Monday, March 11, 2019

Five Reasons you need to Visit Fairmont Hot Springs Resort with your Family

My family has spent a lot of time at the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort over the years and it's always been one of our favourite places to spend a day while exploring in the East Kootenay Rockies of British Columbia. Recently we got the opportunity to experience "winter at the resort" with skiing, tubing, and deluxe cabin camping.

Winter or summer, Fairmont Hot Springs is a vacation wonderland for families and you have to experience it yourself.

Summer at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort (vacation wonderland!)

Fairmont Hot Springs is located in the Columbia Valley between the communities of Radium Hot Springs and Invermere to the north, and the City of Kimberley to the south. From Calgary, the drive is just over 3 hours depending on where you live. It's easy enough to reach Fairmont on a Friday after work, and the drive is doable for a short weekend, returning to the city Sunday afternoon.

For a more relaxed visit, plan a trip out to Fairmont over a long weekend (Easter and Thanksgiving are beautiful times to travel here) or reserve one of the deluxe cabins for a week this summer. (It's a great vacation spot!)

Deluxe Cabin Camping at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

Five Reasons you need to Visit Fairmont Hot Springs Resort with your Family 

One. The Hot Springs (of course!!)  - some of our favourite in fact!

It's no secret in our family that I love the Fairmont Hot Springs pools and that we will be visiting the resort (no matter where we stay in the Columbia Valley) for at least an afternoon.

Warm Swimming Pool at  the Resort (credit: Fairmont Hot Springs Resort)

Reasons to LOVE the Fairmont Hot Springs Pools:

  1. They are hotter than the ones at Radium Hot Springs. And while I do love Radium Hot Springs in the summer, they just aren't hot enough for me in the winter.

  2. The hot soaking pool and the warm swimming pool are side by side so I can spend my time happily soaking in the hotter pool while my son is playing with his friends in the other pool - and I can still keep an eye on them. (My husband also prefers the cooler pool so he's usually over there with the kids.)

Disclaimer: The dive tank has been closed for several years, but will be reopening in spring 2024 along with at least one small diving board.

Winter at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

AND, if "natural" is more your thing, make sure you check out the Indigenous Baths, a short walk up the hillside from the Fairmont Hot Springs parking lot. This historic bath house and small bathing pools were popular with early settlers and explorers in the Columbia Valley.

Sunset from the Indian Baths above Fairmont Hot Springs

2. Accommodations for all Comfort Levels, Family Needs, and Budgets

We recently spent a weekend in one of the new deluxe cabins (open year round,) located beside the resort in the campground. And lest you think you'll be "camping," these cabins are pretty comfortable. Each cabin has a kitchen with a full sized fridge, a dishwasher, microwave, Keurig coffee maker, stove and oven, and everything you'll need for your family's needs. There's also a barbecue located on the deck of each cabin. Going one step further, the TV also has Netflix on it so you can hang out on the balcony with your glass of wine while the kids are happily entertained.

Deluxe Cabins at Fairmont Hot Springs

The cabins sleep four people and have two bedrooms, one with a queen sized bed for the parents, and the other with bunk beds for the kids. I loved the separate bedrooms because it meant I didn't have to go to bed at 8pm with my son. (The kids went to bed, and us adults could stay up and hang out in the living room.) It also worked out well when my son was awake at 6am the next morning - and needed a place to read books and eat his cheerios (without disturbing this mom's beauty sleep.)

Deluxe Cabins at Fairmont Hot Springs

Spend a few nights in one of these comfortable cabins and wake up to deer grazing outside your door. Start your day with a short walk over to the main lodge for a cup of coffee from Steamers Cafe or enjoy weekend brunch at the Antler's Restaurant. After that, you'll enjoy your proximity to the hot pools which you can easily reach in your bathrobe (adult robes provided in each room.) - bring your own bathrobes for the children.

And when you get tired of cooking, there's a great family-friendly lounge, the Bear's Paw Bar and Grill, in the main lodge. The pizza is incredible so I highly recommend at least one meal here.

Cabin to Hot Springs! (It was a short 2 minute sprint)

Other accommodations at Fairmont Hot Springs include:

  • Lodge rooms (some with lofts and kitchenettes) - they sleep 4-8 people

  • Summer duplex-style cabins - they sleep up to 4 people and are dog friendly

  • Summer cottages - they sleep up to 6 people

  • Juniper Lodge rooms (with kitchenettes) - they sleep up to 4 people and some are dog friendly. 

* All stays include access to the hot pools during your visit including a private hot pool for resort guests only.

** Many of the cabins and cottages work very well for groups or family reunions. Book a bunch of rooms or cabins side by side, bring your lawn chairs, and you can hang out on the lawn visiting while the kids run around and play.

