Posted: Aug 4, 2008 9:24am ET
My family and I took our annual pilgrimage to the Canadian Rockies in July. Five days of hiking in backcountry is good for the soul, even if it includes one day of walking in a snowstorm that left between four to six inches of fresh powdery stuff on the ground above 6,500 feet. And, as usual, we kicked off our vacation with a stop at the Post Hotel, a Relais et Chateaux property in Lake Louise.
Andre and George Schwarz have run the small European-style hotel for 30 years, and have turned it into a luxurious outpost with a great restaurant that has received Wine Spectator’s Grand Award for its outstanding wine list. There’s also a wonderful pub-style restaurant with a lot of comfort food in a relaxed setting.
But after dinner, I was hankering after a good cigar. I figured I was going to have to go outside and sit on the patio because of Canada’s smoking laws. And, the last time I’d been at the Post, they had told me their smoking lounge had been shut down out of concerns over how to interpret the law. I won’t get into the details, but because Lake Louise is on federal park land, there are some exceptions to the law, and the smoking lounge was open for business. It has a glass door separating it from the main Post dining room.
I lit a 15-year-old Don Carlos No. 3, ordered a glass of 20-year-old Graham’s Tawney and sat contentedly puffing away in a big, plush leather chair. There are about 20 seats in the lounge, which has a low ceiling, a fireplace and a fully stocked humidor of fine Cubans: the inventory in July included Bolivars, Cohibas, Romeo y Julietas and Montecristos. The bar also had a full-range of American Bourbons and fine Single Malt Scotches. The Don Carlos supplied all its sweet, earthy leather notes, and I was in heaven.
Andre Schwarz came in the room and we sat chatting for nearly half an hour about the lodge, the winter ski season, the smoking laws, and whether or not the strength of the Canadian dollar had slowed the arrival of American tourists. (Not really, he said.) It was a great moment of sheer luxury before the trek into backcountry and five days of solid hiking. But my East Coast time clock finally caught up with me, and I had to say goodnight. I knew I’d be back next year.
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