le Vertendre's properties are located close to skiing and golfing. There are also cross-country skiing, hiking, and snowshoeing trails located all around the woods the properties are located on, as well as lakes and streams suitable for swimming during the warmer months.
 
zoobox scenery
View of the outside from the front of our zoobox

What is there to do in Eastman?

It is definitely recommended that visitors to Eastman and the zoobox have a vehicle to get around town. Eastman has several places worth visiting such as the Eastman spa for visitors looking to relax and unwind. For active guests, Arbre Aventure is the place to visit with tree-top walking and zip lining courses available to visitors ages 3 years old and up during the summer, and snow tubing during the winter on the longest tubing trail in the Eastern Townships. During our stay at the zoobox, we made a point to visit Savonnerie des Diligences, a soap shop which manufactures natural soap. What sets this soap shop apart from others I have visited is the brilliantly crafted characters around each soap (to an art-enthusiast like me, I especially enjoyed the illustrations found on each soap cover!), and the fact their soaps are completely natural - they divulge every ingredient found in their soaps and body products. Too often, I have visited soap stores purporting to carry natural soaps only to find the ingredients state otherwise - this was not the case with Savonnerie des Diligences! Driving around Eastman and its surrounding areas, guests will also discover several quaint shops worth perusing.
 
zoobox hiking
The kids hiking outside of the zoobox

Where to Eat

Guests can bring their own food because the zoobox comes with a fully-equipped kitchen. The kitchen also contains all the utensils and appliances you could possibly need - pots, pans, baking supplies, dishes, glasses, wine opener, dish soap, coffee press, and more. The kitchen in zoobox1 even had a fondue set. We enjoyed chocolate fondue with chocolate we bought at a nearby natural food store (Avril in Magog) and some fruits.
 
For guests with a vehicle (and I need to emphasize once again that it is recommended you have one to get around), Avril, a natural food grocery store as well as an IGA is located in the nearby town of Magog. If you prefer not to cook and enjoy a meal at a restaurant, there is Le Côte, a steak/chophouse restaurant in Eastman, which more than likely offers Paleo-friendly fare. We did not visit a restaurant during our visit but from experience, steak restaurants tend to offer menu items and/or substitutions for Paleo folks.
 
zoobox kitchen
Fully-equipped kitchen in the zoobox

Just a few tips and things to note

There are a few things worth nothing if you intend on staying in a zoobox.

Check-in time is before 4 PM, not after, or you will be left to fend for yourself bringing your supplies to your zoobox in the woods. Initially, someone from Le Vertendre brings you in an electric car to your zoobox from where you park your vehicle. The walk from your zoobox to your parked vehicle is not a big deal but in the middle of winter, in the dark woods with no guide to show you the route, it may become one. Going home, we found a wagon beside our parking spot which we used to lug our luggage back to our car. At most, it was a five minute walk from our car to zoobox1. Our two year old Seamus was able to do the walk on his own...no problems. Keep in mind, however, that this is the woods so there may be slopes. The zoobox located higher up on the mountain, in particular, has one which brings me to my next tip...

If you are staying in one of the zooboxes, bring backpacks if you can. They are much easier to lug around than suitcases. Le Vertendre's bigger cottages have garages so walking from the car to your accommodations will not be an issue.

No need to bring linen or towels - they are included with your stay. Sleeping bags are also provided which are yours to keep afterwards.

Kitchen is fully equipped. Even dish soap is provided. You do have to wash your own dishes. No, there is no dishwasher in the zooboxes so be prepared for some scrubbing and washing.

A vehicle is needed to get around especially if you intend to travel outside of the woods.
 
zoobox front
The hammocks the kids enjoyed infront of our zoobox

All in all, we greatly enjoyed our stay at the zoobox in Eastman, Quebec. Would I recommend it? For anyone looking for unique accommodations, for the active traveller, and for anyone interested in visiting a quiet and charming town like Eastman, Quebec, I highly recommend staying in one of Le Vertendre's properties. For more information about their different properties, and to book a stay, visit their website.
 

To view more pictures of our trip to the zoobox, follow us on instagram or like us on facebook.
 
zoobox path to car
The trail back to the car from our zoobox
 
zoobox view outside front
View of the outside from inside our zoobox

Disclosure: All or a portion of this trip was sponsored or provided at a reduced cost in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed in this post are my own - no pretenses here!

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