The perception of luxury can be a subjective or shared filter. For some, the epitome of luxe may mean exclusive indulgence, for others it’s a one-of-a-kind experience you just can’t put a price on. With epic wild landscapes adorning every province and territory, Canada is blessed with an enviable backdrop of natural beauty. Whether you opt for a rural retreat or designer digs, find your own 5-star experience at these unique stays.
Hotel de Glace, Quebec City, Quebec
For a magical window in winter (mid-December to March), one of Canada’s most unique hotels emerges annually from the frozen surrounds just outside Quebec City. The only hotel of its kind in North America, Hotel de Glace is truly a spectacular on ice – an icy edifice of art and architecture with backlit igloos, translucent icicle pillars and intricate snow sculptures.
Cosy up for a night in one of the 45 rooms and designer suites (complete with Nordic sleeping bag and a comfortable mattress on a solid block of ice). During your stay you can visit the onsite sugar shack and chapel; sip a colourful cocktail in the Ice Bar, chilled in an ice glass, of course; or indulge yourself with a spa or sauna under the stars.
Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, Tofino, British Columbia
Cosying up to misty rainforest and ensconced in a lush valley on the banks of a pristine estuary within the UNESCO-designated Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve, this secluded outpost of just 25 safari tents is 5-star luxury unzipped. Only accessible by floatplane from Vancouver or by boat from Tofino on Vancouver Island and open from May to September, the eco-friendly Clayoquot Wilderness Resort offers restorative, relaxing and rejuvenating options with wildlife watching (black bears and a variety of whales), adventure activities and an onsite spa available.
That is if you can rouse yourself from the overstuffed lounges by the crackling outdoor fireplace. The sumptuous safari tents in turn-of-the-century pioneer style are an equally immersive experience you may never want to leave.
Northern Lights Resort & Spa, Whitehorse, Yukon
With a picture-perfect backdrop of the McClintock Mountains swathed by inky sky and scented with pine, the rural haven of Northern Lights Resort & Spa is log cabin bliss. Set in the serene surrounds of Yukon River Valley on a private 65-hectare estate, just 20 minutes from Whitehorse, you can cocoon yourself in authentic alpine cabins or witness the northern lights from the newly built, modern Aurora Glass Chalets.
With its secluded location and zero light pollution, the year-round resort offers the perfect opportunity to experience the breathtaking wintry phenomenon of the aurora borealis from the deck, tepee or even an outdoor hot tub for nature’s best lightshow.
Emerald Lake Lodge, Yoho National Park, Alberta
Surrounded by pristine Canadian Rockies wilderness only 20 minutes from Lake Louise, the historic and high-end Emerald Lake Lodge is lapped by the iridescent jewel-hued waters of its namesake lake, the largest in Yoho National Park. While the decor is century-old saloon style replete with stone fireplaces, a salvaged oak bar from the Yukon and 24 inviting cabin-style heritage buildings (for up to 200 guests) dotted across a five-hectare private island, it’s really the expansive vistas of Emerald Lake and the impressive peaks of the wraparound ranges that will wow.
For foodies, the award-winning onsite dining dishes up hearty Rocky Mountain cuisine complemented by local and international wines. The year-round resort ideally located in the middle of Yoho National Park is a winter playground of snow sports that transforms into a mirrored lakeside idyll in summer.
This story originally appeared in Flight Centre's Travel ideas: Canada magazine, available in stores and online.