Tour Operators: For adventure seekers, book a Canadian Mountain Holidays (800-661-0252, www.canadianmountainholidays.com) heli-skiing or heli-hiking excursion in the Canadian Rockies. Rocky Mountaineer Vacations (800-665-7245, http://rockymountaineer.com) and VIA Rail Canada (888-VIA-RAIL, www.viarail.ca) both offer train journeys. Other suppliers offering Canada itineraries include Backroads (800-GO-ACTIVE, www.backroads.com), Bushtracks Expeditions (800-995-8689, www.bushtracks.com) and A&K (800-732-2181, www.abercrombiekent.com).
Cathedral Mountain Lodge
Cathedral Mountain Lodge (www.cathedralmountain.com) and its 29 surrounding luxury log cabins are on the shores of glacier-fed Kicking Horse River amid the tall spruce and pine trees of Yoho National Park near Field, B.C. May 2006 marked the lodge's grand opening. The charmingly decorated handcrafted log cabins—either Riverside or Moun-tain View—have gas or wood-burning stone fireplaces, soaker tubs and private decks with exceptional views. The lodge is quiet and secluded, yet minutes away from attractions such as Lake Louise, Emerald Lake, Moraine Lake, Spiral Tunnels, Takakkaw Falls, Natural Bridge and the Burgess Shale fossil discovery.
Rooms: The best accommodations are in the Premier log cabin, which is furnished with a custom-made queen-size log bed topped with a down duvet. The large sitting area is ap-pointed with charming Canadian antiques. Tall sliding doors lead to the spacious bathroom with a deep soaker tub and upgraded Aveda spa amenities. Riverside cabins have the best views.
Although the property is adult-oriented, catering mostly to couples, Cathedral Mountain Lodge does allow children eight years and older. For families, book one of the five Loft cabins, which are the largest on site, with one queen bed on the main level and two twin beds in the loft. While there aren't any connecting cabins, they do offer Wapta cabins, which have adjacent duplex accommodations. There is a pet-friendly cabin available for an additional fee.
The new main lodge features views from every vantage point, includes a reception area, gourmet dining room with vaulted ceilings and 18-foot windows and a Grand Room with an indoor/outdoor river rock fireplace. Dining: The Restaurant at Cathedral Mountain Lodge is consistently chosen as one of the best small restaurants in Canada and utilizes fresh local ingredients, innovatively presented. The menu focuses on organic and free-range in-season regional cuisine. The extensive wine cellar stocks Canada's finest wines, as well as many excellent selections from both Old and New World vineyards. A complimentary market-fresh breakfast is prepared every morning; a Hiker's Lunch is available upon request; and reservations are recommended for dinner.
Booking details: Peak period for Cathedral Mountain Lodge is July and August, so book at least six months in advance during this time period. All cabins can be booked over the GDS.
For VIPs, agents can contact General Manager Christopher Bates (250-343-6442, [email protected]). For other inquiries, call 250-343-6442 or e-mail [email protected] Ask about the property's various packages, including the "Elope in the Rockies" wedding package, starting at $825 per couple.
Getting there: Most guests fly into Calgary International Airport and rent a car; the drive to the lodge takes about two hours from there. There is an airport in Golden, B.C., which is a 45-minute drive from the lodge. It only accepts small planes. U.S. citizens need a passport to travel to Canada.
Echo Valley Ranch & Spa
Echo Valley Ranch & Spa (www.evranch.com) is a four-and-a-half-star resort near Clinton in the remote and pristine Cariboo region of British Columbia, offering a secluded wilderness setting for clients looking for adventure, or simply to soak in the beauty of their surroundings.
Accommodations include the Dove Lodge, the Look-out Lodge, guest cabins and the luxurious Baan Thai suite. The Hideaway Cabin is perfect for clients celebrating honeymoons, and anniversaries, with a romantic fireplace and an on-deck hot tub.
The Royal Thai Suite has stunning vaulted ceilings, imported teak furnishings, a private courtyard and a full Thai spa just for its guests. The three other guest cabins include separate bedrooms and lofts with en-suite bathrooms. All offer breathtaking sunrise or sunset views. The guest cabins are best for families traveling together.
The ranch has a heated indoor swimming pool, hot tub, sauna, games room and fitness center. Echo Valley's classic spa menu includes a full range of western and Asian spa therapies. These include facials, herbal aroma-therapy, steam baths, hydrotherapy, body wraps, manicures, pedicures and their signature Thai massage. There are nine treatment rooms, including the Baan Thai suite. Contact Spa Director Jaranya Hanoi at 250-459-2386.
Contact Flint Bondurant, activities director, at 250-459-2386 to arrange all guest activities based at the ranch, as well as off-site activities such as flight-seeing, fly-in fly-fishing, river rafting and "sheep-pasture" golf. Regular activities include horseback riding, hiking, on-site fly-fishing, mountain biking, swimming, gold panning and 4x4 safari trips through the Fraser Canyon.
Echo Valley focuses on families with young children during the last two weeks of July and first week of August. In addition to the regular ranch activities, there are children's activities, which include arts and crafts, swimming and scavenger hunts. Nicolle Williamson co-ordinates the children's program; contact her at 800-253-8831.
Echo Valley, which has eight resident dogs, is pet friendly. Guests who bring their dogs can stay in a cabin.
Dining: Echo Valley's Master Chef Kim Madsen prepares gourmet meals in his open kitchen. He offers cooking lessons, as do the Thai staff, who prepare a Thai dinner once a week. Meals are served in a family setting in the Dove Lodge, except for the twice-a-week barbecue nights.
Booking details: Reservations can be made by contacting the reservations office in at 800-253-8831 or 604-862-6196. The ranch's direct line is 250-459-2386; ask for owner Norm Dove.
It is recommended that reservations be made six months in advance, especially for bookings for July through September. The ranch is open for guests from mid-March to the end of October, and can host reunions, weddings, small business retreats and workshops.
Getting there: The lodge is approximately a five-and-a-half hour drive from Vancouver, or clients can fly into Kamloops airport on Air Canada, where they can be picked up. The ranch has a private landing strip for charter planes, and owner Norm Dove can fly guests from Vancouver directly to the ranch. —DB