Banff's only ski-in/ski-out accommodation: Sunshine Mountain Lodge.
Photo courtesy of Josh Robertson
SUNSHINE VILLAGE, AB – Every night before I go to sleep, I make sure to set my alarm for the following morning. Obsessive to the point of near neurosis, my pre-bed ritual is as constant as gravity. Tardiness is just about the most frustrating thing on Earth for me, especially when it means missing the first lift when it's puking snow. Fortunately, this will never be an issue at Sunshine Mountain Lodge.
Nestled high in the Canadian Rockies, this boutique hotel delivers luxurious accommodations, breathtaking scenery, amazing powder, and enough sun to wake you up well before the lifts start turning.
"When the sun comes up, it's everything you can do not to get out of bed," said Bill Cutt, the general manager of Sunshine Mountain Lodge. "We put fancy alarm clocks in the rooms and no one uses them. The sun wakes them up anyway."
Stepping out of your doorstep has never felt this good. As Banff's only ski-in/ski-out accommodation, this is the one opportunity you have to wake up to 7,200 ft of powdery goodness. And that's at the bottom of the lifts.
"It's the most unique property I've ever been at. The hotel sits at 7,200 ft, and we're 5 km from the base where you park your car. The gondola runs 20 minutes, Saturday through Thursday until 5:30 p.m., and Friday it stays open until 10:30. But once the gondola closes, the mountain's like an island. It's very exclusive up here. There's no noise, no light pollution ... our starry skies are absolutely unbelievable."
Catering to the destination skier and rider, what Sunshine Mountain Lodge does is create a unique stay with great accommodations, skiing, and guest activities.
Home to one of Canada's largest outdoor hot pools (it sits 40 comfortably), the Lodge also has a co-ed dry sauna, wireless internet, complimentary ski lockers, and spa services (hot stone massage, aromatherapy massage, deep tissue massage, relaxation massage, manicure treatments and/or pedicure treatments). But what keeps people entertained after dark is the activities.
"We do a different activity every night. We do an indoor activity and an outdoor activity. We'll organize tobogganning, snowshoe tours, heritage talks, wildlife information talks, we play boards games, trivia, bingo, you name it. All that fun, corny family stuff that everyone really loves. Our concierge also offers yoga classes, and we have a Wii now for the kids (Bill just bought the new Shaun White game)."
But even with all the amenities and games, what Sunshine Mountain Lodge does best is snow. Believe me. This was my first opportunity to experience that legendary Sunshine pow, and it delivered.
Sunshine has super, super dry snow. I noticed very quickly that every time I sat down at the hotel, someone brought me a glass of water. Take a seat, get some water. Order a beer, get some water. The reason for the water, and the amazing snow, is Sunshine's humidity.
With a host of activities, Sunshine Mountain Lodge is a terrific space for a family vacation.
Photo courtesy of Josh Robertson
"The humidity is less than 30% up here. People are used to 50-60% in Alberta, and in Vancouver is close to 100%. Because of that, we have unbelievably dry snow right to the end of May. You won't see a snowman here until April, because the snow doesn't roll."
This combination of accommodations, skiing, and guest engagement is the reason why Sunshine's fan base continues to grow every year. Their brand loyalty is second to none, testament to the quality of the hotel, the courtesy of the staff, and this world-class mountain.
"We have people who are staying with us who've been coming here as a family for 45 years. They're coming back for Christmas with 3 generations. They're raving fans of sunshine, which is the key statement in our mission."
At 45 years old, the Sunshine Mountain Lodge is only getting better. New additions come along every year (such as a brand new wing last season), and customer comments and concerns are of the utmost importance.
"Those comment cards and the other cool stuff the marketing guys get to do are invaluable to us, and we put a lot of emphasis on it. We want to make sure our customers keep coming back to Sunshine, and the only way to do that is to keep making it better,"
From the looks of it, they'll never top trying.
For more information on Sunshine Village or to book your ski, snowboard, or winter getaway to Banff, Sunshine Village, or Lake Louise, check out Banff Tourism’s “Ski the Rockies” website by clicking here
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