Story by Katie Marti
REVELSTOKE, BRITISH COLUMBIA — Ski chalets are, by their very nature, a decadent retreat. When planning an alpine getaway, those who choose private lodge over hotel or even condominium expect a certain degree of indulgence and a handful of special touches, like an outdoor hot tub or a big stone fireplace or a bearskin rug.
Bighorn Lodge in Revelstoke, British Columbia, takes indulgence and special touches to an entirely new level with a private heli-pad and in-house award-winning European chef, and so it came as no surprise when they were named World’s Best Ski Chalet in 2013 at the World Ski Awards. Three storeys of timber-framed amenities pamper and delight in this incredibly well-appointed home-away-from-home. Simultaneously luxurious and cozy, Bighorn blends seamlessly into its surroundings, nestled against the side of Revelstoke Mountain Resort, while setting itself apart with a level of service and attention to detail that’s rarely found.
Leesa Hughes, manager at Bighorn, insists that flexibility is the key to planning the perfect vacation for guests to North America’s first private, full-service ski lodge. She works intimately with each booking to coordinate private flights and shuttles to and from Revelstoke, plan menus, fill the wine cellar with preferred stock, and customize heli-ski packages with local partners. “We try to make everything seamless and peaceful for the guests once they arrive,” Hughes explains, “and make sure the whole house runs like clockwork.”
Bighorn Lodge Delivers On Its Promise
That is no small feat, with seven front-of-house staff to manage and a facility that includes eight guest suites, a cinema, a spa and fitness centre complete with in-house masseuse and exercise pool, two outdoor fireplaces, a private hot tub, formal dining room, executive kitchen and triple-height Great Room for relaxing after a full day of skiing world-class champagne powder in the surrounding Selkirk and Monashee mountains.
Leesa’s husband, executive chef Peter Hughes, has as much to do with the success of Bighorn as anyone else. Menus are carefully crafted to suit the tastes of each group, with canapés served daily and a weekly Chef’s Table dinner served in the custom-designed kitchen. Catering to the personal preferences of Bighorn’s guests doesn’t stop the couple from maintaining a strong focus on locally sourced ingredients. “We try to buy BC first and Canada second,” says Leesa Hughes, “from cheeses to wines to seafood. As much as possible, we aim to support local growers and producers.”
As no après-ski or fine-dining experience is complete without a glass of wine in hand, Bighorn partners with the best wineries in British Columbia. Unsurprisingly to those in the know, Hester Creek and Road 13 out of the Okanagan Valley come out on top. “When we first arrived, we knew we wanted to try to have a BC-only policy in terms of the wine we serve, but we weren’t sure we’d be able to do it,” Leesa Hughes explains. “But the winemakers and owners at these two wineries are very much in touch with what’s going on and make consistently good wines. The new Chardonnay coming out of Hester Creek is truly incredible.”
While the 2013-14 season is in full swing and the lodge is running at just about maximum capacity, Leesa and Peter Hughes are already looking ahead to next year and planning for another round of VIPs.
“We’re starting to get more families interested in coming to stay, and I think that’s great,” Leesa Hughes says. “While Bighorn is obviously very popular among people who want to go heli-skiing, there are lots of other things to do. Revelstoke Mountain Resort has done a really great job of expanding the programs they’ve got for kids and families, with day care and ski lessons and dog sledding. There’s really something for everyone.”
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