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Kananaskis

Nordic Tradition in Canadian Plaid

By Calli Naish

Tall trees and taller mountains: there couldn’t be a more perfect backdrop for Alberta’s first Nordic Spa. Nestled so comfortably in the Rockies that it seems like it has been there all along, the Kananaskis Nordic Spa combines elements of relaxation with the healing properties of water to create a spa experience unlike any other. The best part? You can stay ALL DAY LONG!

Hot tub with a view

Relax in the Spa Lodge

Founded in the Kneipp tradition of hydrotherapy, the spa features a series of outdoor pools of varying temperatures. You begin in a hot pool, then move to a natural pool slightly above body temperature, followed with a quick dip in the cold plunge pool before doing it all over again. This heat-cool-repeat cycle is designed to stimulate circulation and detox the body. The spa’s laid-back atmosphere, however, means there is nothing keeping you from spending all your time in the hottest tub or lounging in the salt-water float pool.

Hot Pool and Heated Robe Station

Hot Pool 

Cool Plunge Pool 

The spa also features Finnish, Barrel and Banya saunas, heated hammocks, social fire areas, and two steam cabins. The Eucalyptus Steam Cabin will use eucalyptus oils and the Alchemist Steam Cabin will offer a series of aromatherapy oils to compliment the changing seasons. There will also be an exfoliation cabin (not open at the time of this post) where you can rejuvenate your skin through self-exfoliating aromatic salts.

Finnish Sauna 

Barrel Sauna 

The spa is designed to accommodate everyone. Those who thrive on social energy may join in the company of others on the social side of the spa; however, those who are interested in meditative healing may enjoy the waters of the quiet pools or while adrift in the float pool (to be completed this summer).

Comfort in the Spa Lodge

The Spa Lodge has eight treatment rooms (and two couples’ rooms) where you can book a deep tissue, hot stone, or relaxation massage. The lodge is also home to the Spa’s Bistro where you can sip and savour with a view of the mountains.

Champagne in the Spa Lodge

The Relaxation Lodge, which will open in the summer, allows you to pair healing water therapies with mental recovery (which we could all use a little more of). There will be a dream lounge, a meditation labyrinth, heated lounge chairs with personal music stations, and finally, a 30-person yoga studio complete with aerial silk hammocks that yoga enthusiasts will appreciate .

The Spa Lodge and Bistro

The spa sells natural and sustainable beauty products by [comfort zone]. Currently, two lines are available (Skin Regimen and Tranquility), with plans to include more product lines as time goes on. Additionally, [comfort zone] Aromasoul oil blends will be featured within the spa treatment rooms and lodge.

Skin Regimen by [comfort zone]

Tranquility by [comfort zone]

Creating a “hot tub with a view” may have been the original goal for the spa renovation, but the Kananskis Nordic Spa has become so much more. Spa creators, Hank van Weelden and Jennifer Buckler, speak with such passion about their vision for the Knordic Spa that it is clear the project is a labour of love. Every detail has been curated to create an environment of true Canadian hospitality. So forget the typical spa stuffiness and slip into a guest robe designed in Canadian plaid. The tartan represents the four seasons in Canada, and the spa creators hope that you will embrace each of these seasons with equal fervor.

Canadian Plaid Robes

It’s all in the details

Planks made from trees felled at the site

Live edge wood adds to the rustic atmosphere of the spa

Founded on tradition, built of trees felled at its site, and immersed in Rocky Mountain culture, the Kananaskis Nordic Spa is designed to accommodate everyone by providing an atmosphere of collective healing and regeneration. Outside, the pools and buildings blend into the surrounding scenery seamlessly; inside, you are welcomed by the smell of cedar and the calm of a modern, yet rustic, communal space. Plaid robes, mountain air and Nordic knowledge: it is a place of mental and physical recovery enjoyed equally during the cold Canadian winter or in the short mountain summer.

Fireplace in the Spa Lodge

Phase 1 of the Knordic Spa is complete and will be open on weekends with most amenities available.

Phase 2 will be completed this summer.

Best of the Backcountry: Mount Engadine Lodge

The last time I stayed at Mount Engadine Lodge, I was 16 years old and my dad was turning 50. I’d spent years within the same proximity of the Lodge, skiing and training on the Mt. Shark cross-country trail system a few kilometers up the road, but I never had the opportunity to stop in and see the space. During the celebration of my dad’s birthday (to which my parents had invited several close friends), I seem to recall everyone having a really good time. What I remember of my personal time at the Lodge as an unimpressionable 16-year-old is that I slid the family SUV into a snow bank after finally being granted the rights to a learner’s driving permit.

