– Story by Toby Tannas Photography by Darren Hull
You don’t have to look far beyond a person’s interests and hobbies to get a true sense of who they are. When I sat down to discuss life and business with Luxury Homes Realty broker/owner Michel Tremblay, my first impression was that he is extremely adaptable. When he shared with me his passion for sailing and the particular kind of boat he fancies, the parallels were as clear as blue Caribbean waters.
The Melges 24 is described as a monohull sportsboat, notable for its ability to plane over water in modest wind. Its design is simple and highly tunable.
Michel has continuously re-tuned his career in the sea of real estate while expertly navigating the storms. He’s called 14 cities home to this point—most of the relocations prompted by a love of travel, curiosity about new places and changing market conditions.
“I was part of the group that opened the first Sotheby’s Realty office in Vancouver,” he says. “That was 2005. We grew it to more than 40 offices across the country before the bottom fell out of the market in early 2008.”
Instead of abandoning ship for other ventures, as many realtors did at the time, Michel saw the crash as an opportunity to temporarily unplug. A time to re-charge with his family somewhere he truly felt at home.
“We headed to South Carolina, picked up a 40-foot sailboat out of the box and hit the open water,” he recalls. “We ended up in the Bahamas and that’s where we stayed for the most part. It’s such a beautiful place.”
The better part of a year at sea in the West Indies was rejuvenating. Michel was ready to jump back into the world of real estate but the Vancouver market was not ready for him.
“It hadn’t recovered, but since I was back my company asked me to take on a huge development project in West Kelowna. I came to the Okanagan, I did my pre-sales in a really tough market. The project was never built but I had fallen in love with Kelowna.”
Within two weeks of arriving, Michel purchased a building lot and convinced his wife, who still lived in Vancouver, that the Okanagan was the place to be.
“From Coal Harbour to Kettle Valley,” he chuckles. “We’ve been here since 2010 and we love it.”
With two adult children, the Tremblays are nearly empty nesters these days. They moved from Kettle Valley to a home they designed in McKinley Beach, where Michel and his team market four projects ranging from waterfront lots to single-family homes and duplexes. He also oversees sales on a fifth project, Kestrel Ridge, in Kelowna’s Upper Mission.
“I work seven days a week; it’s hard for me to take a day off,” he admits. “I think that’s just me. I don’t work 12 hours a day, though: the perfect day would be to work with a few clients and then go skiing.”
Skiing. Another hobby that elicits a comparison to Michel’s work ethic.
“I’ve skied since I was a small boy. I coached skiers for years and I still like to help people improve their skills—people who already ski at a high level.”
Whether on the slopes, on the water or in real estate, Michel enjoys using his experience to mentor others.
“I’ve been at this a while. I’ve hired a lot of people and when I’m interviewing I always ask if they play or take part in some kind of sport. I want to see if there’s a competitive spirit in there,” he explains. “Let’s face it, if they work just for the money that’s disappointing; we work for the win too. It’s important.”
Michel believes worldliness fosters success. He offers this advice to young realtors, especially those who are working where they were born and raised.
“You need to get out of town. You have to live, you have to explore and I’m not talking about a week in Mexico. Immerse yourself in a culture, get out of your comfort zone, [such as] somewhere you can’t speak the language. As insanely beautiful as Kelowna is, you need to experience the outside world—when Dr. Henry says we can, of course.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken the wind out of Michel’s travelling sails. He would usually compete in boating races along the US east coast six times a year. He’s also missing Europe, where he once travelled regularly. However, he concedes that if he has to be stuck in one place he’s grateful he chose to drop anchor in the Okanagan.
“My job is to sell the Okanagan lifestyle. When I talk about McKinley Beach, I’m not just a salesperson trying to sell a house. My home is here. I can tell people exactly what it feels like to live at McKinley Beach—I know it’s resort-style living because I live it!”
For now, Michel is content to nest in the valley’s beautiful surroundings. But like his beloved Melges 24, he’s not cut out for life in dry dock. The Okanagan may be home, but Michel Tremblay is already charting the course for his post-pandemic, global adventures.
Find Michel Tremblay at Luxury Homes Realty.