Hiking or snowshoeing through the forest. Making snowmen and snow angels. Roasting s’mores as you warm up by the fire and breathe in the crisp cool air. Relaxing by the fireside with a book, or soaking in a jetted tub. Playing board games. Unplugging from the distractions and stresses of daily life. Dining on carefully prepared, Canadian-inspired cuisine.

A big part of the fun of travel is discovering new places, immersing yourself in new experiences, and getting away from your usual routine. You can enjoy all kinds of wonderful new experiences, even while travelling close to home. The Charming Inns and Small Hotels of Alberta have their doors open, offering guests unique and distinctive accommodations for a memorable holiday getaway.

The Charming Inns and Small Hotels of Alberta – a dozen independent Alberta hotels situated in and near the mountains and the prairies – celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2020. Member hotels are rated three stars or higher by the Canadian Automobile Association, and all are accessible by car.

“Nearly all of our inns and small hotels are equipped to support families,” says Charming Inns and Small Hotels of Alberta president, Gair Fryers. “We know that maintaining social distance is a priority for many families right now, so we have some wonderful options to rent out entire cabins. Cabins are tranquil, private and a safe escape for families during COVID-19. These types of rentals can be found at Baker Creek Mountain Resort, Juniper Hotel, Overlander Mountain Lodge, Mount Engadine Lodge and the Prairie Creek Inn. There is nothing more important than family. At places like Overlander Mountain Lodge and Mount Engadine Lodge, there is only Wi-Fi in the main lodge, so it creates an environment for families to disconnect with technology and reconnect with each other.

“And for those families who want to bring their four-legged friends along for a getaway, we have many options that are pet-friendly! This includes the Georgetown Inn, The Prairie Creek Inn, Heartwood Inn & Spa, the Juniper Hotel, Mount Engadine Lodge and Baker Creek Mountain Resort.”

COVID-19 measures are in place at all Charming Inns and Small Hotels of Alberta properties.

To celebrate its 20th anniversary, the Charming Inns and Small Hotels of Alberta is offering a 15 per cent credit for hotel gift certificates purchased through www.charminginnsofalberta.com

Georgetown Inn, Canmore

Located on Bow Valley Trail close to the heart of downtown Canmore, the Georgetown Inn offers guests a very comfortable stay in a traditional English-style hotel.

Rated Canmore’s most romantic hotel on TripAdvisor, the Georgetown’s guest rooms are lovely and distinctively decorated. Curl up by the fireplace as you admire the mountain views or soak your cares away in the spacious freestanding bathtub.

Winter at the Georgetown Inn - Photo Courtesy Georgetown Inn

Winter at the Georgetown Inn – Photo Courtesy Georgetown Inn

Built in 1993, the Georgetown Inn has undergone a number of renovations over the years. You’re never far from history, though – for example, if you stroll through the hotel’s upper floor you’ll notice a hallway filled with posters of big-name movies filmed in the Bow Valley and the Rocky Mountains.

The Georgetown Inn’s family-style restaurant, the Miner’s Lamp Pub, offers hearty food and plenty of space to physically distance in the dining room as well as a large patio and encourages takeout. The Miner’s Lamp Pub is chock full of Canmore history, including photos of local mountain legends and all kinds of skiing and mountaineering memorabilia. “Everything here was donated by locals – everything has a story,” says restaurant manager Jason Hannigan. “We try and keep the pub traditional. You’ll never see TVs here – we promote more of a social vibe. You can come in and actually have a conversation. And we’ve got great food.” The Miner’s Lamp Pub has won the best Fish and Chips in the Bow Valley award for the 11th year in a row from The Rocky Mountain Outlook.

Canmore is a great year-round destination. With the arrival of winter, there is plenty to do – cross country skiing and fat biking at the Canmore Nordic Centre, downhill skiing in Kananaskis and Banff, snowshoeing, going dog sledding, or simply exploring on foot. Canmore has a variety of interesting boutique shops and museums, including the Canmore Museum and Geoscience Centre and the Canadian Rockies Earth Science Resource Centre.

