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Fairmont Hot Springs: Western Canada’s ultimate family ski experience

After undergoing over $11 million in upgrades and renovations over the past three years, Fairmont Hot Springs Resort has quickly become a Canadian winter vacation destination you won’t ever want to leave.

The upgrade included improvements for activities all year round, but a big part of it was improvements to the ski area, such as new ski equipment and the much-anticipated 300-foot Magic Carpet lift.

“Putting the Magic Carpet in is a big deal to us,” said Peter Harding, Fairmont’s ski manager for the past 25 years. The lift is a moving walkway, like those in airports, which can reduce some of the fear that novice skiers and snowboarders have of typical ski lifts or rope tows.

“We’re a very family-friendly mountain—ideal for beginners of all ages—so making the learning experience as fun and as easy as possible, is always at the top of our list,” Harding said.

Also at the top of this list is consistently giving their guests what they came for and more, which is even more clear now with $130,000 spent in snow-making upgrades, enabling them to make 45% more snow than before.

Guests can enjoy the ski hill’s typically sunny, mild-temperature days, AND great snow coverage, making for an amazing ski hill experience. “We’re now able to cover 80 percent of our hill with man-made snow,” said Harding. “So at the end of the day, we’re always able to give our customers a good run.”

Fairmont is also a great hill for the intermediate skier and snowboarder looking to hone and refine their skills, as well as be challenged on the 110 feet of rails in the new terrain park.

The layout of the mountain makes for an easy, stress-free day as all 13 groomed runs funnel to the Chalet. You can let the kids ride the rails while you leisurely swoop, before meeting up for a refueling break by the roaring wood-burning stone fireplaces of the Chalet, in the lively Desperado’s Lounge, or on the large outdoor deck to bask in the sun.

Just two hours north of the U.S./Canadian border, it’s an easy drive to find Fairmont Hot Springs, nestled in the Columbia Valley, between the rugged Purcell Mountains and stunningly beautiful Rockies.

Covering 3,000 acres at the headwaters of the legendary Columbia River, there is endless pristine wilderness to explore, which Nordic skiers, snowshoers and snowmobilers alike take full advantage of—adventure that is sweetened with the knowledge that at the end of the day, the post-adventure, rejuvenating soak in the mineral pools is where you’ll be.

Guests can also enjoy additional activities such as dog sledding, snowshoe fondue, and geocaching in Fairmont’s revamped Eco-Adventures program which offers “40 tours over 4 seasons.”

With Fairmont’s inexpensive rates, just about everything is affordable. Set to open Dec. 18, adult lift tickets, including access to the mineral pools, are just $44. There are numerous resort packages, all designed to give you the best bang for your buck.

One of these is the Family Fun - Kids Stay Free package where for just $338, families stay two nights in Fairmont’s lodge, and receive discounted adult lift passes, and two free youth (18 and younger) lift passes for two days.

Here come the holidays! Wouldn’t it be nice to get away for a Christmas in the mountains? Stay for two nights during Christmas (Dec. 24–Dec.30) for just $164 per night and get an additional night free, plus children 12 and under (2 per room) stay free as well. Enjoy a mountain view room, unlimited use of the swimming pools, steam room, sauna, hot and cold plunge pools, and your own private hot mineral pool. Special Christmas activities will include the annual Torchlight Parade and Fireworks Display on Christmas Eve.

During your stay, when in need of a steaming cup of coffee, a sweet treat, breakfast staples, or the morning paper, a stop at the rustic Brewer’s Poolside Market is in order, where mason jars are filled with goodies of a bygone era, glass bottled milk and farm fresh eggs are in the cooler, and seasonal offerings line the shelves.

Visit the Lobby Shop to check out local art, crafts and high quality clothing from Kootenay Knitting, an official sponsor of the 2010 Olympics, which will call B.C.’s very own Vancouver home come January.

Speaking of Olympics, be sure and catch the spirit, running throughout the region, literally, as the Olympic torch will make its way through the Columbia Valley on Friday, Jan. 22. Festivities at Fairmont have been planned to celebrate the occasion with an Olympics party on Friday, Jan. 22 and “Mini-Olympics” family fun day on Saturday, Jan. 23.

Then the fun continues in February, when the popular 27th Annual Starlight Challenge takes over the mountain every Friday evening, starting at 4 p.m. Races include 4-person teams and individual racers, both skiers & snowboarders.

Never has it been a better, more exciting time to visit British Columbia, and stay at the historical, four-season Fairmont Hot Springs Resort. So pack those skis and head north for a truly rejuvenating vacation!