Thursday, February 9, 2017

Kimberley Capers

Kimberley, British Columbia, Canada - Photo by Aaron Thiessen/Courtesy of Kimberley Alpine Resort
Pool area at Trickle Creek Lodge
Photo courtesy of Kimberley Alpine Resort
The last port of call in our month-long ski safari in Canada this Dec/Jan was Kimberley Alpine Resort where we stayed at Trickle Creek Lodge, right on the slopes. More sensational skiing to our doorstep, with ski lockers at the back door, enabling easy retreats to the commodious condo to recharge and revive during and after the downhill days - I think we were on about day 18 of skiing by the time we arrived!

Luxury living at Trickle Creek Lodge
Photo courtesy of Kimberley Alpine Resort
The apartments are Ikea-chic with benefits including large bedrooms, en suite bathrooms, full kitchens, balconies and fireside living rooms. And the outdoor hot tub and heated pool area is superb: a great place to rejuvenate the joints and chat with other holidaymakers, swapping ski stories and après ski tips. And with a strong sense of life-loving community in Kimberley, everyone is really friendly and helpful.

Me at Montana's - By Simon Hudson
The onhill village sports a lively Montana’s, open all day right in the hotel, a coffee bar café near guest services and the steamy Stemwinder Pub for après ski and dinner plus a live music schedule. My boys - both musicians - performed to great applause at an Open Mic event one night, doing a combo of ballads with guitar and rapping with Beatboxing! I think the locals were surprised by the 'new blood' in town. 

Skiing highlights at Kimberley included the Black Forest area for me, fabulous variety of lines off the top pathway down into glades featuring open meadow sections. Always interesting topography with soft snow on bumps, tree-lined which helps with visibility, and incredible views over the Purcell peaks as you descend. We didn’t manage the nightskiing after skiing all day every day, but it is an extra enticement - a mystical must for those who have never experienced it - running from the Northstar Quad on Thurs, Fri and Sat nights from 5:30-8:30pm.
Black Forest terrain at Kimberley - By Louise Hudson
Proximity to The Old Bauernhaus Restaurant is an added bonanza of staying on the hill - it's just 3 min drive. Brought over from Germany in 1989, it dates back to 1640 when the original farmhouse was constructed. You sit on benches which used to house the chickens and if I remember correctly the kitchen was the old pig pen - although it is the diners that are pigging out these days! 

The Old Bauernhaus, my fave apres ski restaurant outside of Europe! - By Louise Hudson
Over the centuries, various additions and changes to the windows meant that it couldn’t be considered a listed heritage building in Bavaria, so it was able to be sold, dismantled and rebuilt in Kimberley – the area which most reminded the original owners of the Bavarian Mountains where they had lived, hiked and skied. “It was placed at the base of the Kimberley ski hill in order to be an après ski Haus where you could come and enjoy a beer or Gluhwein with some meat and cheese or goulash,” says Michelle Fuhge, who now owns it with husband, Nils. “Canadians, however, wanted to go home and change from their gear and return for a ‘dinner’ experience. So, the restaurant has evolved over time to accommodate our customers.”

A mouthwatering Alpine menu is crowned by the Bavarian Feast. “This is a group menu (minimum two people) with five appetizers, house made breads, local cheeses and house made meats, baked brie, garlic prawns and two salads,” Michelle describes. “The main course is wienershnitzel, jagergeschnetzeltes (strips of meat in white wine cream sauce), spatzle (German noodles), pan-fried potatoes and seasonal vegetables.”  Served family style on platters, it is great for groups, small and large. 

My husband and sons shared the Feast - which they renamed the Beast - in early January when we were celebrating our son’s 21st birthday. I knew I couldn’t manage such a vast amount of food and opted instead for my ski-season fave, cheese fondue. Michelle says that the Feast is a fit for the many large extended families which come to Kimberley for skiing holidays, with something for everyone. “The other two favourites after a day on the slopes are our Schwine Haxen (Braised Pork Hock) - which we need a 24 hour pre-order notice to prepare - and our Cheese Fondue made with local cheeses and house made bread,” she adds. I need that recipe!

Kimberley powder - by Jenn Dykstra/courtesy of Kimberley Alpine Resort
Both she and Nils have loved skiing since arriving in Kimberley in 1999. “Living on a ski hill has definitely made us discover this amazing sport and we try to hit the hill two to three times a week,” she says. “We are so fortunate to have other ski hills nearby to mix it up some and see other peoples ‘backyards’ so to speak. But after travelling around, Kimberley is still one of our favourite hills.” The range of abilities catered for and the sunny aspect are big pluses for the Kimberley couple. “So many days we come down watching the stunning view of the Rocky Mountains on the far side of our valley,” she recalls. Other bonuses include the incredible back side for more challenging runs, where, she says, the lineups are reasonable and it's not difficult to find first tracks if you're early.  
Powder Matt in Kimberley - Courtesy of Kimberley Alpine Resort
The quality of this top terrain is really important to Kimberley which undergoes glade upgrades each summer. “This year, we’re giving certain areas of the mountain some extra TCL in order to reclaim and improve some of our popular gladed runs, including Twixt, Angus, Fullhouse in the famous ‘Black Forest’ area as well as Flush in the beloved Vimy Ridge area,” says Matt Mosteller (Sr. VP of Marketing & Resort Experience for RCR). “Fun fact - Flush is also known as our staff’s favourite run.” Next in line for improvements will be Boundary, Midget and Notre Dame.

In line with initiatives at sister resort, Fernie, Kimberley has brought ski touring to the area by joining forces with Boulder Hut Adventures. This experience combines Purcell powder with a stay at the 4.5 star Trickle Creek Lodge, from where you practically walk right onto the helicopter - adding 15,000 acres of backcountry bounty to the 2,000-acre resort skiing.

Heated patio at Pedal and Tap Restaurant, Kimberley - By Louise Hudson
As the fastest growing community in the Kootenays, Kimberley is attracting more and more lifestyle seekers, resulting in a combination of year-round pursuits - great skiing, snowboarding, Nordic and winter fat-biking, top-ranked golf courses, hiking, biking, camping, fishing, etc – as well as a rejuvenated downtown core. The town is literally cuckoo-clock quaint, with the world's largest cuckoo clock. No marring modern development here - instead a melodious mesh of Bavarian and Canadian alpine architecture, both in the pedestrianized Platzl and dotted around the hillsides and hummocks, adding to the pretty pastoral setting. New restaurants are springing up all the time, notably the Pedal and Tap a few years ago (a trendy, health-conscious eatery) and more recently its sister establishment, The Shed, for beer and Bingo.

Will Smit doing Kimberley Capers a few years ago
- By Louise Hudson

I think you can tell by my effusive descriptions that I love Kimberley. It is high on my bucket list of places I would like to live for a whole winter in the future and I already have some great friends living there of whom I am highly jealous! 

Do let me know if there are any ski towns that you love so I make sure to visit them, too, over the next few seasons.

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