Immersive Aquarium to Open as Part of Montreal’s Royalmount Project [Interviews]

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Montreal-based Groupe Écorécréo plans to develop and open in 2024 a world-class Montreal Aquarium at the massive mixed-use Royalmount development.

Écorécréo operates six brands in 16 winter and summer tourist sites in Quebec.

“We really want to build an immersive experience,” said Jean-Philippe Duchesneau, co-owner of the Groupe Écorécréo. “We want people to be able to really live the Aquarium. So we’re going to have adventures. People are going to be able to learn, observe and play.

Jean-Philippe Duchesneau

“We want to have a narrative so it’s going to be combined with some elements of storytelling as well. We want to showcase really the amazing animals that we’re going to have. We’re going to have an amazing habitat. We want people to fall in love with the animals and also to understand why it’s important to protect them. That’s what we have in mind. That’s our vision.

“We’ve announced our commitment to the well-being of the animals. Our goal really is to inspire a new generation to care about the animals and encourage them to preserve them. So we think we’re on the right track to do that.”

Écorécréo has been operating for more than 25 years. It runs family-friendly activities around Montreal and has 380 employees. It operates a variety of experiences such as an adventure park in the Old Port of Montreal with a ziplines and obstacle courses.

Duchesneau said Écorécréo embraced the vision that Carbonleo, the developer, has for the $7-billion Royalmount project, which the developer describes as an eco-friendly, innovative living environment. 

“We like what they are developing as well in terms of mixed-use. We’re going to have restaurants close by, other activities and the shops as well. It’s also about the location. It’s truly central in Montreal. You have direct access to the subway so it’s good for the local people but also the people from out of town that are visiting the city and it’s easily accessible from anywhere around Montreal,” he said.

Royalmount (Rendering: Carbonleo)

Royalmount is at the intersection of highways 15 and 40. The mission of Royalmount village is to repair the crumbling infrastructure that has for decades geographically divided the cities and neighbourhoods on the western part of the island from the rest of the city, said Carbonleo. 

“Rooted in today’s realities while answering the needs of tomorrow, Royalmount will have their residents’ well-being at the heart of its mission.

Challenging convention, it will be an inspiring urban cultural hub designed on a human scale. Royalmount will offer the quintessential Montreal experience: a dynamic, diverse culture with restaurants, boutiques, green spaces, hotels, lounge areas and offices, while at the same time embracing the best technological practices for the environment, sustainable development, and green mobility,” it said.

The first phase will consist of an 824,000-square-foot,  two-level retail and lifestyle complex. Included will be a mix of foodservice businesses, major retail brands, and an area dedicated to luxury brands with flagship stores. Some confirmed tenants include Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Gucci, and RH, with others said to be signed but yet to be announced.

The district will also be home to a three-kilometre linear park called Le Champ Libre and an outdoor public piazza.

Michael Stroll

“To create a world class shopping and leisure destination, you need the right environment and multiple attractions that leave customers with lasting memorable experiences and positive emotions. The unveiling of the Aquarium of Montreal at Royalmount marks yet another milestone in our commitment to delighting future Royalmount visitors from Montreal and beyond,” said Michael Stroll, Vice President of Leasing for Carbonleo.

“Our vision for the Montreal Aquarium is to create an unforgettable journey that promotes the health of marine and freshwater environments, while highlighting the importance of providing high quality animal care and carrying out conservation,” said Nicolas Gosselin, General Manager of the Montreal Aquarium. “Our team strives to create an adventure that will transform the way our guests view their relationship with nature. We want to educate the community about aquatic conservation every step of the way, while inspiring future generations to become stewards of our wildlife and wild spaces.”

Yves Lalumière

“The Montreal Aquarium will be an asset for the city, not only as a tourist attraction, but also as a place to learn and meet,” added Yves Lalumière, President and CEO of Tourisme Montréal.

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

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