Sliding off the chairlift at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and gazing out over snow-capped peaks, plunging valleys, and a seemingly unending expanse of clear blue sky, it only takes one look to see why the Canadian Rockies have long been hailed as a skier's paradise.
This stretch of mountains carves its way through British Columbia and Alberta, Canada's most westerly provinces. Here, hundreds of trails lined with fresh powder make for limitless downhill adventure. And at the end of the day, there are dozens of spas to seek out for a tranquil, après-ski refuge.
If you're contemplating a potential winter vacation, Western Canada is calling. Here are five of our favorite ski and spa destinations in the Canadian Rockies.
Fernie, British Columbia
The slopes: The 142 runs throughout Fernie are blessed with an average of 30 feet of snow every season. Not only will you have your pick of terrain throughout your day on the hill; coming back to the town of Fernie itself after a day shredding powder is equally as awesome. This picturesque spot is fully encircled by the Rocky Mountains and was voted "Coolest Town in North America" by Rolling Stone Magazine.
The spa: Massage? Whirlpool? Yoga? All these and more are possible at the King Fir Spa. Located conveniently close to the ski resort itself, King Fir uses organic ingredients and natural products to give guests the most relaxing and invigorating experience possible. All spa services include the use of their heated outdoor pool and whirlpool, to boot.
Sunshine Village, Alberta.
Sunshine Village, Alberta
The slopes: Sunshine's unique location on the Continental Divide means that this resort gets more snow each year than its neighboring hills. There's terrain here for all levels, but for the more advanced crowd, it's home to the most extreme off-piste skiing in the country. Wild West and Delirium Dive are for true experts only, and you'll be rewarded with a ski experience like no other.
The spa: The Upper Hot Springs are naturally occurring warm pools in Banff. Nestled in the mountains, with 100 percent natural mineral water flowing through them at all times, this place can't be missed. Locals suggest visiting in the morning when it's least busy.
The slopes: The setting of the 1988 Winter Olympics, Nakiska not only holds its Olympic badge as its claim to fame. It's also got convenience to boast. No other mountain is closer to Calgary, Alberta's major city and travel hub. With plenty of variety in its terrain offerings, there are loads of easier runs for beginners to get acquainted with what might just become their new favorite sport.
The spa: The Summit Spa at the Delta Lodge in Kananaskis is the perfect antidote the winter's cold. Refresh and relax in their indoor and outdoor hot tubs, eucalyptus steam room, or dry sauna before a massage or body wrap.
Lake Louise(Noel Hendrickson)
Lake Louise Ski Resort, Alberta
The slopes: It doesn't get more iconically Canadian than Lake Louise Ski Resort. Known for its unrivalled scenery and vast terrain, it's been voted the #1 Ski Resort in Canada for three consecutive years. Gradual slopes, long, winding runs, and chutes are all options here, and come with mind-blowing views of the glaciers, lakes, and forests of Banff National Park.
The spa: The Fairmount Lake Louise is one of Canada's most historic and most famous hotels, situated right on the edge of this renowned lake's sparkling blue waters. As a major luxury hotel, the spa services are top notch, featuring everything from massages to hydrotherapy.
Kicking Horse, British Columbia
The slopes: Kicking Horse is a serious ski hill. Equally known for its excellent powder as well as its steep terrain, it's home to four bowls and 87 inbounds chutes. While 45 percent of the resort is classified as advanced, alongside many trickier runs are parallel trails better suited to beginner and intermediate skiers.
The spa: Cap off your trip with a visit to Winston Lodge, located within the resort itself. This traditionally built, rustic, wood, and stone lodge offers traditional spa amenities, and guests are invited to relax in the sauna or library or have tea by the fireplace before their treatments.
In Western Canada, exhilarating ski and snowboard opportunities combine with world-class spa amenities to give visitors a vacation like none other. Trust us, returning from the chilly ski hill to relax in a natural hot spring or bubbling Jacuzzi is kind of the best thing ever.