Home Après Why you should visit Fairmont Hot Springs Resort this winter

Why you should visit Fairmont Hot Springs Resort this winter

by Karen Ung

Head to Fairmont Hot Springs Resort this winter for skiing, hot springs, good eats, and more! Besides being home to Canada’s largest natural mineral hot springs, this affordable wellness destination is super family-friendly. Discover all the fun of the snowy season at Fairmont Hot Springs, only 3.5 hours from Calgary in the Columbia Valley.

Disclosure: Fairmont Hot Springs Resort generously hosted us, but all words and opinions are my own.

Fairmont Hot Springs Resort & Ski Area

“Can we go to the big hot springs again, Mom?!” We’ve just returned from the ski hill (5 minutes away) and my kids are bouncing on the bed waving their swimsuits at me. I give them an enthusiastic “YES!” and they run to the loft to change. We could all use a soak after a day on the slopes…. even if we went for one in the morning already.

Our days follow a pattern: breakfast, hot springs, ski, lunch, tube park, dinner, hot springs… and I wouldn’t change a thing. Neither would Brigitte Diem-Guy, Director of Sales and Marketing for Fairmont Hot Springs Resort. “We want you to deconnect, digital detox, ” Diem-Guy says. “You don’t need a phone here because there’s a lot going on.” True to her word, the TV in our room remains off for the duration of our stay and the kids’ iPads never leave their suitcases.

History

While the resort has been here for about 60 years, the healing waters were discovered centuries ago by indigenous peoples. Walk up the hill to see The Indigenous Baths, the original bathhouse, and panoramic view of the Columbia Valley and Purcell Mountains. Here, tubs were hewed out of stone and filled with hot spring water. To give you an idea of how long the hot springs have been in use, explorer David Thompson spent time here back in the fur trade days1! Read about more recent (1900’s) history of the resort at: https://www.fairmonthotsprings.com/hot-springs/history/.

Over the past several decades, generations of visitors have returned to Fairmont Hot Springs. “What’s really beautiful is that we have people come back that say ‘We learned how to swim here and now my grandchild is learning to swim here,'” Diem-Guy shares with a smile.  “We have people that come here maybe once a year [and] meet here and they say ‘We met when we were 10’… You can make memories and friendships that last a lifetime.” The resort is also a popular wedding venue with great views and a wide range of lodging options for families of all sizes.

What’s New at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort?

Fairmont Hot Springs Resort saw some major changes in 2019. For starters, the hot springs pools and change rooms were extensively renovated bringing a fresh look to Canada’s largest natural mineral hot springs. Up at the ski hill, a brand new snow making operation extends the season and ensures consistent conditions. “We can make a ski hill in a shorter window… in 25 to 39 days versus 60 days,” says Chris Veen, Snow School Director, Fairmont Hot Springs Ski Area.

A new culinary management team – comprised of Adrian Beers as Director of Food and Beverage, and Kay Bonsu as Executive Chef – brings new flavors to the resorts’ dining scenes. Their menus are diverse and delicious with Swiss Fondue at the ski hill, and Peruvian-spiced chicken at Antlers Restaurant. I was pleased to see many gluten-free and dairy-free options as well (plus vegan options)!

Whether you are a regular or first-time visitor, you can enjoy Fairmont Hot Springs Resort’s upgrades alongside the friendly atmosphere the resort is known for.

Fairmont Hot Springs

Fairmont Hot Springs has three pools fed by natural mineral hot springs, and all of them offer great views of the Columbia Valley. The soaking pool (39°C /102°F) was my favorite, but the girls spent a lot of time in the 32°C (89°F) swimming pool. When the weather is warmer, you can cool off in the 30°C (86°F) dive pool – if you dare.

Heat from the hot springs naturally heats the deck, so your feet stay warm when you change pools. There is also a small (but pretty) hot pool reserved for resort guests only that is steps from the door if you want to take a quick dip on a chilly day. We enjoyed the guest pool every morning.

While one could argue that all hot springs are relaxing and rejuvenating, Fairmont Hot Springs boasts some unique claims to fame. Most notably, their hot springs are almost odorless thanks to their low sulphur content. Further, all hotel guests get access to the hot springs with their stay, and every Fairmont Hot Springs Ski Area lift ticket includes same-day access to the hot springs! What’s better than hot springs after skiing?

Check out Fairmont Hot Springs hours and rates here.

Fairmont Hot Springs Ski Area & Tube Park

With 12 runs ranging in difficulty from from green to black diamond, two terrain parks, and a tube park, Fairmont Hot Springs Ski Area is fun for all ages. When I ask Chris Veen, Snow School Director, what the biggest advantage of this hill is, he replies “The ease of a family day; all roads lead to Rome (which is the day lodge)… It’s easy to meet up later, and there’s lots of terrain, lots of options.” Three lifts – a chair lift, platter, and magic carpet service the ski area so the lines are never long.

Whether you’re new to skiing or want to advance your skills, the Snow School can help you out. Over the course of our family ski lesson, Veen identifies three main things for us to work on, and gives us some individualized tips as well. I knew I’d developed some bad habits over the past several years, but didn’t know how to fix them, so the lesson was really valuable. “There are 120 kids in our programs, from all over,” Veen tells us. He knows them all, having worked here since 1997 and managed the Ski School since 2008. Throughout the afternoon, kids holler, “Hi Chris!” and tell him they’re racing next week or going to the terrain park.

