If you’re a skier or snowboarder, chances are you also excel at après ski. I myself am a Double Black Diamond après, and have the boozy fireside tales to prove it. On Friday, Whitefish Mountain Resort in Montana came to Calgary to introduce a new excuse to party in the name of winter sport: Avant Ski.
The crowning jewels of Whitefish Montana are the ski resort and the lake. If you can tear yourself away from the view… … and turn to the Lodge at Whitefish Lake, you’ll see another. On the far right. Middle floor.Occupying a generous southwest corner (I admit I didn’t fact-check that geographic designation, I’m just going on the sunsets witnessed from these windows) Room 236 has to be one of the best rooms at the Lodge at Whitefish Lake.Not that I saw any other rooms. This vista left me totally biased. I kept meaning to try the hot tub, peaking through the slats in this pic, but the giant oval tub in the bathroom was just as inviting.After feasting my eyes on the scenery, the full-size kitchen had every appliance necessary for a stomach-stuffing feast. Including that dual-temperature-zone wine fridge. I left some dishes in the sink, purely to prove that this isn’t a promo pic. Nothing to do with my slide toward the slovenly.Room 236 is about three times the size of my old apartment in New York. It’s a little dark in the photo, but the fireplace on the far wall brought the temperature to toasty even faster than the thermostat.Did I mention that this is just one of the balconies?The other one is off the bedroom. That’s right, Room 236 is a full-size apartment.And just in case you’re feeling lonely, a teddy bear is provided along with the fresh linens.
Still to come: the restaurant and lounge combo that can’t be missed.
Arriving for opening day at Whitefish Mountain Resort in style. Even though Saturday, December 7 ended up being so unusually cold that officials were threatening to close the main chair to the summit for safety reasons, ski bunnies and boarders came out in droves. And when the Lodge at Whitefish Lake’s complimentary chauffeur whisks you door to door, it takes the sting out of a wind chill warning.Turns out Chair 1, aka the Big Mountain Express, was open for business. That’s Chair 5, frozen in time. But those cold temps made for a bluebird day!Whitefish Mountain Resort used to be Big Mountain. But in 2007, the CEO got tired of a generic name for a hill that wasn’t easily associated with its location and decided to copy the name of the historic railroad town just 15 minutes away. Even before the resort was founded in 1947, its name was a moving target. After the first cabin was built by Whitefish volunteers in 1935 in the headwaters of Hell Roaring Creek, Whitefish skiers with a thirst for speed formed The Hell Roaring Ski Club. A moniker with moxie — but they changed it to the Whitefish Lake Ski Club to placate townspeople who weren’t fans of Hell. And let’s not even mention Haskill Mountain.At the Summit House (elevation 6817 feet) suds-sipping snowboarders enjoy a crystal clear view of Glacier National Park.I wasn’t tired at all on my first day riding this season — I was merely pausing to appreciate the view of Whitefish Lake. As a fierce proponent of fairweather riding, it was my first time ever wearing a face mask. I bought a cute black and pink one from Stumptown Snowboards on Central Avenue so I can wear it into a 7 Eleven. Kidding! In Alberta you can wear a face mask at any gas station and no one thinks a robbery is in progress. Because it is often that cold. But I digress. You may have noticed,I had the courtesy to pull down my mask to expose my teeth for the photo. But only the top row.Apres the day on the mountain, the lobby at the Lodge led straight to…… the Boat Club Lounge. Where, Canadians will be pleased to learn, they make a mean Caesar. That, my American friends, is similar to a Bloody Mary, except it’s made with Clamato juice. I know, sounds gross, but it’s soooo good.If you want to take your Apres outside, the hot tub provides a wonderful view of Whitefish Mountain Resort for the war stories.Up next: the best room at the Lodge and another fantastic night in the Fish. Do they call it that? Umm, actually, no… I don’t think so. I rescind that statement. But check back soon — Blue Besos is in Whitefish all week!
Driving into Whitefish, Montana in December is like driving into a ski town postcard from the Seventies, as long as you substitute cowboy hats for toques and save the melted fromage for cheeseburgers instead of fondue.Nestled in the Northern Montana Rockies just 25 miles from Glacier National Park, Whitefish is a destination that keeps adrenalin junkies sated year-round. But even if you don’t come to Whitefish for an Official Activity, you could happily while away the hours in the town center, brimming with independently owned shops, untouched by McDonalds, Starbucks or Walmart. This particular weekend, the weather is more winter than wonderland, so window-shopping isn’t the most comfortable option……unless you have a natural fur coat, like this guy loitering on Central Avenue in front of Montana Coffee Traders. He’s onto something, though, because a mocha stop here will help you power through any weather. And the warmth of Whitefish residents melts away any remaining frosty residue.The view is a constant reminder of why we drove six hours from Calgary to be here (the winter roads added an hour to the travel time, but the border was a breeze). Look at those untouched runs on Big Mountain. Tomorrow is the opening day of the season at Whitefish Mountain Resort.Even from the less scenic side, the Lodge at Whitefish Lake looks good. And so does the hotel’s white Suburban, which comes in handy for chauffeur-driven 3-minute jaunts to town and 10-minute drives to the hill.Inside, the lobby of the Lodge is like Christmas morning — if your Christmas morning includes a 99 room waterfront mansion. Still, it feels homey… probably because the Lodge is owned and operated by a fourth generation Montana family, the Averills.Sculptures and paintings don’t detract from the cozy feel, even though there’s enough to fill a small museum. All are discreetly for sale.The Averills take their art so seriously that even the main floor ATM blends into the aesthetic. As someone who is obsessed with aesthetic, I fully support this attention to detail. Next up: details on Whitefish at night!