Canada is calling Ladies! Pack in Three and A Half Perfect Winter Days at Banff Sunshine; Lake Louise and Mt. Norquay
Upon arrival into Alberta’s Calgary International Airport, take an easy, 90-minute, mountain-pass-free drive to Banff for an overnight at Canada’s “Castle in the Rockies,” the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel. This stunning landmark, is known as an experience unto itself. Settle in, explore the famous luxury property and then take a short stroll into the Town of Banff.
There you can grab a bite and a beverage at local favorite Park Distillery. Park – as in Banff National Park – takes campfire-style cooking to new heights. Inspired by active adventures in the park (and the appetite of those enjoying said adventures), Park Distillery serves up hearty helpings of wood-fired, spit-roasted and smoky-savory fare, accompanied by spirits distilled in-house. Full and happy, head back to the “castle” for a good night’s rest, you’ll need it for your adventure ahead.
Mt. Norquay –The oldest ski resort in the Canadian Rockies is located just five minutes from Banff and is known as the training ground for many of Canada’s winter Olympic and World Cup athletes, including Olympians Jan Hudec and Thomas Grandi. That said, it’s also a favorite of local skiers, riders and snow tubers.
Beginner skiers and riders should take advantage of Alberta’s longest-running mountain snow school program and Mt. Norquay’s forgiving beginner terrain. Intermediates should head straight to the high-speed Mystic chair for a variety of rolling terrain with pristine groomers. Experts can find their personal powder stash off the original North American chairlift. Installed in 1949, this was the first chairlift in the Canadian Rockies and the second in Canada. The lift accesses expert-only terrain, including multiple trails that afford legendary views of the Town of Banff and the iconic Mt. Rundle. While there, don’t miss the Lone Pine trail. This local favorite and a must-ski/ride run was recognized for many years as having the longest vertical pitch at any ski resort in North America.
In the afternoon, take a lunch break from the slopes and enjoy a memorable meal at the iconic Cliffhouse Bistro. This exquisitely refurbished 1950s teahouse makes for an idyllic escape thanks to unrivaled views and inspired cuisine.
Don’t want the ski day to end? Stick around for night skiing at Mt. Norquay – the only resort to offer an on-mountain “after hours” experience, which includes a terrain park (open Fridays and Saturdays from January through March). Mt. Norquay is also home to the largest tubing park in the Canadian Rockies (open daily and open late on Friday and Saturday nights).
To top off this on-mountain adventure, end the day with a toast (and hearty nibbles) at Banff Ave Brewing Co. If you have the energy, skip down the street to High Rollers and keep the good timing rolling with bowling, brews and old school arcade games.
Amble your body back to the castle and indulge in another luxurious night’s rest.
Banff Sunshine – Depart Fairmont Banff Springs on the early side for the scenic 25-min. drive to Banff Sunshine Village. Upon arrival, drop your bags with the valet for transport to your on-mountain accommodations and grab a latte at Java Station in the arrival lodge. Then, step onto the famous Sunshine gondola for transport to the upper village and prepare to be awed.
Sunshine Village sits high on the Continental Divide, and three sprawling mountains provide breathtaking sightlines uninterrupted by typical signs of civilization beyond the resort boundaries. When it comes to hitting the slopes, beginners cruise Meadow Park off the Wawa chairlift or Larch Glade from the Jack Rabbit chairlift. Intermediates, take the Continental Divide Express chairlift to Lookout Mountain and ski in two provinces – Alberta and British Columbia – in one run. Expert skiers and riders come from far and wide for the country’s most extreme off-piste terrain at Wild West and Delirium Dive. For advanced skiers and riders only, these areas require avalanche beacons, shovels, probe poles and a willing adventure buddy. Another don’t-miss for intermediates and experts: Sunshine’s heated Teepee Town LX chairlift. The first heated chairlift in Canada, the Teepee Town LX lift serves intermediate terrain with access to black and double-black diamond trails, including the popular Tee Pee Chutes.
After another full morning, stop for lunch at Mad Trapper’s Saloon where the walls are lined with photos and artifacts from bygone eras, and house specialties include smoked meats and southwestern dishes.
