Story by Katie Marti
CANMORE, ALBERTA — Located an exhilarating one-hour drive from Calgary and four hours from Edmonton, Canmore is often referred to as Alberta’s backyard. Indeed, proximity to the mountain town is a major perk for many a weekend warrior living and working in southern Alberta. With immediate access to provincial and national parks in the world-famous Rocky Mountains, the Canadian dream lives here.
Andrew Shepherd, general manager at Blackstone Mountain Lodge, is proud of Canmore’s status as a preferred destination and loves to see familiar faces return year after year.
“We get a lot of repeat guests,” he says as we walk about the property, “and that’s a very cool thing. Not only does it reduce our need to advertise, it creates a nice sense of community.”
With a focus on quality service and well-trained staff, Blackstone has a keen focus on attention to detail and aims to let the experience speak for itself.
“We take service back to what it used to be,” Shepherd explains. “We try to do the things you would have taken for granted 30 years ago, but may not expect anymore.”
Calgarians Escape to Comforts of Canmore
Case in point: a full-scale Easter egg hunt complete with a visit from the Easter Bunny during the weekend of my visit. Also on hand are board games for families to enjoy in their suites, a communal BBQ space by the pool and knowledgeable front-desk attendants who greet each guest by name. My personal favourite perk: Really sharp, good quality knives in our suite’s kitchen, proving that the smallest of gestures can often leave the greatest impression.
Since taking over the property in 2013, Clique Hotels and Resorts has put a fair bit of energy and capital into Blackstone Lodge, which joins three other sister properties under the direction of company president and Canmore local, Jim Muir. As a condo hotel, Blackstone suites are individually owned, creating an investment opportunity for Calgarians and other Albertans with the added bonus of providing a home away from home when the mood strikes to escape to the mountains.
The fact that many of their guests are also owners gives Blackstone a local vibe uncommon in many hotels. “People stop and say hi, they get together for a beer on one of the patios in town — it’s just a nice place to be,” says Shepherd.
Of course, he and his crew acknowledge that Canmore is a destination primarily because of the natural beauty that abounds, regardless of the comforts found within the walls of Blackstone Lodge.
“Canmore is such a beautiful place, “ Shepherd says with a grin. “When you’re driving in, it’s not uncommon to see people arriving with kayaks, bikes and skis on the car all in the same weekend.”
And it doesn’t stop with Canmore. A mere 15-minute drive to the west will put you in the heart of Banff National Park and another 45 minutes down the road lies incredible Lake Louise. Between capturing breathtaking mountain views and spotting iconic wildlife, however, such a drive can (and should!) take all day.