9 Must-Visit Canadian Winter Resorts
Travel from coast to coast, and embrace the cool, crisp winter air with this guide to Canada’s must-visit winter resorts.
1. The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, Lake Louise, Alberta
A UNESCO World Heritage Site in Banff National Park, the beautiful Chateau offers one of Canada’s most photographed natural environments, in addition to opulent lodging and dining.
First opened in 1911, the Chateau was designed as a means of drawing summer tourists to this scenic landscape. Nowadays, the Chateau caters to winter tourists with a variety of activities, including a breathtaking hike to the Johnston Canyon icefalls. There, you’ll strap on ice-cleats and trek into the wilderness to view massive, one-of-a-kind ice pillars formed around frozen waterfalls.
Perhaps the single most impressive aspect of The Fairmont Chateau (aside from its sheer scale and beauty), is its close proximity to stunning Lake Louise, complete with custom-made ice castles and a breathtaking expanse of ice skating opportunity.
(Photo © Fairmont)
2. Viamede, Woodview, Ont.
Just 30 minutes north-east of Peterborough, Viamede’s serene winter beauty and luxurious accommodations make it one of central Ontario’s best kept secrets. Whether you choose to stay in Viamede’s exquisite lodge or cabins, you’ll be amazed by the the cozy and relaxing atmosphere, with optional in-room fireplace and Jacuzzi tubs.
Wake up early to feed wild deer by hand, enjoy a crisp afternoon hike with one of Viamede’s accomplished nature experts, or stop in the lodge for one-of-a-kind interactive experiences with local artisans. To top it all off, Viamede offers a truly unique dining experience: a locally-sourced, seven-course tasting menu, complete with vintage wine pairings.
(Photo by Dan Blackwell)
3. Takhini River Lodge, Whitehorse, Yukon
Located 40 kilometres north of the Yukon’s frigid capital, Takhini River Lodge offers a luxurious, intimate experience for those hoping to gaze upon the majestic northern lights. Featuring four gorgeous theme rooms, every aspect of Takhini drips with authenticity, from the locally made, hand-carved bed frames, to the vaulted pine ceilings, goose down duvets, and in-room skylights.
If you really feel like splurging, try the four-night Yukon Winter Excellence package, which features airport pickup, a dog sledding daytrip, and two-day excursion via skiplane to the remote Tagish Wilderness Lodge (complete with log cabin and ice fishing).
(Photo © Takhini River Lodge)
4. Blue Mountain Resort, Collingwood, Ont.
Widely regarded as southern Ontario’s winter playground, Blue Mountain Resort carves a name for itself though a plethora of accommodations, ski hills and winter activities.
Choose from a variety of inns, including slope-side rooms, mountain homes and resort condominiums, then hit the 36 ski trails (22 of which are open at night) or freestyle snowboard park. When you’re done on the slopes, tour the bustling Village, where you’ll find a spa, restaurants, shops and a selection of trendy bars.
Not sold yet? A wide array of winter activities, including fireworks shows, scavenger hunts for the kids and after-hours parties for the grownups will heat up even the coldest weekend warrior.
(Photo © Blue Mountain Resort)
5. The Wickaninnish Inn, Tofino, B.C.
Offering 75 rooms and suites, many of which feature breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, The Wickaninnish carries with it an eco-friendly ethos felt in every aspect of its design. From the Canopy Suites’ floor-to-ceiling windows, individual balconies and, you guessed it, canopy beds, to the Premier Rooms’ panoramic view of the Pacific, you’ll never feel out of touch with your surroundings.
Wickaninnish’s Pointe Restaurant won’t disappoint foodies either, with an award-winning, farm-to-table Pacific cuisine menu, critically acclaimed wine list and a marvelous dessert menu that changes with the seasons.
When you’re done dining, head to the resort’s Ancient Cedars Spa, stroll along Tofino beach, take a hike in the nearby rainforest, or stop at the Wickaninnish Carving Shed, where you’ll witness local artisans practicing their tradecraft.
(Photo © The Wickaninnish Inn/Ivan Hunter)
6. Mont Tremblant Ski Resort, Mont Tremblant, Que.
Nestled in Quebec’s Laurentian Mountains, and mere hours away from both Montreal and Ottawa, Mont Tremblant is a world-renowned skier’s paradise. With 654 acres of slopes and 95 trails, any powder hound should be satisfied by Mont Tremblant’s snowy offerings.
But many patrons would argue it’s the selections that make Tremblant so unique: luxurious suites, villas and other deluxe accommodations ensure you’ll never have trouble finding a great room, while the Village packs dozens of fine-dining restaurants, bars, night clubs and even a microbrewery. If flying down a hill on two planks of wood isn’t risky enough, then hitch a ride on a gondola up to the Casino de Mont Tremblant and try your hand at the tables.
(Photo by Thinkstock)
7. Elk Ridge Resort, Waskesiu, Sask.
Located just an hour from Prince Albert, Elk Ridge’s selection of personal cabins, townhouses and a boreal forest inspired lodge ooze pure Canadiana.
Good old fashioned Canadian entertainment is abound, with 400 kilometres of cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling trails, in addition to a curling rink and skating and ice hockey pond.
Whether you chose to spend your evenings stargazing under the northern lights, or simply curled up by the fireplace, Elk Ridge is both couple and family friendly, and truly caters to those seeking to get in touch with their wilderness roots.
(Photo © Elk Ridge Resort)
8. Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort, Ainsworth Hot Springs, B.C.
While lounging by the pool might not be your idea of a great winter resort experience, Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort may change your mind.
Relaxation is the name of the game here, thanks to the Ainsworth’s steamy hot springs cave system and an outdoor hot springs pool, both of which offer warm, crystal-clear mineral water bathing, regardless of the temperature outside. Deluxe rooms provide a scenic view of Kootenay Lake and the Purcell Mountains, while the Springs Dining Room features a delectable winter menu using locally sourced ingredients.
(Photo © Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort)
9. Nita Lake Lodge, Whistler, B.C.
Named to the Top 25 Hotels in Canada by TripAdvisor, Nita Lake Lodge rests at the base of Whistler Mountain, and provides much more than easy access to one of the world’s premiere skiing hotspots. Do things on the cheap in the Studio Suite (complete with basalt fireplace, double soaker bathtub and picturesque forest view), or go all-out with the Rainforest Suite and its private, full-sized dining room, four-poster bed and personal elevator. Either way, you’re guaranteed to enjoy your downtime from the slopes, with exquisite farm-to-table three course dining at Nita’s Aura restaurant, and a plethora of massage and organic facial options at the spa and wellness centre.
(Photo © Nita Lake Lodge)