Looking to replace my shameful memory of bad driving, I found myself back at Mount Engadine, 16 years later, 16 years wiser, and ready to create new (but no less impactful) memories.

Everything about Mount Engadine Lodge is welcoming, even the signs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mount Engadine Lodge is located at the bases of Mt. Engadine and Mt. Shark in Spray Lakes Provincial Park. Easily accessible from Calgary and Canmore, and operated by Castleavery Hospitality Ventures Inc., the Lodge is a backcountry dream. It’s a space that reminds me of a deep backcountry lodge: there is no cell phone reception; there are no televisions; and meals are served so that everyone sits together at one big table, family-style. It’s a space that begs you to slow down and to enjoy being. Because of its location in the Provincial Park –one away from major highway traffic and light pollution— Mount Engadine Lodge is a good reminder of what silence sounds like; it’s a rare type of quiet that makes me appreciate being disconnected from my phone and email.

If you *have* to connect to wifi, it is available in public areas. Connecting with the fireplace is a lot more rewarding, though.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unlike a deep backcountry lodge, however, Mount Engadine is open all year and you can access it by car whenever you want. It doesn’t take a helicopter ride or an elaborate five-hour ski to get there. So if you want to bring your luxury bathrobe and a change of clothing for every possible weather event, go ahead and do it.

 

Even when the weather is frightful, the deck at Engadine is delightful. You can also see some of the guest cabins near the main lodge. Photo credit: Sebastian Buzzalino

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you never left your room at Mount Engadine Lodge, no one would blame you (especially because the rooms come with locally-made soap from the Rocky Mountain Soap Company). Photo credit: Sebastian Buzzalino

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like most backcountry lodges, the experience at Engadine is intimate. Accommodating a maximum of nineteen guests each night, the all-inclusive style of the Lodge encourages guests and staff to connect through conversation during meals, which often leads to conversations between meals, too. What begins as small talk about the day’s adventures among guests quickly evolves into praise for Chef Mandy Leighton’s three-course dinner (for your reference, during my stay I was treated to a plated appetizer of elk ribeye, a main course of grilled herbed chicken with mushroom and white wine risotto, and grilled broccolini, and finally earl grey crème brulée for dessert). It’s praise that comes upagain during breakfast, afternoon tea, and when you open your bagged lunch.

Brunch is made better with mimosas. Photo credit: Sebastian Buzzalino

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re an adventurer, Mount Engadine Lodge’s location is perfect for quick access to backcountry skiing terrain, groomed cross-country ski trails, snowshoeing and fat biking trails. There are sets of snowshoes and two fat bikes designated for guest use, so if you don’t have your own equipment or if you want to dip your toes into some outdoor winter fun, the Lodge has you covered. And at the end of the day, no matter what you did (or didn’t do), you’ve earned yourself a seat in the wood-fired sauna.

Skiing in the meadow below Mount Engadine Lodge. Photo credit: Noel Rogers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perfect grooming on the Mount Shark cross-country ski trails

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mount Engadine Lodge really delivers. From the setting to the meals, and from the activities to the accommodations, the new memories that I’ve formed have successfully replaced the shadow of my 16-year-old self, and they encourage me to return to the Lodge as frequently as possible—something that I plan on doing, whether for the night or just for brunch.

For more information on Mount Engadine Lodge (including details on making reservations for Sunday brunch), click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By: Nicky Pacas

Ready to Play

In the spring of 2018, five years after the flood, the rebuilt Kananaskis Country Golf Course will be once again open to the public.

By: Jack Newton

Recently I visited an old friend whom I hadn’t seen in four years. Even though she had been under the weather and had endured a long road to recovery, she looked great and gave me a warm welcome.

My friendship with the Kananaskis Golf Course began at her public debut in 1983. Like most Alberta golfers, I was captivated by the mountain beauty that architect Robert Trent Jones famously called “the best natural setting I’ve ever been given to work with.” After depleting my mulligans and duffing yet another drive, her clear Kananaskis River waters and steadfast Mt Kid views would soothe my high handicap soul.

