When the current owners of Eagle Pass Heliski bought the company, they had a problem. For their first winter, the previous owners signed a contract with Three Valley Gap hotel.
While it’s a great summer destination, in the winter it sits in the middle of a dark and windy valley. With more than 200 rooms, it was huge for a boutique heli-ski company with a dozen or so guests at a given time.
“It was like having to be in a Scooby Doo mansion a bit,” said part-owner and lead guide Scott Newsome. “It wasn’t conducive for heli-skiing and the product people come to expect when they’re paying that kind of money.”
The location caused the business to suffer and many clients didn’t return. Eagle Pass moved to other locations the following winters while re-building their clientele, eventually settling at a luxury home south of Revelstoke. Meanwhile, they searched for a site to build a lodge they could call home.
“It’s awesome to have this finally come to fruition. It’s been a long road,” said Newsome. “For us, it’s about giving back to our long-term clients, clients that have been with us from the beginning.”
Eagle Pass Lodge is located next to the Mount Macpherson trail network. A gravel road switchback’s up a hillside to the 12-room hotel, which is located in the far corner of the property. Their goal was to make it feel remote while being a 10 minute drive from Revelstoke. I drove up there one day to meet Newsome and Sandra Gregory, the lodge manager. They were hosting a group of mountain bikers being guided by Wandering Wheels.
I was met by Gregory, while Newsome was finishing up lunch in the bright dining room. We talked for a bit before I sat down with Newsome in the bar, which opens on to a patio with a direct view of Mount Begbie.
Eagle Pass specializes in small group heli-skiing with loyal clientele; they are almost fully booked for next winter. They offer multi-day vacations that will be based out of the lodge, and day heli-skiing, which is based out of their operations centre west of Revelstoke. I asked Newsome about the company and what it meant to open the lodge.
Eagle Pass Lodge was designed to provide both the feeling of a heli-ski lodge, but also give them the ability to operate it like a hotel in the summer, he said. “We designed it so we could have the opportunity to run it like a hotel but still have that nice, modern, homey feel for the winter side of things.”
Gregory, who has worked on hotels around the world, was brought onboard to manage the lodge operations. “This has been my baby from the architects to the designers to the maintenance,” she said.
The hotel has all the trappings of a ski lodge — a dining area, lounge, a massage studio, outdoor hot tub and a gear room that can double as a yoga studio.
The bedrooms are located upstairs off a long hallway. They feature a relaxing design, with white walls and wood panelling behind the beds.
“The detail is to make sure we immerse ourselves in nature. We have the quality through luxury, but for myself its the elevation of service,” Gregory told me. “We may not have a TV in every room, but at the same time I want to make sure Mr. Smith likes his chardonnay.”
The lodge officially opened Canada Day weekend. Eagle Pass’ goal is to host groups that book out the entire hotel for a weekend or an event, like the group of mountain bikers that were there when I visited. You can also book a room starting at $289 per night, including breakfast.
“We’re looking more for private — someone that wants that 12 rooms to themselves,” said Gregory. “We’re looking for someone who wants to make this space their own, and we’ll figure out what works in the process.”
Gregory said they are planning a workshop series called Class Act to get the local community out to the lodge. There will be workshops on everything from gardening to hair care to wine tasting. “The idea of Class Act is we’ll feature local talent,” she said. “We’re all here for the outdoors but sometimes you just want to learn about something.”
Their plan is to ease into business this summer. The restaurant and bar will be open to the public for special events. Guy Seymour is the executive chef.
“Ultimately we want to be a restaurant, but we think that’s more for next summer,” said Newsome. “We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves just yet.”