Snowbound #1: Stay & Play @ Calabogie

It’s time to start thinking snow! In the two years I’ve been here with Calabogie Peaks, there’s one thing I’ve learned: you guys LOVE snow. Even a video of snow falling on the mountain a couple of weeks ago caught your attention. Everyone behind the scenes has been busy getting hotel packages, Snow School programs, terrain parks, ticket prices, and everything ready to rock for the day we officially open for the season. (And before the comments start rolling in, we have not yet set an official open date until we can set a true open date based on weather patterns, snowmaking, and more. That means when we open, we want to throw the gates back and let everyone enjoy the full mountain from day one!)
The goal with this series of posts we call Snowbound is to give you a heads up to what’s coming this season and how you can take advantage of terrific savings this winter, starting with our brand new hotel packages. We’ve had the honour of servings guests from Kingston, Toronto, New York, Connecticut, and beyond on a weekly basis. The big thing they like to do is mix relaxation with activities, so our theme for this year is to provide exactly that. Each of these hotel packages provides an opportunity to ski, dine, even take lessons for those who want to brush up on an old sport or try something new.

STAY & SKI
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We’ll start with a classic, perhaps the most popular hotel package we’ve ever offered. It’s simple: for every night you stay at the Calabogie Peaks Hotel, you get a free lift ticket to enjoy a day on the mountain. Starting at $84 per person (based on double occupancy), it’s the perfect deal for anyone who wants to ski first and sleep later.

CHRISTMAS VACATION
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Imagine 3 nights living the dream. Waking up in the morning and stepping onto the deck with a cup of hot coffee to watch the sun shine on the mountain, sitting with the family for breakfast at our Canthooks restaurant, shredding your way up and down The Peaks all day before returning for dinner to hear exciting tales of the day’s adventure. That’s what our new Christmas Vacation package is all about. Available exclusively from December 22nd until January 2nd, this minimum 3-night package provides breakfast, dinner, and lift tickets for the entire stay. All starting at $159 per person, per day (based on double occupancy).

LEARN TO SKI/BOARD
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Everyone has to start somewhere and we have a package for anyone looking to give this ultimate Canadian winter sport a shot. The Learn To Ski/Board package not only provides a stay in our hotel, but throws in a lift ticket and a lesson with our highly trained and experienced Snow School instructors. Starting at $127 per person (based on double occupancy), cross this goal off your bucket list and return home feeling ready to take on the world.

HOT DATES, HOT RATES
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There are only two things that should be hot this time of year: the thermostat and hotel deals. Our Hot Dates, Hot Rates page of hidden gems holds some sweet surprises, so be sure to bookmark it and check regularly. For example, you can save 50% off any 2-night stay in November. Or if you’re planning on a 3-night midweek stay, take advantage of Resorts of Ontario’s Free Tuesdays promotion taking place right now until the end of November.
For more great deals on your next winter stay, be sure to keep an eye on our Stay & Play page. Next time, we’ll reveal our exciting new Snow School programs, including the return of the Parent & Tot lessons, mastering the cross track, even taking the first step to become a ski instructor.

Seeing Is Believing: The 2015 Fall Colours

As a hiker, it’s been a source of great pride to see so many of you taking an interest in coming out here to Calabogie and walking the trails these past couple of weeks. Combined with the impressive crowds during our Thanksgiving weekend Fall Colours Chairlift Rides and the number of hiking maps downloaded from our website, people have taken advantage of the weather to witness nature in perhaps its finest display.

When I tell people I’m a hiker, the first reaction is that I must be a hardcore, stocked-to-the-gills-with-official-Nike-gear kind of hiker. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I hike in jeans, strap a water bottle to my hip, bring a few quick and easy items in a backpack (couple of granola bars, a change of shirt, a towel, and a cell phone in case of emergencies), grab my walking stick and I’m off. I like to clarify this because while you can be a dedicated, athletic hiker (or a cross country runner, as was the case in my youth), the beauty of this activity is that it’s the definition of casual. Which is exactly what we saw from tweets shared with us over the past couple of weekends.

Now with my three-month old son to enrich my life, I secure him across my chest and bring him along to experience the trails with me in the hope it will become a tradition as he slowly develops the ability to walk with me. Years ago, it was the solitude and time away from crowds, deadlines, even responsibilities. A hike was my time to myself with nothing but my thoughts and some squirrels to keep me company. Times have changed and as a dad I know understand it’s also about getting away from the distractions we take for granted: pulling the kids away from the TV and spending some quality time outside, sharing an hour with someone special for a little hand holding under the canopy, snapping some amazing panoramas with your grandparents… the possibilities are endless.

