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LUXURY HOTELS: Post Hotel & Spa, Lake Louise, CANADA
Style: Alpine meets Rockies
Scene: Quiet village
Seen in the lobby: The rich and famous who come to ski, not pose
It is a clear day and from the top of Lake Louise's high-speed gondola I have the kind of view that birds would envy. The ski is bright ice-blue and below me the runs of this vast resort fan out in all directions like the filigree points of a snow flake.

I have fallen head-over-ski-boot in love with the skiing at Lake Louise, the weather has been idyllic and the speedy gondola whips skiers up to such a wide variety of terrain that even beginners can make it to the top. Our days have passed in a swirl of spectacular views, sweeping runs and lunch-time stops at secluded cabins (oh, but the food has been good!).

hotel in winter
hotel in winter
post hotel and spa
cigar room
river view
wine cellar

My passion has also been fuelled by the fact that we are staying at Post Hotel & Spa which is definitely The Luxury Travel Bible's boutique stay of choice in this part of the world. Everyone will tell you to book into the famous Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, don't listen to them, listen to us. Situated in Banff National Park, heart of the Canadian Rockies this Relais & Chateaux property is quite possibly the perfect winter hotel and better still you won't find a single tour bus in the car park.

               I have fallen head-over-ski-boot in love with the skiing at Lake Louise
The day we arrive there has been a huge dump of snow and the little hamlet of Lake Louise is duvet-deep in white as if someone has thrown a down-filled bedcover over everything, leaving shapes softened and rounded. Fence posts are fat as snowmen, trees are laden with great dollops of snow and the columns announcing the driveway of the Post Hotel are so heavily covered that we almost drive straight past.

The windscreen is icy and even the car heater can't toast our toes but as we walk into the hotel the warmth settles on us like a blanket. We're just in time for homemade cakes and tea. We hibernate in the wide armchairs as Earl Grey is poured and consume vast chunks of orange and poppy seed cake with white icing as thick as the snow outside.

As the light begins to fade I look out of the wide windows across a frozen private lake. The Narnia-like lamp-posts around its perimeter wink on and a lone skater wobbles across the ice.

Originally built in 1942, the Post is part Canadian cabin, part Alpine chalet, all indulgence .Those last two attributes come courtesy of the owners, brothers André and George Schwarz . Born in Switzerland they were raised to appreciate good food, good wine and good company and for over 28 years, they've been sharing that appreciation with their guests. Andre is a keen skier and those with influence can sometimes tempt him out onto the mountain.

This Relais & Chateaux property is quite possibly the perfect winter hotel

Our suite is on two floors with a polished wood staircase leading from the lounge (and spare bed) to the master suite. There is a roaring fire in the stone fire place and a whirlpool tube to sooth aching ski limbs. Outside on the balcony icicles glisten from the roof.

One of the other great draws is that Post Hotel has an award winning wine cellar with 25,500 bottles and more than 2200 selections. The restaurant is one of the finest in Alberta. Since 2002, Wine Spectator US has consistently awarded the hotel its highest honour, the 'Grand Award'. The hotel restaurant is one of only four restaurants in Canada to achieve this recognition, no moose jerky here, so we really have to sample the food. With fairy-lights twinkling in the ceiling and a warm glow in the fieldstone fireplace the restaurant is the perfect backdrop for Executive Chef Hans Sauter's sophisticated European fare.
After a few days of Sauter's food we weigh ourselves - the result isn't pretty. Now who's for a double black diamond to burn off calories?
Check in:  200 Pipestone Road, Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada T0L 1E0
Tel: 800 661 1586 (toll-free)
Tel: 403 522 3989
Ultimate Luxury:  Drinking your way through that wine cellar
Most Indulgent Moment: Afternoon tea
Insider Secrets: André Schwarz, proprietor of the Post, fmade his mark in Lake Louise as an instructor and  Ski School Director. He has been called the father of modern Canadian ski techniques. Everyone who is anyone in the ski world knows him.
The Little Things: Staff make you feel as if this is your personal  ski lodge
Junior Luxies:  ..think its Christmas every day
Dress code: We did spot the odd patterned ski jumper but we don't recommend it.
Dent in the platinum:
Luxury Hotels Link: www.posthotel.com www.relais&chateaux.com
Luxury Travel Link: www.skibig3.com www.travelalberta.com www.canada.travel/ski www.brewsteradventures.com
Hilary Doling 28/10/10
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