For some reason this year, I just don’t have the gusto to venture out into the cold. It’s not that I have the blues, or feel affected by the winter season and dark days as I have in the past. In fact, I’m attacking the year with trip planning, fitness endeavors, online courses, and work-related statistical modeling. But for reasons unknown to me, skiing and snowshoeing have been non-existent. It might have something to do with my muscle/back spasm that put me out of commission in November, but at this point, I think I’m using that as an excuse. Or maybe my Caribbean blood is itching for warm weather. Another excuse? Shrug shrug.
So when it was time to head to Sunshine Village in Banff for a 3-day ski escape, I was excited. I was finally getting out to the mountains after months of avoidance. Would the mountains accept me back after abandoning them for so long?
Well here’s the truth about The Rockies… my friends in my backyard. They are always waiting. The mountains are always there when you need a stirring in your soul that can’t be fulfilled by the daily grind. It seems as though I had somehow misplaced the knowledge that being in the presence of such great peaks refuels me. And now that I’ve had a dose, I refuse to turn my back on them for such a long stretch again.
So what was this escape, exactly? Well, Robbie and I came across an awesome deal on Travelzoo, the budget travel deal site. (If you don’t receive their email newsletter, I highly recommend that you sign up). For $389CAD, we would stay for 2 nights at the Sunshine Mountain Lodge atop the mountain. We were also given 4 lift tickets for 2 days of skiing. Considering a full-day lift ticket is $95 each, it seemed like quite a good deal. Robbie had always wanted to stay at Sunshine Mountain Lodge to have a few days of a ski-in, ski-out hotel experience, so we booked in for a Monday through Wednesday stay.
We pulled up to the check-in area and dropped off our bags, which magically appeared in our room after we had skied for a few hours. We stayed in the older part of the lodge, as an upgrade to the newer West Wing was a bit on the pricey side. We did, however, pay a bit extra for a deluxe room with a balcony and had a view of the resort and ski hills. The room was clean, cozy, and had everything a standard hotel room would have, so we had no complaints. There’s a cafe, Java Lift, at the hotel from where we bought hot chocolate, coffee and pastries, as well as a few dining options. We opted to eat the Chimney Corner Fireside Dining restaurant for breakfast and dinner. I can’t say it’s cheap, but you have to eat somewhere up on the mountain. There’s a hot pool/tub, massage services, a small gym, and ski/snowboard storage lockers. All in all, they offer everything you need for a ski getaway.
And what’s skiing at Sunshine like? Well, it’s awesome. So much snow. Many chair lifts. Many runs. Lots of scenery. Lots of thrills. I always enjoy skiing when I go and always wonder why I don’t go skiing very often. But then I remember: the crowds. I dislike crowds, but skiing during the week instead of on the weekend has made me realize that I will do everything in my power to never ski on a weekend again. There were times when it seemed like we had the hills to ourselves with not a fellow skier or snowboarder in sight. That’s definitely the way to go skiing at Sunshine. Oh, and random: Sunshine has a heated chair lift! Teepee Town LX quad lift has an orange bubble cover to protect you from the wind, and a heated seat so your bum gets all warm when you ascend Lookout Mountain. If there’s a movement to change all chairlifts to heated bubbles, I support this long time and repeatedly.
By day 3, I was feeling a bit antsy. Despite being in such a gorgeous place, I can only do so much skiing at one time. Also, I grew tired of ordering food and was getting a bit stir crazy, as there’s not many places to wander on the mountain at night. (Well, I guess you could, but we chose not to). That said, seeing the outline of snowy Lookout Mountain under moonlight was pretty cool. Too bad the northern lights didn’t make an appearance. When that happens, I hear a stay at Sunshine Mountain Lodge is pretty magical…