February Family Day Weekend in Alberta is the perfect opportunity to take a weekend away for some winter fun. It also happens to line up perfectly with my birthday, Valentine’s Day, and our anniversary. Last year, we took a trip to Jasper and stayed at the Mount Robson Inn and skied Marmot Basin. This year, that trip became a tradition.
We booked this trip really late this year because we were supposed to have been in Toronto with our friends to see Elton John in concert, but because of Covid-19 restrictions, those plans had to be cancelled. We are disappointed that our trip fell through, but grateful to be able to pull a backup plan together on one of Jasper’s busiest weekends of the year. The only hotel that had rooms available was the Tonquin Inn. It ended up being an affordable and enjoyable motel-style accommodation; we were one floor above our friends, had easy access to the parking lot, and were only minutes away from the restaurants and bars of Jasper’s main street. Tonquin Inn was clean, the staff were friendly, and they had lots of amenities. No complaints here.
We spent two days of our trip skiing at Marmot Basin. Since our two trips last year, we have come to love this ski resort very much. They have almost 100 runs with varying lifts, views, features, and skill levels; multiple chalets, restaurants, shops, and bars; a convenient ski-in-ski-out parking lot; limited line-ups; and affordable rates on lift tickets. We opted for the Escape Card again this year as it gives you the most bang for your buck if you plan on making multiple trips in a season. I was so impressed last year by the convenience of the direct-to-lift passes via the Escape Card, but this year, I was blown away. Marmot Basin installed RFID sensors at all of the chairlifts which allow ticket-holders to proceed through without staff having to scan your pass– your Escape Card stays in your pocket and the sensors automatically validate your lift pass. Pretty impressive, super convenient. For more information about Marmot Basin and what it offers, you’ll want to check out my post from last year, linked above.
The weather conditions were great: about 5 degrees on Saturday with decent snow and about minus 10 degrees on Sunday with fresh powder. We tried many new runs we had not tried before, enjoyed the occasional view of the mountains through the clouds, and luckily, didn’t experience too many wipeouts. It felt so great to get some fresh air and exercise after feeling cooped up for much of the winter.
We enjoyed mid-day warm-ups at Eagle Lounge on day one (mid-mountain) and Caribou Bar & Grill on day two (base of the mountain). The food at these chalets is always so satisfying and the cocktails are perfect to warm your belly and loosen up your nerves before hitting the slopes for the rest of the day. The Smoky Caesars are phenomenal and I also really enjoyed the Alpine Spritz cocktail.
After our long days of skiing, we love going back to the hotel for a nap, shower, and pre-drinks before ending our day a night out. It’s always so hard to choose between a familiar favourite or a new restaurant, but we decided to go for it and checked out two new-to-us restaurants over the course of the weekend. On Saturday night, we went to the De’d Dog Bar & Grill on Jasper’s main street. It’s a vibrant pub with delicious and satisfying apps and entrees as well as a great selection of beers and cocktails. I opted for nachos and a Cranberry Sour Ale from Folding Mountain Brewing.
On Sunday night, we had reservations for one of Jasper’s top fine-dining restaurants, Syrahs of Jasper. With an excellent reputation around town and fantastic reviews online, we were excited to check this place out. It really lived up to our expectations. With friendly, professional service and a delightful menu, we were able to enjoy a slow, classy evening out with friends. I cannot write this post without mentioning the White Chocolate Goat Cheesecake– it was without a doubt the best cheesecake I have ever had. If you find yourself in Jasper, do yourself a favour and visit Syrahs (and leave room for dessert).