Fairmont Hot Springs, British Columbia: Where Warmth comes Naturally

From the moment he saw Fairmont Hot Springs in late 1800s, adventurer Sam Brewer was in love. After partnering with original settler George Geary, Sam and his wife Helen settled in and bought Geary’s horse ranch and roadhouse in 1888. The venture was successful and began a long history of attracting visitors to this spectacular corner of British Columbia (aka BC).

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Canada’s largest natural hot springs

Fairmont Hot Springs boasts Canada’s largest natural hot springs, is nestled between south-eastern BC’s Rocky Mountains and Purcell Mountains in the Columbia Valley. Technically the community has only 476 residents, but the summer population grows from 2,000 to 5,000 when vacationers flock to this resort community.

As might be expected, the hot springs are the main attraction of the area. Guests have discovered that the mineral content which includes calcium bicarbonate, calcium sulphate, magnesium sulphate, sodium chloride, sodium sulphate, silica, potassium chloride and dissolved radium is a great way to sooth muscles, improve circulation and ease aches and pains. While the natural temperature is between 119 to 125°F, the hot pool is maintained at 102°F (39°C), the swimming pool is 89°F (32°C), and the dive pool at 86°F (30°C).

The hot springs are located at the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort and guests have access to hot and cold plunge pools as well as the outdoor mineral pool. For vacationers not staying the resort, there are single entry, day pass and family rates available. The best deal is to take advantage of the $6.00 late night swim rate (times vary by season).

For those who want a little pampering, the Natural Springs Spa at the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort offers a variety of services. Spa services include massage therapy, scrubs and soaks, wraps, facials, manicures and pedicures. Additionally, guests may relax in the steam or dry sauna or experience the hot and cold plunge pools and the outdoor mineral pool. Day spa guests may soak in the private guest pool; which is recommended before any spa treatments.

Year round activities

Visitors are drawn to the area because of winter activities have plenty of choices. There is skiing (downhill and cross-country), snowboarding, tubing, skating, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, winter hiking and geocaching. And the après ski is touted as among the best in North America. Where else can you ski all day and relax in soothing hot springs at night?

In the summer, golfers have access to nine golf courses within 45 minutes of Fairmont Hot Springs, with Mountainside, Riverside and family-friendly Creekside located just minutes away. And for those who don’t golf, there are many other activities to choose from, including kayak and rafting tours, archery camps, daily children’s activities, trail rides, ATV tours, biking and fishing. And one of the most popular activities hiking some of the famous trails in the Columbia Valley – the HooDoos, the Bugaboos, Lake of the Hanging Glacier and Pedley Pass.

At the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort’s, Executive Vice President is Peter Smith, who has been a resident in the area since 1976, believes that the biggest draw – even more than the hot springs and the plethora of activities – is the bonding that takes place at Fairmont Hot Springs. Families, friends and corporate groups come back year after year because of the time they can spend together.

“Your parents brought you here, and you’re bringing your children here. We have lots of that happening. And that’s what Fairmont means to a lot of these people. It’s a special place.”

The peaceful surroundings and abundant wildlife help to create special memories at Fairmont Hot Springs. It’s common to spot deer, elk, big horned sheep and a variety of birds. Oh yes, there’s also bears. They can cause quite a commotion, but in a good way. Here’s a YouTube video shot by some golfers of a playful bear cub on the course.

Enjoy the local flavors

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While many guests prepare their meals in their villas and vacation properties, there are a variety of restaurants and coffee shops available. Some restaurants are seasona, such as Tony’s Greek Grill, Mountainside Clubhouse and Dapper’s Landing Lounge (for the golfers) and Desperados & Sundance Café (for the skiers), but there is still a nice variety of restaurants that open year round. Fairmont Hot Springs Pizza & Ice Cream Parlor offers a large variety of excellent food, including pizza, salads, ice cream, homemade desserts and “retro” candy. The owners, John and Margot Cain, and Vernon Victor, take pride in not only providing a casual dining experience but being a source of information to visitors during the off season when the visitor’s centre is closed.

Smoking Waters Coffee Co. is a popular coffee shop that is famous its cinnamon buns. Other centrally located restaurants, just off the main highway, are the Farside Inn Pub and Eatery (for pizza lovers) as well as From Scratch – A Mountain Kitchen where you can either eat in or choose a refrigerated or frozen chef-prepared meal to take back to the vacation property.

The Fairmont Hot Springs Resort also has a few options for those who are visiting the hot springs. Steamers is perfect for a quick coffee, sandwich or pastry. For a more elaborate meal, there’s Mountain Flowers or the Bear’s Paw Bar and Grill.

Perhaps the greatest benefit Fairmont Hot Springs can offer is the opportunity to de-stress in a beautiful, natural setting. Long-time resident Peter Smith says it best: “People go back [to
their homes] and say, ‘Now I can face my world again.’ It’s a place for them to recharge, and there aren’t many places like that left in the world.”

Prices for a vacation rental property in Fairmont Hot Springs, BC range from $78 to $353 per night.

ARTICLES AND PHOTOS BY Linda Wilkinson

Join and Read more of the May-June 2015 Issue

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