CMH announces $8.4 million renovation of the beloved Bobbie Burns Lodge

CMH announces $8.4 million renovation of the beloved Bobbie Burns Lodge

Featured Image: Brodie Smith

When Johann Wolfgang “Hans” Gmoser first moved to Canada in 1951, the vast and untouched terrain available to climb and ski inspired the Austrian-born mountaineer to develop an entirely new way to explore and guide in the Great White North. In 1959, Gmoser incorporated Canadian Mountain Holidays (now CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures) and transported his first group of guests to the Canadian high-alpine by helicopter in 1965. Fast Forward nearly 60 years, CMH now operates 12 lodges across a three-million-acre tenure, creating life-changing mountain experiences for every guest who steps out of their Bell 212 and 407 helicopters. In its latest effort to further elevate the experience that is CMH, the heli-skiing operation, along with its parent company Alterra Mountain Company, announced an $8.4 million renovation plan for the Bobbie Burns lodge–scheduled to break ground at the end of this month.

“I think [this renovation] speaks to the new ownership group and their willingness to invest in the product, [Alterra Mountain Company] is a big driver of this,” says Jeremy Levitt, president of CMH. “We’ve been pushing this for years but now with this new ownership group, they’ve been the ones to enable us to do it.”

Located outside of Parson, British Columbia, the Bobbie Burns lodge feels like it’s a world away but is actually one of the easiest lodges to get to from Calgary. Having the chance to make the trek myself last week, the lodge is a gorgeous three-hour bus ride from the airport through the breathtaking Canadian Rockies to the pickup pad in Parson. From there, the lodge is just a 10-minute helicopter ride into the backcountry. The lodge’s easy access combined with its massive rolling glacier terrain has made it one of the most popular lodges at CMH since it was built in 1981. Offering year-round experiences–heli-skiing in the winter and heli-accessed hiking in the summer–the ever-increasing use of the lodge has made it the perfect candidate for renovation.

At certain times of the year, the Northern Lights can be seen right from the Bobbie Burns lodge. PHOTO: Courtesy of CMH/Public Works.

“The redevelopment of the Bobbie Burns lodge is part of CMH’s ongoing commitment to continue to elevate both the guest and employee experience,” says Levitt.

The renovation of the Burns is the largest project CMH has undertaken in nearly two decades, since the development of the Monashees lodge in 2002. Along with giving the existing 22 guest rooms a luxurious face lift and transforming 18 of the double twin rooms to single queen rooms, an entirely new wing will be added on to the backcountry lodge. This fresh new space will add 16 additional rooms–10 for guests, six for staff–to accommodate the new four-person private heli-skiing program at Bobbie Burns.

With the Burns being in such high demand–heli-skiing trips at this location sell out 18 months in advance–the expansion of the lodge allows for more guests to experience the massive vertical and glacier skiing of Bobbie Burns. Along with the lodge expansion, CMH is investing in a brand-new Bell 407 helicopter dedicated solely to the private program and expanding the heli-shack that houses the operation’s steel birds. An additional pilot, engineer and guides will also be hired to support the new program.

While the private program amenities service a lucky few, the renovations to the lodge are transforming just about every corner of the space for every guest to revel in, including an upgraded spa facility with an additional massage room and steam room to meet the CMH Wellness gold standard and a new, dedicated games room in close vicinity to the lounge and dining area. Taking inspiration from the natural surroundings of the lodge, Douglas Fir wood will be used throughout the renovated building, as well as stone and metal elements for a sleek, rustic-modern design.

“There’s this old tradition at CMH, where the founder in the ’60s made sure the rooms were very spartan and would put in lightbulbs that didn’t work so well to encourage everyone to get out into the common spaces and make friends and be with the staff,” says Levitt. “That’s a great idea, it has enchanted people for the last 54 years but I think the next generation of guests not only want great skiing but a great lodge experience. We have a great lodge experience but this is taking it to the next level.”

Bobbie Burns is known for its massive amount of vertical skiing. PHOTO: Brad White.

On top of the $8.4 million CMH is investing in the Bobbie Burns lodge, another $1.2 million has been allocated for terrain maintenance and run development–half of which is going into the Burns’ tenure to support the heli-skiing program as well as access to and development of the lodge. Focused on glading, spacing and brushing, the skiing at Bobbie Burns will be better than ever, which after just spending five days frothing over the terrain, is hard to imagine. So, whether you’ve been coming to the Burns for years, or you’ve just booked your first trip, the redevelopment–and the ambitious glacial terrain–of the Bobbie Burns lodge will absolutely blow your mind come December 2019.

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