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Road Trip Through The Rockies

Here’s a quick guide of where to eat, sleep and play during your road trip through the Canadian Rockies mountain range…
 
By Steven Bereznai
 
Jasper Pride is a great excuse to get the full winter Alberta experience. You can rent a car at the Calgary airport; from there, it’s an easy one-hour drive west to the Rocky Mountain town of Canmore, nearby Banff and Lake Louise. After that, enjoy three hours of the gorgeous Icefield Parkway en route to Jasper (see The Hills Are Alive…With Jasper Pride). Just make sure your vehicle is equipped with snow tires during the winter months. From Jasper, fly out from Edmonton after some urban fun. Here’s a quick guide of where to eat, sleep and play along the way:
 
Canmore
 
Eat: My favourite Canmore dining experiences were at the Paintbox Lodge, where I stayed. On the first night, I attended the Spanish cooking demo in the lodge’s Miele kitchen, and had way too much paella and spiced hot chocolate. In the morning, Paintbox co-owner and World Cup champion Thomas Grandi made me an amazing cappuccino, as well as preparing a spread of fresh frittatas, plus homemade yogurt, granola and kombucha.
 
Sleep: The Paintbox Lodge is an intimate boutique hotel, where some guests feel comfortable enough to go to breakfast in their PJs. Exposed timber and slate floors abound. Grandi says he and his wife, Olympic ski champion Sara Renner, wanted the kind of “pension feel” of hotels they’d found in Europe.
 
Play: A one-hour cross-country ski lesson at the Canmore Nordic Centre had me skiing like a pro, followed by an afternoon helicopter ride to snowshoe at the top of a mountain. Amid the snowy peaks, there was even a marriage proposal. They got champagne. We later joked, “What an awkward flight down if the answer had been no.”
 
Banff
 
Eat: For locally sourced beef and seafood—and a full belly—indulge at 1888 Chop House at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. To really impress a date, ask the waiter to roll over the champagne cart. For a great burger, in an upper-scale atmosphere, check out Chimney Corner for lunch.
 
Sleep: The Fairmont’s mountain-view rooms made waking up every morning a magical experience. Known as the Castle in the Mountains, the hotel gives off a vibe of Royals meet Hogwarts (complete with resident ghosts). The spa is legendary, with multiple soaker pools at different temperatures, and indoor/outdoor hot tubs.
 
Play: For skiing, many people pass on nearby Norquay in favour of the larger, and more varied, Sunshine Village (about 20 minutes away), where it’s possible to ski in two provinces on a single run. A one-hour lesson got me off of my usual blue squares onto the occasional “baby” black diamond.
 
I also did a day trip to Lake Louise, about 45 minutes away from Banff (it can also be an overnighter en route to Jasper). The Lake Louise Ski resort has been described as “a leg burner” because of its long runs. It also hosts a slew of competitions—a bonus for advanced skiers—with lots of off-course options.
 
Back in Banff, a few of us reserved a lane for “pins, pints and pizza” at High Rollers bowling and beer hall. It has 48 craft beers on tap.
 
Edmonton
 
Eat: The Little Brick is a lovely café in a refurbished 1903 brick home, nestled in a subdivision in the river valley. When I parked there were three police cars outside, making me worry. Turns out they were there to enjoy the amazing coffee. The coconut/almond milk rice pudding was delicious.
 
Sleep: For your downtown haven, the Matrix Hotel is a mix of sleek sophistication with the warmth of natural materials. Your bill will include buffet breakfast, WiFi and parking.
 
Play: Check out an Oilers hockey game on their home turf. From the street, the new Rogers Place arena looks like a giant, metallic sperm spaceship. The interior is sleek and minimalist white, with interesting touches (like the wall art that looks like a hockey player samurai). The Oilers were the first team in the NHL to use rainbow hockey stick tape in support of LGBTQ athletes.

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