On the one hand, there are only a handful of hotels, a ski resort, no real business district and few roads.
It’s a family business
It’s been rated the best ski resort in Canada.
Ask anyone who’s been, and you’ll likely hear how it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world. And It looks much the same as it always has, thanks to the protection of its park designation and the stewardship of one family.
The Lake Louise Ski Resort is family owned and operated by Charlie Locke, his wife, Louise and their two daughters, Robin and Kimberley. Both women grew up in Calgary and Lake Louise and are thrilled to be running the place that was so integral to their upbringing,
“We’ve been coming up basically since we were born,” Kimberley says. “We each learned to ski when we were 2, and we haven’t slowed down since.”
Their fingerprints can be seen all over The Lodge of Ten Peaks, which serves as base camp for the resort. The two-story stone fireplace at the center of the lodge is literally a product of their handiwork.
“Remember when we had to collect all of these rocks?” asks Kimberly Locke.
“Oh my gosh that was crazy,” Robin Locke says. “Our dad put us to work as teenagers — gathering rocks and stones, putting them in wheelbarrows — that are now part of this fireplace.”
Stepping away to come home
Kimberley (left) and Robin Locke run the resort with their parents.
The sisters, who both had careers before taking on their executive roles at Lake Louise Ski Resort, are co-vice president, and their father is president. (With two MBAs and a law degree between them, there isn’t much about business, let alone the ski business, that the sisters don’t know.)
“We learned all about the ski area growing up, and then we learned outside the ski industry and outside of Lake Louise and then we were able to come back here and put all that knowledge to work,” Robin says.
The resort offers lots of activities year-round. Aside from skiing and snowboarding, there’s hiking and snow-shoeing, a wildlife interpretive center, and in the summer, there are sightseeing gondola rides and a good chance you’ll spot a grizzly bear from your perch.
They’ve expanded the dining offerings at the lodge, including a sushi bar, Kuma Yama, that might seem out of place in a rustic Canadian ski resort, but works perfectly owing to its winning combination of quality ingredients and culinary craftsmanship. They’re negotiating with Parks Canada to sustainably expand the resort’s terrain.
Your newest ski friends offer guided tours
Lake Louise has 4,200 acres of skiable terrain.
Courtesy of Travel Alberta
“We come from the perspective that it’s such a privilege to be able to operate ski area in a national park. That underpins everything that we do and everything that we try to offer,” says Kimberley.
They’ve organized a group of volunteers called “Ski Friends” to conduct guided tours, imparting knowledge about local wildlife, vegetation, conservation and heritage.
As they continue to balance a thriving business with family and the demands of operating within a national park, Kimberley and Robin remain Lake Louise evangelists.
“There’s just something about this place. We’ve been here since we were born. It’s in our blood. It’s in our DNA. We love it here. When the opportunity presented itself to come back and set the path forward for the next many years and decades, we jumped on it because it’s somewhere that we love,” Robin says.
Where to stay
This resort has a lovely view of the lake.
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
There’s a lovely ice-skating area and a seasonal weekends-only outdoor “Ice Bar.” Inside is a lobby bar that overlooks the lake, a few different restaurants, shops, a spa, indoor pool and spa, a takeaway coffee joint and almost everything you need to brave the great outdoors. (111 Lake Louise Drive, Lake Louise, AB T0L 1E0, Canada; +1 403-522-3511)
A Relais & Châteaux property since 1990, the property’s relaxed elegance is on display in every corner, whether next to the stone fireplace at the après-ski Sir Norman Lounge or in the 24 seat Fondue Stübli (meaning small, cozy room) which serves a selection of Swiss-style fondues every evening. The property also boasts a massive spa, an indoor salt-water pool and a small, outdoor ice-skating rink. (200 Pipestone Road, Lake Louise, AB T0L 1E0, Canada; +1 403-522-3989)
The most singular accommodation
The main lodge and three cabins can accommodate a maximum of 22 guests, and there is no electricity or running water, though any and all needs are seen to by the attentive staff. There are three homemade meals a day, fresh bread baked daily on the premises and plenty of free time to do absolutely nothing. (1 Whitehorn Drive, Lake Louise, AB T0L 1E0, Canada; +1 403-522-1347)