Whether it’s for the weekend (or even better, a long weekend), just a day off, or a long-awaited getaway with a group of friends, a trip to the Rockies is just not complete without a few bites and drinks in front of a fireplace or mountain view.
Banff’s and Lake Louise’s incredible scenery, crisp air and at this time of year, fresh layer of powder attracts outdoor enthusiasts from near and far, for everything from backcountry skiing to dogsledding.
And for those without the tenacity for skiing all day, or those who just want a bigger reward at the end of the run than just chili and beer at the chalet, there’s apres ski—what some might even consider to be the best of hitting the slopes.
While you’re warming up the car, stripping off the boots and the layers, consider melting into a chair in front of the fireplace, with a drink in hand and comforting bites of local mountain cuisine.
Thankfully, whatever the mood you’re in, whether you’re shred-obsessed or just dabbling in outdoor activities, there’s a perfect spot for you to enjoy local and seasonal dishes and brews.
In the heart of Banff, close to all the eclectic shops and bars, you can stop by Buffalo Mountain Lodge and mingle with other apre-skiers in the Sleeping Buffalo lounge over local beers, pizzas and small bites; or get ready for the evening with cocktails and hearty entrees like beef short ribs and lamb shank.
For a true mountain experience, retreat to Deer Lodge, just five minutes from Lake Louise, away from the hustle and bustle of town centre. Its rustic decor complements the tranquility of its surroundings. Wind down with casual fare like flatbreads and burgers at the Caribou Lounge, or indulge in hearty Prairie favourites with wine from an extensive selection in the dining room.
Whichever lodge you choose, you can feel good about their local and seasonal fare. Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts’ philosophy is deeply rooted in principles of sustainability and authenticity. Using local produce and meats at its restaurants, CRMR even has its own 500-acre game ranch just outside of Calgary, where the company raises bison and elk.
Sample CRMR’s quality meats at Buffalo Mountain Lodge and Deer Lodge with their Rocky Mountain charcuterie board, comprised of elk salami, air-dried buffalo, prosciutto, smoked duck breast, wild boar pate, aged Sylvan Star gouda, mustard melons, cranberry relish, olives and pickles.
Plus, you can take advantage of happy hour deals, available at both properties, featuring local Alberta craft beers, glasses of prosecco and Aperol Spritz cocktail for $6 each.
Here's four recognizable Calgarians and how they love to après-ski.
The snowboarder: Seanna Jefferson, X92.9 X Mornings co-host
"Nachos are a staple all the time, but nothing tastes better than a mountain of cheese-smothered, chicken-topped nachos after a great day of riding. Pair that with a side of guacamole and an IPA in an ice-cold pint glass and it’s absolute paradise--especially if you can snag a window seat overlooking the mountains or a seat near the fire in the lodge," says Jefferson.
The skiier: Kim Noseworthy, model and Freq Magazine art director
"My favourite way to après-ski is by hopping in the hot tub once I'm down on the slopes," explains Noseworthy. "It doesn't matter what hotel or lodge I am staying in, a good soak is good for the muscles, but so is a good beer. Alberta has so many great craft options these days, but if I'm craving something a little more potent, I'll opt for a dirty martini by the fire post-hot tub."
The in-betweener: Ryan Massel, media personality and lifestyle blogger at immrfabulous.com
"The best part of après-skiing is heading back to the lodge for some 'toe tingling' hot tubbing with friends! It's a great way to warm up, soothe the sore thighs and catch up on the day's adventure," explains Massel. It's an extra business if the hot tub is outdoors and you're able to enjoy the night sky with its bright stars. After that, hand me a boozy hot chocolate with ample whipped cream in front of a fire and I am a happy guy!"
The après only: Christy Farrell, 101.5 KooL FM morning co-host
"A nice après-ski is the reason why I ski and sometimes choose to forego the actually skiing altogether and just head straight to the après part. Some of my friends think an après-ski should be earned, but I think you deserve it anytime," says Farrell. "The most magical feeling for me is sitting in front of a blazing fire, looking out at the snowy mountains and sipping a big, bold red followed up with a classic Old Fashioned."