A guest walks out of the Island Lake Lodge's main building – an impressive structure of large, hand-hewed logs.
FERNIE, BC — After an epic day of cat-skiing in Fernie, it’s hard to imagine retiring to an accommodation that’s just as mind-blowing as all that Rocky Mountain pow. With Island Lake Catskiing, that’s exactly what you get.
“We didn’t want the Lodge to feel like a letdown after a day on the mountain,” said Katey Taylor, sales and reservations representative at Island Lake Lodge. “If our guests spent their nights doing nothing more than wishing they were back on the mountain, than our package wouldn’t be nearly as popular as it is. Our accommodations are as high-end as our powder.”
Island Lake has been both a pioneer and trendsetter in the cat-ski game since 1986.
From basic to luxury
“When we started it was a pretty basic operation, just one lodge. We were one of the very first cat-ski operations in North America, so we only accommodated about a dozen guests.”
Now, more than 20 years later, Island Lake has expanded from its basic Bear lodge to include three more: the Red Eagle, Cedar, and Tamarack lodges.
“The entire operation really took off when we added the Tamarack and Cedar lodges [seven years ago]. We can now accommodate 36 guests – three cats of 12 – and with the public’s newfound interest in cat-skiing, those rooms are almost always full.”
The lodge offers two types of accommodations, standard and deluxe. The Red Eagle lodge is the standard accommodation, with rooms a little smaller and more rustic. The Tamarack and Cedar lodges feature the deluxe accommodations, which are larger, more luxurious rooms. All three lodges contain hot tubs, but the Tamarack features a few extra amenities that are available to all guests.
Plenty of amenities
Just past the front desk is the dining room, which serves delicious gourmet breakfasts and dinners. Downstairs is a full-treatment spa with six rooms. They offer everything from manicures and pedicures, to massages, facials, and more. Believe me, if there's ever a time for a full spa treatment, it's after a day of Catskiing in BC.
For après, head on down to the Bear lodge for some fantastic soup and sandwich combos. You’ll also find pool and ping-pong tables, and a big screen TV over the fireplace that shows a slideshow of your latest adventure on the mountain.
Guests of Island Lake Lodge can enjoy a game of chess beside the large wood-burning fireplace.
What’s really exciting is that all four lodges are run completely from hydro power.
“The entire Lodge is powered by micro hydro tanks,” said Mike McPhee, Island Lake Lodge’s sales and marketing manager. “There’s a spring nearby that flows into a creek, and from there, it flows into the lake. There’s a second creek at the other end, and we have turbines set up at both. Together they generate about 70 kilowatts of power.”
While there are dozens of cat-skiing operations across the world, people keep coming back to Island Lake. Even through the recent recession, the Lodge has maintained its regular clientele.
“About 70% of our customers are from the United States,” said Taylor, “so it speaks to the quality of the Lodge that we didn’t suffer that much during the recent economic crisis.”
The Lodge routinely houses guests from across the globe, however. Roughly 25% are from Australia and Europe.
“People can cat-ski all over the world, but they come to Fernie for the quality of our powder. The mountain is quite a bit higher than most, and we get an unbelievable amount of snow. And compared to our competition, the Island Lake Lodge offers a more high-end, luxurious product.”
If you’re in the market for a majestic backcountry lodge with full-service treatment in addition to the most amazing cat-skiing imaginable, make Island Lake Catskiing your next vacation destination. It’s truly an experience you’ll never forget.
For more stories and detail on Fernie check out our SnowSeekers' destination page.