Have you ever stayed on mountain during a ski vacation? We just spent a few days at Sunshine Mountain Lodge, the only ski in and ski out accommodation in Banff National Park. Meaning: you’re guaranteed to get fresh tracks with a stay here – right in the heart of Sunshine Village Ski Resort. If you love skiing, and are looking for a family-friendly destination, this is most definitely the place for you.
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Sunshine Mountain Lodge
It’s pretty common in winter to get cabin fever. During COVID-times it’s even more likely. Reader, my two night, three day ski-cation took years off my life. Though there was no sea nor sand, our mini break at Sunshine Mountain Lodge felt like a legit holiday.
(But if you’re only heading up for the day, check out this post on how to hack skiing during COVID.)
There’s nothing like sinking back into a fluffy duvet in front of a fire, hot chocolate by your side after a heavy, leg burner morning. Only to shred hard all over again in the afternoon. After a fun room service lunch, of course.
The last time we stayed here, The Huz was first out the door and had a brilliant hour carving through the untouched powder. Then he’d pop back in the room and join us for breakfast. My daughter and I still like to roll out of bed around 8 am, order room service and meandered our way to the lifts shortly after 10 am each morning.
This flexibility is the very best part of staying on the mountain at Sunshine Village. If kids (or adults!) get tired, you can easily whip back to your room for twenty minutes of cartoons and a bit of a warm up before hitting the slopes again.
Their are 84 guest rooms at Sunshine Mountain Lodge offering boutique-style, slope-side accommodation. There are 5 different room styles you can opt for, but I think the nicest are in the West Wing.
These recently renovated rooms come with balconies and have a amazing views of the mountains and ski runs. On the second floor of the West Wing are loft-style rooms, with massive vaulted ceilings and floor to ceiling windows. Parents can get more privacy by staying in the loft, while kids can bunk into the beds on the main level.
Our last room (see pic below) looked right onto the Standish and Strawberry chairlifts. We’d sit in the sun on our balcony enjoying après at the end of the day. Conveniently daughter’s bed was a Murphy bed, so if we wanted more space, we just flipped it back up to the wall.
All the Amenities
One of the benefits of staying at Sunshine Mountain Lodge is their amenities. You’ll want to pack your bathing suit as their massive outdoor hot tub is divine. There’s nothing better than a soothing soak to rejuvenate burned out legs.
Note: Depending on COVID-19 restrictions, the hot tub may be closed.
Need a massage? Verde Day Spa is located on-site, but you need to reserve in advance for your facial or massage. Verde is a legit spa with qualified staff. In fact, it’s my favourite spa in Canmore.
During COVID, we were delighted to discover a house keeping trolling swinging by guest rooms at night to replenish any towels, tea, hot chocolate, etc… Yes, I sure did take extra bath salts!
Sunshine Mountain Restaurants
There’s lots of options for dining when staying at the lodge, but your closest options are Trappers Saloon and the Chimney Corner. We’re partial to the Chimney Corner as it’s located right in the lodge and of course, you can get room service.
Even when restaurants are closed for in-person dining during COVID, it’s still possible to eat in a dining room or cafe at Sunshine. That’s because technically it’s classified as a chalet. This is completely legal and approved by the Alberta Government.
Stay in your room and order room service if you prefer, but those hankering to sit in front of a roaring, wood burning fireplace will want to make a beeline for the Chimney Corner, as it can only serve just under 50 diners. Tables were well spaced apart (I’m guessing at least 20 feet), and after ordering from the bar you pick up your meal. There is currently no tableside service.
Ski hill food isn’t normally something I bleat on about, but something has changed here – for the better. We had incredible meals. Every single one of them. For breakfast, you can’t beat their breakfast burrito. Fresh and light, it was chock full of veggies and came with a massive portion of fruit AND hash browns.
For lunch, we couldn’t even finish the Cuban sandwich between the two of us! For dinner time, I’d order the scallop appetizer again (we did!) and the butternut squash pasta, comprised of jumbo prawns, sun dried tomato and spinach. It’s the kind of pasta I could see being on the menu at Earls.
After a day on the slopes, it’s a rite of passage to enjoy a tipple or two. When considering après ski at Sunshine Village, you’ve got a lot of choices. I’m usually partial to a boozy hot chocolate, but if they happen to be serving up mulled wine, you’ll want to give that a go.
I’m not sure if they still offer it over the holidays, but if they do, order it! This traditional mulled wine mug comes all the way from Europe. Besides the wine, you’ll get a shot glass of liqueur topped with brown sugar cone that’s lit on fire in front of you. Top marks for presentation!
It goes without saying that the Lodge is a fab place for a family getaway. Since you’re up on the hill (transported there via gondola), there’s no traffic to worry about. Ankle biters can rip around the resort safely, giving them the same immense sense of freedom we enjoyed as kids.
Because everyone funnels back to the same place, caregivers are able to turn off their hovering instincts more quickly. They’e got a family room filled with games, fuze ball and Wii. Activities (besides skiing) range from yoga to snowshoeing and tobogganing give non-skiers plenty of options.
Note: Due to COVID-19 restrictions, some amenities may be altered or not on offer. Check before booking.
All too soon, it was time for us to head back to reality. Our suitcases were shuttled down to the base by gondola, and ready for us to pick up at the end of our ski day. I can’t tell you how luxurious it felt to be able to wander from our room, to the runs to the restaurants – that were actually open!
During a time of so much uncertainty, having the certainty of a ski trip – almost just like it used to be, was heartening. Skiing offers a double whammy of fresh air and exercise, and those mental (not to mention physical) health benefits will have you heading home in a more positive frame of mind. Scout’s honour!
SAVE THESE TIPS:
Keep these tips for staying slope-side at Sunshine for future reference. Simply pin the image above or below to Pinterest. I hope you’ll follow Travels with Baggage on Pinterest while you’re at it.
Haven’t been there yet but sounds like a great place to visit for spring skiing and sunshine.