Spend the afternoon back on the slopes, or explore the natural beauty of Banff National Park with a snowshoe tour through Sunshine Meadows, the only snowshoe tour at an alpine elevation. If your legs are feeling tired at the end of the ski day, hop on the gondola for a glimpse of the breathtaking 200-ft. frozen waterfall on Bourgeau Mountain. Follow the fun with an indulgent dinner at the Eagle’s Nest Dining Room at Sunshine Mountain Lodge, one of the only restaurants of its caliber at high elevation. Linger as long as you like and then tuck in at the Sunshine Mountain Lodge, Banff National Park’s only slope-side, ski-in, ski-out property.
Wake early for first tracks – a perk with your Sunshine Mountain Lodge stay – and enjoy one final run down “Banff Ave.,” Banff Sunshine’s village-to-base ski-out. Depart for the final stop on your Canadian mountain adventure: Lake Louise.
Lake Louise – Arrive at Lake Louise Ski Resort after a smooth 45 min. drive from Banff Sunshine. Here, you can ski or ride like a local with the help of a free guided tour from the resort’s Ski Friend hosts or a SkiBig3 Private Adventure Guide. With over 4,200 acres of terrain, getting “lost” is always something to look forward to – especially in Lake Louise’s new 420-acre West Bowl. The new expansion area features ungroomed freeride terrain for intermediate and advanced riders and true adventurers.
Don’t let the miles of groomers or the heart-pumping steeps derail plans for lunch at Whitehorn Bistro. This boutique restaurant, perched on-mountain at 6,700 ft., takes full advantage of jaw-dropping views of the famous Lake Louise while serving up a thoughtful menu of seasonally inspired ingredients. With crafted cocktails featuring local spirits and 25 craft beers on draft, “in the know” is the vibe at this beloved on-mountain bistro.
Explore the back and far side mountain slopes in the afternoon and stop for a little deck time on the Temple Lodge patio. At the end of the day, head back to the main base lodge – the Lodge of Ten Peaks – for a well-deserved après ski pint and nachos at the PowderKeg Lounge or sushi at Kuma Yama, a fresh taste of Japan in the heart of Banff National Park. We recommend one of the custom Maki rolls inspired and named after classic runs and terrain found at the resort.
Find your way to the luxurious Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, nestled on the shores of THE Lake Louise, framed by soaring mountain peaks and the iconic Victoria Glacier. Wrap up a perfect day with a pre-dinner skate on the lake or soothe tired muscles with a treatment at the Chateau’s spa. Dine at the Walliser Stube on traditional Swiss fondue for a truly international culinary experience. Cap the evening at the elegant, art-deco inspired Fairview Bar with a one-of-a-kind cocktail creation.
On your final day, spend a leisurely morning noshing on a hearty, Canadian-inspired breakfast at the Fairmont’s Poppy Brasserie and then explore the activity options offered at the Chateau. Choose from cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, fitness and wellness classes, or a treatment at the spa before setting out for Calgary.
Enjoy the spectacular scenery on the drive back to Calgary International Airport. We bet you will want to make a return trip so start plotting a return adventure before take-off.
You can book with confidence this season:
Understanding flexibility is crucial right now, SkiBig3 offers a No Questions Asked Cancellation Policy, allowing for free itinerary changes and cancellations until three days prior to arrival.
Updated International Travel Requirements for Canada:
As of Jan. 15, 2022, American citizens and permanent residents of the U.S. who are fully vaccinated can enter Canada for discretionary travel. Additional pre-entry testing and ArriveCAN requirements may include: Pre-entry COVID testing; ArriveCAN receipt; proof of vaccination and travel document (e.g. passport) uploaded into ArriveCAN; a quarantine plan in case of positive results; and advance registration for arrival testing. Travelers who provide a positive COVID-19 molecular pre-entry test result, conducted at least 15 and no more than 180 days before their scheduled flight or arrival at the land border crossing, are exempt from arrival testing.
As of Dec. 6, 2021, air travelers to the U.S. are required to show documentation of a negative viral test result taken within one day of the flight’s departure to the U.S. before boarding (or documented recovery from COVID-19). A testing center opened in Banff this winter, making return travel to the U.S. even easier.
Visit Canada’s travel, testing and borders page for the latest details and policy updates.
Canada will steal your heart and blow your mind. Women of all ages will love this getaway with friends, family or a solo expedition. We hope we got your travel juices flowing.
~ Holly GoSpritely
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