For more information, please visit the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort website.

Private hot spring pool for overnight guests only

3. Ski and Soak! Downhill Skiing + Hot Springs for the Win!

Spend your day at the Fairmont Hot Springs Ski Area and then enjoy the best family après-ski experience in the Rockies! All lift tickets for the ski hill include complimentary entry to the hot springs at the end of your ski day - perfect if you're not staying at the resort since guests already get access to the pools.

Ski and Soak at Fairmont Hot Springs

Family-friendly fun at Fairmont Hot Springs
We spent a day at the ski hill on our recent visit to Fairmont Hot Springs and I was impressed by this "cute little ski hill." The resort has a total of 13 runs ranging in difficulty from green to black, two terrain parks, and a tube park.

There is one triple chairlift which we used most of the time, but my son also liked riding the Happy Trails Platter Lift by himself and skiing the short easy runs off this beginner lift while I'd warm up in the day lodge with a coffee.

While the resort only has a vertical of 304 metres, it's a great hill to learn on, it's affordable for families, and the longest run is 1.5 km long - which isn't bad for a beginner skier making his/her way down a mountain.

Most of the runs were groomed but skiers wanting more of a challenge will find it on the black runs where we definitely found moguls, glades, and the "real deal" for downhill skiing.

Tube Park Fun at Fairmont Hot Springs

We loved the cozy day lodge, the family-friendly lounge, Desperados, and had a lot of fun on the tube park - though do not ask for the spin unless you really like fast amusement park rides! (I was dizzy for an hour after one spin.)

Skiing at Fairmont Hot Springs Family Ski Area 
Successful family day in the mountains at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

4. Bike, Hike, and Soak from April through October!

Summer comes very early to the Columbia Valley and you can be mountain biking on dry trails by mid to late April! There's even green grass by that time. We also come out for Thanksgiving in October because it's definitely still warm and we can even camp.

April at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

Some of our favourite family-friendly mountain bike trails are located near Fairmont so we always come out here in the spring and fall when it's not quite as hot.

Read more about mountain biking in the Columbia Valley here: The Best Family Bike Trails in the Columbia Valley 

Mountain biking in Fairmont - in May! (Full on summer weather!)

Other recommended reading: 

Spring hiking near Fairmont Hot Springs

5. Stay at Fairmont Hot Springs and Enjoy a Full Activity Program (year round) 

First, you have the hot springs, the ski area, biking and hiking trails nearby, Lake Windermere just a short drive away if you want a beach day, several golf courses in the area, and the Columbia River flowing through the valley for great paddling (or tubing in the summer.) In the winter you can also go ice-skating on Lake Windermere, the world's longest skating path with several loops to choose from.

Add to all of that, the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort also has a full activity program run by the "Activity and Experience Centre."

Hiking along the creek below the resort, a great place to see waterfalls and mineral rich pools

On our recent visit, we could have registered for a family yoga class, participated in a starlight challenge at the ski hill, or watched a family movie in the new games room the lodge has set up in the basement. - and this was all on Friday night alone! There were other activities running throughout the weekend.

Every day the lodge offers a fully equipped games room, grab and go craft bags, scavenger hunts, snowshoe rentals, and ice skating in the winter. Add s'mores nights on the Bear's Paw Patio, family activities and challenges at the lodge or at the ski area, cookie decorating, face painting, and more! There's always something going on - and most of these activities are included with your stay (no extra cost.) - note that there is a charge to rent snowshoes.

Waterfalls below the hot springs at Fairmont 

In the summer there are even more activities available including:

  • Mini golf

  • Tennis courts

  • Volleyball

  • Kayak tours and rentals for exploring the Columbia River or wetlands

  • Kids Day Camps

  • ATV tours (nearby)

  • Geocaching

  • Horseback riding at the stables right at Fairmont Hot Springs (along with pony rides for the younger kids)

  • Ziplining at the Mineral Mountain Ziplines at Fairmont 

  • River rafting tours (nearby) 

  • River tubing float trips with rentals (self guided with transportation provided to the starting point)

Note there are additional charges for most of the activities above and some of them are not guided by the resort. The Activity Centre will connect you with your tour operator though and make reservations for you. 

For more information, follow this link to Things to Do at Fairmont Hot Springs

Family Exploring along the Columbia River 

Additional Recommended Reading

The Best of the Columbia Valley (Radium Hot Springs to Invermere - and beyond!)

Winter Guide to the Columbia Valley (Golden, Radium Hot Springs, Invermere - and beyond!)

Disclaimer: My family was hosted on our recent visit to the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort. Also please note that we have not tried all of the activities mentioned in this story (yet.) It's an ongoing mission of ours to explore every corner of the valley but it's going to take us a few years yet to try everything.


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