Courtesy of The Globe and Mail: A new light on Red Mountain
Stylish digs, upscale dining and next-level services at the Josie Hotel make the isolated ski resort even more worthy of a road trip for Adam Bisby
After guiding me safely along 300 kilometers of snowy British Columbia highway, Google Maps seems to be leading me astray. This can't be Red Mountain Resort I see before me as I pull into the fog-shrouded parking lot. The squat Day Lodge is exactly like the one I visited six years ago, and the base area's two chairlifts are similarly familiar. Right next door, however, a striking five-storey structure - the new Josie Hotel - prompts an immediate double take.
This isn't Whistler or Mont Tremblant or Aspen, after all. This is Red Mountain, a literal and figurative outlier that has no high-speed lifts, is 2.5 hours by car or shuttle bus from the nearest reliable airport in Spokane, Wash., and isn't included on any multi resort ski pass. Its four Monashee peaks, including the snowcat-serviced Mount Kirkup, are littered with ramshackle huts belonging to local ski clubs. The Day Lodge, home of the infamous Rafters tavern, was once a compressor building for local gold-mining operations that included the new hotel's namesake, the Josie Mine. As one of North America's largest independently owned mountain resorts, Red gets about 150,000 skier visits a season. Whistler Blackcomb, which is less than double Red's size, gets more than 15 times that amount.
What, then, is a $40-million boutique hotel doing here? The question becomes more intriguing still as I pull into the concrete-pillared porte cochère, hand my rental-car keys to the waiting valet and step into the window-lined lobby of what's said to be the first ski-in, ski-out hotel to open in Canada in more than a decade.
Modern ski-resort lodgings tend to fall back on rusticity - the wall-mounted faux antlers and stacked-slate fireplaces become tiresome after a while - but there's little of this at the Josie. The lobby's whimsically bushy chandeliers, leather sofas and parquet floor would look right at home on Toronto's Queen Street West. Then I notice the two red chairlift seats facing the front desk, and my appreciation for the snowstorm outside is renewed.
The urban-beats-rustic theme continues in the 106 guest rooms and suites, which start at $179 a night and range from two-queen-bed and single-king configurations to studios and one-bedroom suites. My luggage waits for me in one of the latter, which features expansive dining and lounge areas - both with stylish furnishings and plushly upholstered seating for at least six guests - along with a slope facing balcony with heated floor. The marble-clad bathroom is home to sunken double sinks, a glorious porcelain pedestal bathtub and a glass shower stall that could also accommodate six guests if need be.
Some serious refreshment is required after the 3.5 hour drive from Kelowna International Airport - the closest reliable Canadian gateway - and that's where the Velvet Restaurant and Lounge comes in. The slickly illuminated open-concept space encompasses a dining room, lounge and rectangular bar, all of which are separated from a roomy outdoor patio by floor-to-ceiling glass doors. The cocktail and dining menus are similarly on-trend, with George Dickel Rye Whisky poured from bartop-mounted mini-barrels, and maple- and sake-marinated baked sablefish ($36) swimming in bacon dash broth with bok choy, soba noodles and daikon slices.
If breezing from my suite to dinner is a pleasure, breezing from a room-service breakfast to a full day on Red's powder laden slopes is a joy. The Josie's outstanding ski valets have all my rental equipment ready and waiting at the hotel's slopeside entrance the following morning, and again the next day at Big Red Cats's nearby headquarters. Here I join two guides and 10 other guests on a journey across the tour operator's 19,300-acre, eight-peak backcountry tenure that takes joy to out-of-body extremes.
Eight sublime descents later, I'm wishing the Josie would hurry up and finish its in-house spa and mountainside pool area, both of which are slated to open later this year. My suite's tub does the trick, however, and as I soak my tired limbs, I raise a glass of Rossland Beer Co.'s Paydirt Pale Ale to Noble House Hotels & Resorts, the U.S.-based luxury chain that chose Red for its first Canadian venture.
So what is a $40-million boutique hotel doing here? The past 48 hours speak for themselves, Red Mountain has always rewarded travellers' extra efforts with some of the world's best skiing and snowboarding. Now, with the arrival of the Josie, the rewards are even greater.
About The Josie hotel
Experience the true soul exhilaration of living for today at The Josie hotel (The Josie). The Josie is a boutique ski-in, ski-out hotel located at the base of RED Mountain Resort (RED) in Rossland, British Columbia. With 106 guest rooms and suites, crackling fire pits, a premier spa, fitness facility and ski concierge services; The Josie merges boutique accommodations with authentic Red Mountain adventure and the distinct spirit of Rossland. The destination hotel boasts more than 1,500 square feet of unique venue space and an adjoining terrace, all with stunning vistas of RED and the Rossland range. The Velvet Restaurant and Lounge (The Velvet), The Josie's full-service dining establishment, serves locally-inspired craft cooking. To meet The Josie, please visit www.thejosie.com and follow @thejosiehotel.
About Noble House Hotels & Resorts, Ltd.
A privately held company for more than 35 years, Noble House Hotels & Resorts, Ltd. was founded in 1979 by owner and chairman Patrick R. Colee as a commercial property development group, later transitioning in 1994 to the dynamic hospitality ownership and management company it is today. Headquartered in Seattle, Washington and continuously growing, Noble House owns and manages an upscale portfolio of 18 distinct and visually captivating hotel properties, over 50 hotel restaurants, bars and lounges, the Napa Valley Wine Train, and a collection of spas, marinas, and private residences spanning the U.S. and Canada. Beachfront resorts spanning California and Florida are complimented by luxury retreats in Jackson Hole, Colorado, and British Columbia and balanced with a collection of urban hotels in Seattle, San Francisco, and College Station, Texas. Built upon a philosophy that emphasizes location, distinction, and soul, Noble House Hotels & Resorts dedicates itself to creating and managing exceptional properties that celebrate the local destination that surrounds. For more information, visit www.NobleHouseHotels.com or call Noble House Hotels & Resorts at 877-NOBLE-TRIP.