Monday • February 29, 2016
A wellness escape for a day in the heart of the Rockies.
There’s a sense of anticipation as we follow the winding road through the pristine snowy forests of Mt Fernie Provincial Park, the Rocky Mountain summits of the Lizard Range peeking through the trees. I am taking a well-deserved girls retreat for the day with a close friend, away from our busy worlds of work and family life. Pulling up to the Island Lake Lodge meeting area we step out into the crisp, fresh, air, and a feeling of calm envelops us. The only sound is the creak of the trees above and the occasional birdcall, then the low rumble of the snowcat as it appears on the groomed trail to whisk us away.
The lipstick-red snowcats of Island Lake Lodge are a cheerful sight, with welcoming drivers ready to offer a hand over the 2ft high caterpillar tracks into the cosy cab, where we take our prime seats for a ride into the wilderness. Towering Giant West Coast Red Cedars line the trail as we are escorted through the forest watching out for wildlife or waving to Nordic skiers and snowshoers out enjoying the winter wonderland. To say we are excited is an understatement. An opportunity to experience a day of true wellness, tranquility and pampering in one of the most beautiful settings is heaven.
Arriving at the majestic timber chalets of Island Lake Lodge is awe-inspiring, and we are welcomed into the sanctuary of the main lodge with warm smiles to prepare for our day at this spectacular Rocky Mountain retreat. First on the list is exploring the tranquil lake next to the lodge. We gather our Nordic skis and in minutes it’s just the trees, glistening snow, pure silence, and us. We glide along the scenic, groomed Lake Trail, the gentle undulations of the peaceful setting lending a sense of rejuvenation. Our bodies warm up with the smooth motion and we welcome the cool kiss of mountain air on our cheeks. Upon completion of the trail we are famished and eager for a gourmet lunch at the lodge.
At the Tamarack Dining Room our host leads us to a picture-perfect window seat and points out the Three Bears across the valley; the distinguished peaks of the Lizard Range tower above the peaceful setting. The resort is home to renowned Island Lake Catskiing famous for its incredible powder skiing and it is evident from the blanketed trees that regular big snowfalls are plentiful here. The catskiers are all out enjoying epic turns on the surrounding terrain as we enjoy our peaceful lunch. Fresh, BC ingredients make up Chef Farkas’ inspired lunch menu including oceanwise Kuterra salmon and slow braised free-range chicken. After our sublime lunch, we sink into leather chairs by the crackling fire to sip café mocha and watch the talented team at work in the open kitchen.
It is hard not to get too comfortable, but the spa is calling. After a soothing soak in the outdoor hot tub, our professional spa therapists provide a series of pampering treatments starting with a relaxing facial and welcoming massage. We enjoy delicious homemade honeyed-lemon sorbet decorated with hand-made chocolate bears reminiscent of the Island Lake Logo as we relax in the lounge waiting for our pedicures to dry. We agree that next time we will treat our husbands to a romantic version of this escape.
It’s been a memorable day at Island Lake Lodge, equally invigorating, rejuvenating and relaxing. Excited reminiscing give way to moments of silent bliss as we ride back down to our vehicles in the comfort of the snowcat. With a warm farewell and plans to return soon, we part ways much happier and relaxed than before.
Island Lake Lodge's Winter Snowcat Ride & Lunch
Available Thursday thru Sundays during the winter catski season. $69/person includes the catride, gourmet lunch and access to the nordic and snowshoe trails. Reservations a must. Spa treatments are extra and also require advanced booking. Nordic and snowshoe rentals are available for $10 each. Call 250-423-3700 to book. Read more about Island Lake Lodge.
By Jikke Gyorki
Local Destination Expert