A stunning backdrop of the Rocky Mountains covered in white powdery snow. Luxe, cozy accommodations right on the hillside. Healthy, gourmet food, relaxing yoga, and a weekend spent zipping down the slopes. Don’t even act like you aren’t sold on the idea of a ski/yoga retreat!
Sunshine Village located in beautiful Banff, Canada has rolled out the brand new program in time for the 2014 season. I was lucky enough to be one of the first guests invited to try it out, and honestly…I did not want to go home!
Guests arrive on Friday evening and get right into it with a restorative yoga session where you’ll set your intentions for the weekend. Light sighs of your fellow yogis breathing through postures and the distant whirring of plows on the ski hill are the only sounds you’ll hear as you stretch and get ready for a long, restful sleep.
Speaking of sleep, let me fill you in on the accommodations. Guests get to spend the whole weekend in the newly restored Sunshine Mountain Lodge, which features rooms that have either a queen bed, Murphy bed and lounge area, or loft rooms that take up two floors and include jetted tubs, three huge beds and uninterrupted view of the mountain side. All rooms have amenities like comfy robes, a fully stocked coffee/tea station and fireplaces. The best part is that it’s a ski in/ski out lodge, meaning you’re just steps away from the chair lifts. Oh, and the huge outdoor hot tub that faces the hill is pretty sweet after a day of skiing, too!
Day two will see you get up bright and early for a morning yoga session. Starting around 8 a.m., you’ll move through Hatha yoga poses aimed at waking you up and limbering you up for the hill. A nutritious breakfast awaits after Shavasana—think oatmeal, fresh berries and eggs Benedict—before you bundle up and head outside for the first snow session.
Now, don’t get any funny ideas about this whole yoga-on-the-hill business. You won’t be expected to bust out a downward dog while perched on a mogul or meditate while riding up the chairlift.
However, the instructor will gather the group at the top of each run and give you something to think about before you head down, whether it’s trying to feel your skis/board hit the bumps in the snow, or learning to acknowledge obstacles on the hill and be better prepared for them. Truth be told, it’s a fantastic alternative to just blindly heading down like most people usually do! You also don’t have to be Lindsay Vonn to take part in the group sessions, and if you’d rather spend your time on the bunny hill instead that’s perfectly acceptable.
READ MORE: Alberta’s best ski resorts
The rest of the Saturday itinerary includes a gourmet lunch before heading back outside for another couple of hours skiing, or you can simply relax in the lodge and enjoy some free time instead. Around 4 p.m. the group will once again gather for a yoga session which will help work out all the kinks from a day of riding the slopes—you might be surprised at just how much a roller can hurt at that point! A few of us managed to sneak in a trip to the huge outdoor hot tub before getting ready for dinner, and after a full day of activities and decadent meals you’ll be ready to hit the hay in your big, comfy bed.
The retreat wraps up with another yoga session and breakfast on Sunday morning, before you either head home to reality or spend the rest of the day enjoying Sunshine Village’s champagne powder. Either way, you’re sure to leave with an utterly zen feeling.
Getting there: Sunshine Village is located about 15 minutes past Banff, Alberta, which is a one hour drive west on the Trans-Canada from Calgary. After arriving at the base of the hill, you’ll check in and drop off your luggage before hopping on the gondola for the 20 minute ride up to the top where the lodge is. Be sure to dress warm!
Pricing: The weekend costs $600 per person based on double occupancy, or $750 for singles. The package includes two nights of accommodation in a West Wing Premier room, a welcome reception, meals, daily yoga, lift tickets and ski instruction.
What to bring: All of the yoga equipment (mats, blocks) are provided. Ski and snowboarding equipment is not, but you can rent them on the hill if you don’t own any. The lodge has storage lockers for all of your gear, and staff will put it all away for you after you drop it off at the bottom of the hill.
How to book: Click here for more information on dates and scheduling, or call 1-877-542-2633.
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GALLERY: Sunshine Village