As winter sets in and we prepare for the long cold, dark and wet months ahead, it helps to have a holiday on the horizon – something to traverse. While in previous years it could mean everything from the Bahamas to Bali, the pandemic’s travel restrictions suggest it could be easier to look closer at home. However, you may be surprised to learn that Canada does not have a shortage of luxury destinations to relax, unwind and take a break from the stress – even in the depths of winter. From the ice flakes of Fogo Island to the rustic charm of Quebec’s Eastern Townships to the wild rainforests of British Columbia, Canada’s best luxury hotels and resorts have everything you’ll find in the tropics, minus the sunshine and palm trees. As it turns out, Canada’s most beautiful places are as beautiful in the winter as they are in the summer.
Hiking Resort, Ontario
Pictures 2 and 3 lent by Patrick Biller
This lakeside resort in Prince Edward County is one of the newest arrivals to the region’s thriving tourism scene, and even in winter there is plenty to enjoy. With modern Nordic-inspired cabins equipped in pale shades and luxurious textures, selected selections of tea, coffee and sweets to enjoy, and cozy furniture to curl up in, it is a great place to relax at any time of the year. In winter, beach days become snowy days, with cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and ice skating (when the lake is frozen) all available within easy reach.
Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland
Photos courtesy of Alex Fradkin
No one knows how to get the best out of winter better than Newfoundlanders, especially the locals who run the Fogo Island Inn. From December to February, the inn offers a wonderful lo-fi range of traditional winter activities – from ice skating to snowmobiling to ice fishing – set against the island’s stunning scenery. With lots of books, board games and handmade duvets inside – plus the inn’s famous locally sourced food and drinks – there may not be a nicer place in the country.
Manoir Hovey, Quebec
Picture 5 lent by Mont-Orford
One of Canada’s most historic boutique hotels, Manoir Hovey, is nestled in the middle of farms and forests in Quebec’s eastern townships, on the shores of Lake Masssawipi. Built by American industrialist Henry Atkinson in 1900, this formerly magnificent property features porches, white columns and other architectural details inspired by George Washington’s house on Mount Vernon, Virginia. In winter, the hotel offers sleigh rides, crackling outdoor bonfires, ice fishing packages and some of the region’s best cuisine from farm to fork.
Fairmont Tremblant, Quebec
Picture 1 courtesy of Dustin Abbot, Picture 2 courtesy of Paul Fournier
There is no bad time of year to visit the green slopes of Mont-Tremblant, but winter shows the best this city has to offer – and it’s not just the mountain’s 102 skin runs. In addition to the hotel’s ski-in ski-out on the mountain, it is set up for all kinds of winter activities, from an outdoor champagne bar to guided nature walks to sleigh rides. Then of course there is the in-house Moment Spa, which offers a wide range of treatments and packages for solo guests and couples to relax in luxury.
Le Capitole, Quebec
With its old-world charm and famous winter carnival, Quebec City is still one of the best winter destinations in Canada, and there is no better place to explore the city’s diverse offerings than from the comfort of the boutique hotel Le Capitole. In addition to a grand piano, a double-sided fireplace and a bathtub overlooking the city, the 9e Ciel penthouse offers panoramic views from its ninth-floor seating area. Even better, you do not have to go far for excellent cuisine thanks to the hotel’s two restaurants.
Jasper Park Lodge, Alberta
You do not have to be a powder fan to appreciate Jasper in the winter, but it helps. Set amidst the mountains of Jasper National Park, Fairmont’s Jasper Park Lodge offers the nearby Marmot Basin with 3,000 vertical feet of top-tier skiing and snowboarding on no less than 86 named ski slopes. For non-skiers, the lodge offers a full menu of activities, from ice skating on Lake Mildred to stargazing and astronomy tours at the in-house Jasper Planetarium.
Rockwater Secret Cove Resort, British Columbia
Winter on BC’s Sunshine Coast is as unique and beautiful as this region’s towering evergreen plants and rugged, rocky shores, and this small resort displays this spectacular landscape on every occasion. Accommodation here ranges from a lodge to private cottages, but it is the luxuriously appointed Tenthouse suites with soaker tubs, rain shower and water views that will create an unforgettable experience for all who stay there. Although it would be easy to just sit and enjoy the scenery, the staff will be happy to arrange diving, fishing and hiking at your request.