There’s also a ski and snowboard club that is popular with families. “Team Fairmont started with 11 kids [ten years ago], and now has 65,” Veen shares. It’s a great place for kids to learn and if parents don’t ski or have really young kids that can’t ski all day yet, you can go tubing, or hang out at the resort or hot springs only five minutes away. The ski hill pub is a great place to chill too.

Intermediate and advanced skiers and boarders will enjoy the terrain parks! Kick ‘er Loose Terrain Park, has nine progressive features and an introduction to rails; while Hang ’em High Terrain Park (more advanced) has 20 rails and a jump zone.

When your legs get tired, head to Outlaw Alley Tube Park. The tube park has two lanes and a magic carpet so you don’t have to walk up the hill. If you want a little extra excitement, ask the staff for a spin!

See the Fairmont Hot Springs Ski Area Trail Map & Information here.

More Activities at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

Natural Springs Spa at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort
Natural Springs Spa at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

“Wellness is not just your body, but it’s your mind… so we want you to go outside, we want you to be kids, all of you, including your mom,” Diem-Guy says with a twinkle in her eye.  To this end, many fun and free activities are included in your stay. At the Activity Centre, you can sign up for a guided snowshoe trip (snowshoe rentals and tour included in your stay), or get directions or recommendations for nearby activities and attractions. We were happy to find directions to Lussier Natural Hot Springs (45 minutes away) as I hadn’t been in a really long time. Watch for wildlife as you explore the area! There are tons of elk and bighorn sheep around.

Speaking of wellness, there is also a spa at the resort! Get a massage or facial at Natural Springs Spa, then enjoy the guest-only hot and cold pools, steam room, and sauna. See the complete offering of treatments at Fairmont Hot Springs | Natural Springs Spa.

At the ski hill, there are usually games for the kids to try as well as s’mores at the fire pit near the lodge. My girls loved roasting marshmallows every day.

Lodging at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

We are staying in a beautiful loft suite with a kitchenette and balcony, but there are many more room types to choose from. In addition to “151 rooms in 2 buildings with 21 room types, we have really cool cabins,” Diem-Guy tells us. They’re like mini houses with a full kitchen and bunk beds.” So no matter the size of your group, you can find suitable accommodations at the resort. Besides being close to the hot springs and restaurants, we we were excited to look at the mountains each morning and watch the steam rise from the hot pools.

Book your stay now at https://www.fairmonthotsprings.com/ .

Dining

You can cook your own meals at the resort, or dine at Antlers, Bear’s Paw Bar & Grill, or Steamers (Cafe). Up at the Ski Hill, you can choose from Desperados Eatery or Sundance Cafeteria. “They have Swiss fondue up there [at the ski hill]” Diem-Guy says, so we make plans to try that next time. There’s so much variety, we eat at the resort all weekend. Lucky for us, there’s even a Chinese buffet for Chinese Lunar New Year.

Chef Kay (Bonsu) “redid all the menus [to make them] more healthy and more trendy,” Diem-Guy tells us. Later, at dinner, we get the opportunity to chat with Chef Kay and learned he “fell in love with BC” when he came to Vancouver to cook for the 2010 Olympics. His enthusiasm for cooking is as big as his smile and I’m glad I chose his signature dish: Chef Kay’s Half Chicken. It was so delicious, I ate the whole thing!

In the Area

Lussier Natural Hot Springs is a 45-minute drive from Fairmont Hot Springs Resort. Walk 400 metres to natural hot springs pools beside the Lussier River. There are pit toilets at the top, but no change rooms or lights, so bring a headlamp! Traction devices are recommended for the winter months as the hill gets super slippery. Also, use caution on the drive as the last 5 kilometres are winding with a drop-off and can be icy.

Ski or skate Lake Windermere Whiteway, the longest skating track in the world! For more information, visit https://invermerepanorama.com/nordic-skiing-lake-windermere-whiteway/.

Getting Here

Fairmont Hot Springs Resort is located about 3.5 hours from Calgary / 22 minutes south of Invermere via the Trans-Canada Highway and Highway 93 South. Note that Castle Junction is your last chance to fuel up before you head south on Hwy 93 and there is no cell service for most of the way between Castle Junction and Radium.

Marble Canyon, Kootenay National Park
Marble Canyon, Kootenay National Park

Marble Canyon is a lovely short hike at the halfway point. Snowshoes or microspikes recommended.

We can’t wait to stay at Fairmont Hot Springs again! Our home away from home had everything we needed and with hot springs steps from the door, and skiing and tubing only five minutes away, it’s easy to play outside and unwind.

For More Information

To book your trip or get more information on Fairmont Hot Springs Resort, visit https://www.fairmonthotsprings.com/ .

References

  1. Visit the Indigenous Historical Baths [Web log post]. (2014, August 14). Retrieved from https://www.fairmonthotsprings.com/visit-the-indian-bath-house/ (2020, February 6).
winter fun at fairmont hot springs resort
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