In June 2013, the Kananaskis Golf Course fell victim to the floods that ravaged southern Alberta. Trees were uprooted, pathways were ripped apart, and fairways were buried under tons of mud. Although the destructive side of Mother Nature was fully revealed, no one guessed that it would take four long years and $18 million dollars before golfers would again ply these Rocky Mountain links.

The picturesque Kananaskis River in September 2018 bears little resemblance to the ranging torrent that destroyed the Kananaskis Country Golf Golf Course during the June 2103 flood.

I was amongst the first to return. As an invitee at the September 19, 2017 Sneak-a-Peek media event, I was privileged to play the Kananaskis Golf Course eight months before its public reopening scheduled for May 2018.

During their pre-game presentation, course general manger, Darren Robinson, and head of golf, Bob Paley, spoke from the heart. “We want this place to again to offer decompression, connection for friends and family, and engagement with nature,” they said. “To have people ride into this golf course in a vehicle other than a dump truck is pretty special. It’s really good to get some hugs.”

Out on the course, the crisp air, sun-bathed peaks, and camaraderie of my fellow golfers (plus a hot turkey sandwich from the new Mount Lorette Snack Shack) contributed to the enjoyment of the day. But most impressive was the course itself.

Calgary golf course architect, Gary Browning, and a legion of landscape contractors were tasked with the rebuild. “They are artists,” Robinson had enthused during his presentation, “the skill set employed to restore this course is humbling.”

During construction, Browning and course operator, Kan-Alta Golf Management, conspired to make a good thing better. “We had a fresh start,” noted Robinson, “so we went hole-by-hole to see what could be improved.”

Championship golf courses of the 1980s such as Kananaskis were built to challenge. “The tougher the better,” suggested Paley at the presentation. But by 2017 the paradigm had shifted; today the objective is to make courses more playable. Indeed, recreational golfers like me want to a play their round in less time, and we’re no longer eager to be beaten up in the process.

So now, the new Kananaskis Golf Course features two extra forward tees. Golfers can choose from six tee box options and play a round from 3800 to 7250 yards. During our game we drove from the third box, positions that were called ‘ladies’ tees’ in less politically correct times.

Fairway bunkers that previously consumed balls of less-skilled practitioners were eliminated or reduced in size. Plus, popular nineteenth hole facilities have been rebuilt so that they are bigger and better. Snack shacks are more elaborate, and the clubhouse patio is twice its former size.

Photo Credit: Steve Baylin

Despite all the money spent and the improvements made, I found the new Kananaskis Golf Course to look and play pretty much as I remember. This is a good thing. The fabulous Robert Trent Jones layout that won so many awards and endeared itself to so many golfers remains intact.

Since the pace of play was faster and I was more easily able to avoid hazards, I concede that my old friend has mellowed a bit with age. But she’s still an enticing beauty with charms to draw me back to her presence.

If You Plan to Play:

-Kananaskis Country Golf Course is taking corporate group bookings now. Call 1-403-591-7070.
-Individuals will be able to book tee times for the 2018 season in March. Call 1-403-591-7070 or visit kananaskisgolf.com.
-The Mount Lorrette course was fully restored by Fall 2017; its 18 holes will be ready to play in May 2018. Nine holes of the Mount Kidd course will open soon after, and by July 2018 all 36 holes will be hosting golfers.

Photo Cred: Steve Baylin

My golfing partners at the September 19, 2017 Sneak a Peek media event were Impact Magazine editor Chris Welner, Calgary Herald columnist David Parker and CBC Radio Homestretch host Doug Dirks. All three are better golfers than me.

 

 

5 Insider Camping Tips

Sep. 9, 2016
By Naomi Witherick

Planning a camping trip in the Canadian Rockies but new to the wilderness? Take some advice from local pro Tom Coker.

Canadian Rockies camping tips

Coker appeared on Woods Canada to compete for the title of “Canada’s Greatest Explorer”. Image by Woods Canada.

The Canmore-based outdoor enthusiast and contestant on this summer’s Woods Canada knows what he’s talking about. As well as his recent appearance on the show, Coker has diploma in outdoors activities. (more…)

Insider Tips: Canadian Rockies Ski Resorts

Jan. 7, 2016
By Where Staff

For Banff National Park ski resorts, read our previous feature.

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Alberta’s Olympic Mountain: Nakiska Ski Area

Between Banff and Calgary, south of Hwy 1 via Hwy 40, this resort was built to host the 1988 Olympics. Beautiful Kananaskis Valley views abound, and Kananaskis Village is only minutes away.

