I admit to being clueless on occasion. I had no idea until this past summer when I hiked into Sunshine Meadows, that there was in fact a ski-in/ski-out lodge at Sunshine Village. I’ve only lived in Calgary for three years so that’s part of my excuse. And the last time I skied at Sunshine was four years ago, on a -25°C day so all I could think about was staying warm. I obviously didn’t bother to take in any of my surroundings.
That all changed last weekend. I had the pleasure of spending a night at Sunshine Mountain Lodge and I can tell you that it is a total treat to be on the mountain overnight. The whole lodge experience actually starts in the parking lot.
John and I didn’t arrive to go skiing until late morning so the main parking lot was close to full – and as a result it’s a bit of a slog, especially with gear to reach the gondola. However, when you stay at the lodge you’re permitted to drive to the hotel check-in area right beside the gondola. You can unload your bags and then park your car just a few minutes’ walk away. This is also where you can pick up a lift ticket so there are no lines to deal with – and as a bonus, there’s a nearby washroom. The hotel staff will have your bags waiting in your room by the end of the ski day. All you have to do is throw on your ski boots and enjoy a day in the mountains.
The Skiing at Sunshine Village
If you’ve never been to Sunshine Village, you should know that you have to first take a gondola to reach the ski resort itself. A bonus to a late morning start is the fact we didn’t wait for one second to get on the gondola – and that turned out to be our experience for the rest of the day.
We skied for about four hours, mostly in the Goat’s Eye area because it was the sunniest spot. The snow was great, the lift lines were non-existent which surprised me considering how many cars were in the parking lot and it was only a few degrees below freezing – balmy compared to my last experience.
Our stay at the Sunshine Mountain Lodge
What a treat it is to close the lifts down and then walk only a short distance to a hotel. There’s no trying to stay awake while driving back to Calgary. There’s no traffic. All you have to do is think about how you’d like to relax.
John and I checked into our room. Located on the third floor, it was large and well-appointed with a king sized bed, a bathroom sporting a big soaker tub and shower as well as little luxuries like cozy bath robes, designer toiletries and a flat screen TV.
As a bonus, the assistant manager had provided us with a half bottle of wine and a cheese tray. (Thank you!!)
That actually derailed us as we were hungry – so the soak in the hot-tub was left until after dinner.
In the outdoor hot tub, the biggest in the Banff area, it was just us, one other group and the stars. There’s also the option of a sauna though we were cooked after 20 – 30 minutes and couldn’t take any more heat.
Dining at Sunshine Mountain Lodge
There are several dining options in the lodge – casual in the Chimney Corner Lounge and Sports Bar and slightly more formal in the Eagle’s Nest Dining Room. John and I were treated to a great dinner in the Eagle’s Nest Dining Room. I can never pass up mushroom ravioli and John had sockeye salmon on a bed of sweet potatoes with edamame.
The next day for breakfast, I dug into a hefty serving of banana bread French toast (fabulous) and he had the pancakes pictured below. The dining room looks out over the mountain so it’s easy to become lazy and enjoy an extra-long breakfast.
Other amenities that made our stay easy were ski lockers and a coffee shop on the main level. There’s also a ski shop though we weren’t really in shopping mode on this short trip.
Overall, it was a total treat to stay overnight on the mountain. There’s something very magical about having the place to yourself once the majority of the skiers have left.
Even if you’re not that into skiing, but your family is, the lodge is still a relaxing place to hang out. And don’t forget, there is the option of doing a snowshoeing tour with a fondue finish.
The lodge is open during ski season and may start opening in the summer of 2015 so check their website to see if that happens. Prices are on the high side UNLESS you have a season’s pass for Sunshine Village, SkiBig3, Sunshine Marmot or a Rocky Mountain Passport – in which case it’s often less than half the regular rate – and a terrific deal. ($320/night versus $120/night with a pass).
A big thank you to Sunshine Village Ski and Snowboard Resort for hosting my stay.