Heartwood Inn & Spa, Drumheller

People typically visit Drumheller for dinosaurs and rich history. At the same time, it’s a quiet destination where you can relax, slow down, and enjoy the spectacular, otherworldly scenery of the badlands.

This is what awaits you at Heartwood Inn & Spa, located on the edge of downtown Drumheller. Owned by Zeke and Patrice Wolf, the pet-friendly Heartwood Inn offers “a more personalized stay. It’s a quiet getaway,” Zeke says.

Heartwood Inn & Spa

The charming Heartwood Inn & Spa. Photo Heartwood Inn & Spa

The main building is adults-only, with eight beautifully decorated rooms, perfect for a romantic (or any kind of) getaway. Some rooms include a jetted tub for two, or an oversized walk-in shower; and natural gas insert fireplace. For families, there are two cosy, comfy guest houses with full kitchen, oversized jetted tub or rain shower, and private yard with barbecue.

To ensure guests’ comfort and safety, Heartwood Inn & Spa has beefed up its already robust cleaning protocols.

What else can you do in the Badlands area? A lot! If you are a golfer (of any level), Heartwood Inn & Spa offers added value to your stay, as Zeke is a golf instructor and delights in giving pointers to guests to help them improve their swing. The back nine at the Dinosaur Trail Golf and Country Club is built into the badlands, and “when people go on that back nine they are just in awe of the scenery,” Zeke says.

Drumheller is a great getaway, the Wolfs say. There is biking, hiking and other ways to explore the outdoors. Red Deer River Adventures offers a variety of rentals, including kayak, canoe, e-bikes, snowshoes and skates.   “We have miles and miles of pathway system,” Patrice says. “You can get on your bikes here, and it’s like you’re riding on the moon – it’s just beautiful.”

Celebrating the history of life on earth, the world-class Royal Tyrrell of Palaeontology is a must-see while in Drumheller. Royal Tyrrell – which marks its 35th anniversary in 2020 – is as impressive as the dinosaurs that once roamed Alberta’s badlands. Advance booking required during COVID restrictions.

Learn about coal miners, ‘devil’s dust’ and Drumheller Valley’s colourful coal mining past at Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site. This industrial heritage site preserves the last of 139 mines that operated in the Drumheller Valley from 1911-1979, when ‘Coal was King.’ Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site is typically open for the season into December and reopens in May and tickets must be prebooked.

Mount Engadine Lodge, Kananaskis Country

Mount Engadine Lodge with a dusting of snow. Photo Credit William Lambert

Mount Engadine Lodge with a dusting of snow. Photo Credit William Lambert

Mount Engadine Lodge is a luxurious backcountry-style lodge offering a comfortable year-round wilderness experience. Explore the area by going nature watching, hiking, mountain biking or fat biking, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing – or simply relaxing by the fireside. Stay in a lodge room or suite, cabin, snug glamping tent or yurt. Mount Engadine Lodge will fuel your adventure with an abundance of amazing food (two-course breakfast, packed lunch, afternoon tea and three-course dinner all included in the cost of your overnight stay). Guests dine at individual tables, appropriately spaced, in the dining room; and those who prefer can choose in-room dining.

Crandell Mountain Lodge, Waterton Lakes National Park

At historic Crandell Mountain Lodge, you’re close to the centre of Waterton and close to nature too. Crandell Mountain Lodge has 17 comfortable rooms, including kitchenette and full kitchen suites, well suited for families. For a romantic getaway, there is the Bear’s Den, with king bed, in-room two-person jetted tub, separate full bathroom, and mini-bar fridge. Crandell Mountain Lodge closes in mid-October and re-opens for the 2021 season on May 20th.

The other Charming Inns and Small Hotels of Alberta are:

A Bear & Bison Inn, Canmore

Baker Creek Mountain Resort, Lake Louise

Juniper Hotel, Banff

Overlander Mountain Lodge, East Jasper

Riverside Chateau, Bragg Creek

The Crossing at Ghost River, Cochrane

The Prairie Creek Inn, Rocky Mountain House


The writer was a guest of Georgetown Inn, Heartwood Inn and Spa, Mount Engadine Lodge and Crandell Mountain Lodge. They did not review this article.