Romantic winter wonderland escapes for newlyweds
By Mary Ann Simpkins
Glistening white mountains, frost-coated pine trees and picturesque lodges form a winter wonderland perfect for a honeymoon. Take advantage of all the season has to offer by exploring mountains on skis or toboggans, and cuddling together in front of a roaring log fire while snow silently drifts outside. Consider these outstanding North American destinations for your winter honeymoon.
Nighttime in Mont Tremblant village. Copyright: Tremblant.
Few resorts compete with Mont- Tremblant for quality and quantity of slopeside amenities and activities. According to Ski Magazine readers, this miniature version of Quebec City on the slopes of the Laurentian’s highest mountain (875 metres or 957 yards) was named Eastern North America’s Top Ski Resort. Although known for downhill and cross-country skiing, guests can also explore the mountain in a heated dune buggy or on snowshoes. (One tour concludes with fondue in front of a log cabin’s blazing fire.)
Travel through the surrounding pine forest on horseback, dogsled, snowmobile, or overhead on a zipline.
Après ski, dine at the casino’s excellent seafood restaurant, dance at a club, or just relax in front of the fireplace in your suite at Hotel Quintessence. Overlooking Lac Tremblant, the village’s top hotel captures the atmosphere of a country manor with its natural stone and B.C. fir exterior, wine cellar, library, and casually elegant lakeside suites. Retreat to your room to watch the fire from the deep two-person tub, or while delighting in a couple’s massage. Clagett’s Cabin, a cozy cottage a few steps away from the hotel, is the honeymoon suite. In this secluded haven – original to the property – is a claw-foot tub and queen canopy bed. For even more privacy, choose a treehouse. Insulated wood chalets heated by wood fireplaces and equipped for cooking provide solitude high in the trees within a protected area of the woods.
Hotel Quintessence hotelquintessence.com
Stowe Village against Mount Mansfield. (Stowe Area Association – Yankee Image Inc.)
Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa. (Stoweflake Resort.)
Stowe’s picture-perfect village is the icing on the cake for honeymooners coming to this northern Vermont town. A tall, white church steeple rises above red-brick buildings and low-rise galleries and shops in the classical New England village. Huddled around the base of Vermont’s highest mountain, the 1,339-metre (1,464-yard) Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak at Stowe draws skiers from as far as New York City. Other options include dogsledding, ice fishing, and a self- guided craft beverage trail. While Vermont has more craft breweries per population than any other state, Stowe’s trail also includes a winery, cider mill and distillery producing vodka, rum and bourbon. Maybe that’s why its lively après-ski scene kicks off as early as 2 p.m. on weekends. On a moonlit night, nestle together for a sleigh ride through sparkling snow, or snowshoe to a sugar shack to warm up with mulled wine. With eight kilometres of trails right on the property, you don’t have to go far to cross-country ski or snowshoe at Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa. Unwind in the indoor pool or under the spa’s cascading waterfalls. The Spa Renewal Couples Getaway package offers breakfast and dinner, a tandem massage, chilled champagne with Stoweflake keepsake glasses, a Vermont specialty product basket, afternoon tea, and fireside hors d’oeuvres.
Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa stoweflake.com
Main entrance of Mirror Lake Inn. (Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa)
As host of two winter Olympics and one of three U.S. Olympian training centres, Lake Placid lets you face some of the same exhilarating challenges as the athletes.
Speedsters can tackle Cloudspin on the largest vertical drop east of the Rockies – nearly 1,339 metres (1,464 yards) – on Whiteface Mountain. Canadian racer Ken Reed lost one ski on this run in the first 15 seconds of the 1980 Olympics. Dash down a bobsled run, hugging your partner tight as a professional racer glides the sled through one turn and banks high on the next before reaching the straightaway to go faster than the town’s speed limit. Ride the glass-enclosed elevator up 120 metres (131 yards) to the top of the Olympic Jumping Complex for a heart-stopping look of where jumpers take off. Mirror Lake Inn,
home to the Norwegian Olympic Team during the 1932 games, sits on the waterfront across the lake from the village. Wood-paneled walls, overstuffed couches and antiques give the inn a rustic but stylish charm. Lake Placid’s only AAA Four-Diamond resort has an indoor pool, sauna and spa. The Couples Getaway package pampers honeymooners with champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries, a $75/night credit to be used towards a romantic candlelight dinner, spa service, or at their highly-rated après-ski lounge. Retreat to a room with a four-poster king-size bed and sunroom with views of the lake and the Adirondack Mountains.
Mirror Lake Inn mirrorlakeinn.com
Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. (Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel)
Jagged snow-covered mountains stand stark and beautiful against the clear blue sky surrounding the village of Banff. But it’s outside the town where you’ll find the ultimate romantic destination. Nestled in the mountains, deep in the forest overlooking the Bow River, Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel lives up to its nickname, the Castle of the Rockies. Grey stones topped with turrets, miles of marble floors, wrought-iron chandeliers and stunning great rooms add to the majestic ambiance. Built as an exclusive hideaway for royalty and silent screen movie stars in 1887, the hotel presents so many options within its walls – everything from bowling and soaking in an indoor mineral pool to wine tastings – that you could spend your entire honeymoon inside. But why would you when you could take advantage of such opportunities unique to the Rockies as the Canyon Walk? Wearing ice cleats, revel in winter’s frosty beauty with a trek along the bottom of a canyon, passing falls, and over-suspended catwalks. On snowshoes, discover how to follow the tracks of wolves, learn how owls hunt, and find out how wildlife adapt to the cold. The hotel has its own “Learn to Ski” program. Experienced skiers have a choice of three ski resorts: Sunshine Village, Mount Norquay and Lake Louise Ski Area. A tri-lift pass gives you free transportation to these three rugged mountains with nearly 8,000 acres (3,237 hectares) of ski terrain at an altitude reaching 2,134 metres (2,334 yards).
Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel fairmont.com/banff-springs
Poolside at Four Seasons Resort Whistler. (John Sutton / Four Seasons Resort)
Whistler was named Best Romantic Getaway in The Georgia Straight’s Best of Vancouver awards, and Western North America’s top ski resort, according to Ski Magazine readers. The continent’s largest ski resort, situated between two mammoth side-by-side mountains connected by the world’s longest and highest gondola, boasts abundant sports facilities, fine dining, and luxury accommodation. Slopes descend a vertical 1.5 kilometres (one mile) through lush spruce forests. Even more thrilling is skiing high in the Pacific Coast Mountains’ remote wilderness, navigating terrain punctuated with 173 glaciers. With Whistler Heli-Skiing, you get a professional certified Heli- ski guide, use of an avalanche transceiver and mountain lunch. Test your nerves on the world’s fastest sliding track, a legacy of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Move 201 kilometres/hour (125 miles) down the track on a bobsled or headfirst on a luge at 160 kilometres/hour (99 miles). Shoot an official biathlon rifle on the Olympic range. For a true biathlon experience, cross-country ski sprint between shooting sessions. (Gasping for breath while trying to hit a target the size of a juice bottle is harder than it looks.) Spoil yourselves at Canada’s only AAA Five-Diamond award ski resort. Four Seasons Whistler indulges guests with daily complimentary wine tasting, complimentary s’mores around an outdoor fire pit, and complimentary ski concierge to transport your equipment to the mountains. While sitting on top of a glacier, dine on oysters and crab claws with a helicopter tour. Relax tired muscles with a couple’s spa treatment, dip in the outdoor hot tubs or enjoy the outdoor heated pool. W
Four Seasons Whistler fourseasons.com/whistler