5 Cozy Alpine Lodges With Excellent Dining
Elevate your mountain getaway with a culinary high at these five alpine lodges where the in-house dining is reason enough to reserve a room.
Emerald Lake Lodge
Photograph courtesy of Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts
Located on Tunnel Mountain in Banff, Buffalo Mountain Lodge, part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts (CRMR) group, is set among towering evergreens and reflects classic Canadiana style with decor touches that include exposed timber beams, fieldstone wood-burning fireplaces, antler chandeliers and craftsman furnishings. After strolling Banff Avenue or skiing at nearby Norquay or Sunshine Village, refuel back at the lodge with a Rocky Mountains-inspired meal in the Sleeping Buffalo dining room. Chef Kelly Strutt’s menu focuses on game and beef raised on the CRMR ranch, paired with local grains and seasonal vegetables. Order the CRMR game-ranch duo of grilled bison strip loin and braised elk short rib served with a rich mushroom ragout and a creamy celery root puree. Your stomach will thank you.
As Canadian Pacific Railway hotels go, this one, a square-timbered, Swiss-inspired lodge built in 1902, is pretty special. Now part of the CRMR group, part of its charm is its remote setting, located on the shore of Emerald Lake and surrounded by the jagged Canadian Rockies in the back-of-beyond that is Yoho National Park. Among the creature comforts the lodge brings to the wilderness is the welcoming Mount Burgess Dining Room. Chef Valerie Morrison has perfected Rocky Mountain cuisine in dishes such as the free range chicken breast, a best-seller that’s like a white wine version of coq au vin, with prosciutto, pearl onions, mushrooms and delicate gnocchi, all seasoned with fresh herbs.
Tucked away on Spray Lakes Road south of Canmore, overlooking a snow-covered meadow and set against a backdrop of imposing Rocky Mountain peaks, sits Mount Engadine Lodge, a car-accessible, all-inclusive retreat that feels like it’s in the backcountry. Spend your day cross-country skiing or snowshoeing the numerous trails in Spray Valley Provincial Park, then return for a family-style dinner prepared by chef Gerard Garnier. He will please your palate with new takes on traditional dishes such as roasted Canadian lamb served with cumin au jus on a bed of Indian-spiced green lentils. House-made fritters will send you to bed happy, and you’ll be ready to repeat the following day.
When Swiss-born brothers George and André Schwarz purchased The Post Hotel in 1978, they vowed to lure guests by wowing their taste buds with exquisite European-influenced cuisine. Nearly four decades on, the food is still the star at this Relais & Chateaux property nestled in the village of Lake Louise. The Schwarz bros. have built a loyal following that returns to the alpine-styled hotel to ski at Lake Louise, unwind with a treatment at the Temple Mountain Spa and then appease their appetites with spectacular fare from the restaurant that’s been named Best Food in the Americas by Condé Nast Traveler. You can’t go wrong with the veal tenderloin (Zurich-style) or, if the wallet allows, chateaubriand of Alberta angus beef, paired with a bottle of red from the award-winning wine cellar. Oh, and if you don’t finish your wine, bring it back to your room to sip in front of a real crackling fire while giant snowflakes fall softly outside.
You have to ski-tour 11 km over two mountain passes to get to Skoki, a welcoming outpost that consists of a cozy log lodge and three cabins set amid a winter wonderland of snow-toqued peaks and rime-frosted evergreens in the backcountry behind Lake Louise Ski Resort. But the exertion means you can stuff your face with baked goodies during afternoon tea and with gourmet comfort food served buffet-style that ranges from hearty pastas and warming soups for dinner, to eggs Benedict for breakfast. Chef Katie Mitzel doesn’t let the remoteness of her kitchen stand in the way of using fresh fruit and vegetables, either. Guests will roll into their basic (but comfortable) beds and fall into a dreamless sleep, only to be lured from under their down comforters by the smell of freshly brewed coffee and sizzling bacon.