(more…)

4 Top Alpine Club Backcountry Huts

Dec. 14, 2015
By Afton Aikens

If you want to step outside the comfort zone of a hotel but aren’t keen on winter camping, an Alpine Club of Canada (ACC) backcountry hut may be an ideal choice—and a great base for skiing or snowshoeing. The huts vary from century-old log cabins in meadows to bunker-looking dwellings above treeline.

“The Alpine Club has put a lot of resources into them, so they’re well kept,” says the ACC’s Keith Haberl. “The great thing about (staying at a hut) is you don’t have to carry a tent or a stove, and the sleeping pads are there; just bring a sleeping bag and food,” he adds. “Huts open the door to a lot more terrain for a lot more people.”

Hut accommodation is dormitory-style; sleeping quarters, common areas and kitchens are shared with other guests. Huts can be booked up to 30 days in advance (or six months in advance for ACC members—and anyone can become a member). “There’s a high likelihood of meeting like-minded people who have some recreational objective that’s similar,” Haberl says.

Popular huts in winter include:

Photo by Tanya Koob

Photo by Tanya Koob

  • Elk Lakes Cabin, Elk Lakes Park, BC: This is the ACC’s closest hut to Calgary, accessed from
    Peter Lougheed Park in Kananaskis. The trailhead is 62 km south of Hwy 1 on Hwy 40, and it’s
    a 9-km (three to four hours) cross-country ski to the hut; the trail is track set in Peter Lougheed
    Park. Elk Lakes Cabin is a family favourite, with ski touring ranging from easy to advanced.

(more…)

Big Mountain Adventure

Local pros suggest exhilarating winter excursions

Dec. 7, 2015
By Afton Aikens

Eisenhower Tower on Castle Mountain, John Price, Travel Alberta

Eisenhower Tower on Castle Mountain, John Price, Travel Alberta

Massive. Rugged. Incredible. Whatever your interpretation, there’s no denying that the Canadian Rockies leave an impression.

In winter, peaks and valleys draped in snow and ice create a magical outdoor playground that entices adventurers into its wilderness.

For professional climber, paraglider and kayaker Will Gadd, growing up here shaped his identity and sparked a lifetime of legendary exploits.

(more…)

Top Canadian Rockies Rivers to Raft

By Jack Newton & Afton Aikens

Get your feet wet on an aquatic adventure ranging from a white-knuckle ride to a family friendly float.

Photo: Rafting in Jasper

Photo: Rafting in Jasper

(more…)

Family Fun in Bow Valley Provincial Park

By Karen Ung

Bow Valley Provincial Park is the perfect family-friendly mountain destination. With panoramic views and scenic trails, there is fun for all ages. Whether you hike the interpretive trails and do some geocaching, go fishing, have a picnic, bike the Bow Valley bike path or paddle the Kananaskis River, you will have a great day.

Parents of young children will appreciate the short trails with minimal elevation gain, benches along the trails for snack breaks and washrooms at every parking lot.

Over two separate visits we explored five trails in the area and liked them all. Join us on a mini tour of Bow Valley Provincial Park!

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(more…)

5 Alberta Rockies Ski Areas

By Where Staff

For nearly a century, skiers and boarders have flocked to the alpine paradise of the Canadian Rockies’ ski resorts. No wonder. Ours is a land where peaks outnumber people and the ski season is longer than any other in the country.

Photo: Banff Lake Louise Tourism / Paul Zizka Photography

Photo: Banff Lake Louise Tourism / Paul Zizka Photography

The impressive wilderness of Canada’s Mountain Parks (Banff and Jasper national parks, and Kananaskis Provincial Park) boasts an enviable combination of tree lined and open bowl terrain, high-speed lifts and on-hill amenities that summon skiers and boarders from around the world. Local ski enthusiasts dish out insider details to make your visit memorable.

(more…)

Insider’s Guide to Skiing Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper, Kananaksis, Golden & Panorama

Sunshine Village (Photo: Richard Hallman)

Sunshine Village (Photo: Richard Hallman)

Seven ski areas, tons of snow and a November through May ski season. A world-class combination of ski terrain, high-speed lifts and on-hill amenities. No wonder Banff, Jasper and area draws skiers and snowboarders from around the world. Read on for insider ideas to help you make the most of your time on the slopes. (more…)