It’s also about the accomplishment when you reach the trail’s destination, be it the top of the mountain or the gorgeous vista of Eagle’s Nest. It’s quality time in a place no video game, painting, or poem can reproduce and it’s why you have to see it to believe it.

Thanks for stopping by this weekend and I look forward to see everyone back on the trails next Autumn… and on the slopes this Winter.

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Falling In Love With Autumn

As a growing hiking enthusiast, this may be the best time of year to charge up the camera batteries, strap on a backpack, and grab your walking stick for a journey into the woods. Not only because the cooler temperatures have basically eliminated the bugs (which were quite nasty this year, though the trails about The Peaks were actually quite hospitable to those of us who prefer not to become bug food), but to experience the fall colours firsthand.
It’s something we take for granted and not only because it signals the end of one season and the slow approach of another. It’s a natural event unique to our part of the world, a kind of gentle fireworks display marking the approach of something bigger to come. Timing is key to the perfect experience because this is not something spread out across many weeks and it all depends on weather conditions from weeks before. If it gets too cold too early, the leaves shift into duller colours and quickly fall before we can finish tying our shoes. Too warm and the leaves remain green until a sudden frost hits the air and we’re literally looking at half the time to absorb this occasion. Plus some areas change faster than others for no reason whatsoever. Mother Nature makes us work for it, that’s for sure, but when the time comes and you’re in the right place at the right time, it’s magical. I love it!

The beauty of sitting in the midst of the Ontario Highlands is the wide open expanses of fall colours spread across rolling hills. Take the view from Eagle’s Nest, for example, a local favourite. It’s an impressive view at any time of year, but it becomes a magnificent array of yellows, oranges, and browns as far as the eye can see. Only the view from a plane or the space station can beat it.

While I haven’t been able to get outside as often as I would have liked these past few months, the reason is also why I’m especially looking forward to getting onto trails like the Manitou Mountain Trail and Skywalk with my three-month old son. His vision is acute enough that he enjoys looking out the window when it’s all green trees and blue skies, so imagine what he’ll see with the perfect blend of Autumn. It’s a similar mindset fellow blogger, Michelle Kobzik, had last week when she took her five-month old to the top of Dickson Mountain.
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If hiking is not your thing or simply out of your realm of possibility, we can help with that. Our annual Fall Colours Chairlift Rides are taking place this Thanksgiving weekend between 11am and 4pm. Catch a ride to the top of the mountain for only $10 per person (or $30 for a group of four) and walk your way down along Ole K&P or stay a while at the Top Hut and relax before catching a ride back down. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention joining us for lunch or sticking around for a Thanksgiving dinner at our Canthooks restaurant. It’s a time to give thanks for friends and family; why not take time to appreciate the world around us too?

Experiencing the Valley (September 2015 Edition)

September means two things for families: back to school and county fairs. We’re not going to talk about the former because it’s more fun to talk about the latter, plus a few other great events and activities taking place in the Ottawa Valley this month. Today, we’re going to give you a preview for six must-see attractions just a hop, skip and a jump away from The Peaks.

2015 ICF Freestyle Canoe World Championships
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Where: Beachburg, ON (@ Wilderness Tours)
When: August 30 to September 5
Website: http://worldfreestylekayakchampionships.com/
For the third time in a row, Wilderness Tours in Beachburg hosts the ICF Freestyle Canoe World Championships with competitors from around the world pitting themselves against the Ottawa River and each other to prove who is the best with the paddles.

Expo Shawville Fair
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Where: Shawville, ON
When: September 3 to 7
Website: http://www.shawvillefair.ca/index.html
There’s only so much room to mention country fairs, but this one should definitely be on your radar because a headline performer is David Wilcox, a blues legend who played here at Calabogie at last year’s Blues & Ribfest. Add to that the demolition derby, a midway and petting zoo, this fair features all the classics.

Grand National Mud Drag Races
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Where: Beachburg, ON
When: September 5 & 6
Website: http://ranchlakepull.com/
If the demolition derby at the Shawville Fair peaked your interest, this should be a must-see on your September-to-do list. Including a snowmobile race, it’s a full weekend of flying mud and roaring engines. Bringing a change of shirt.

Renfrew Fair
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Where: Renfrew, ON
When: September 9 to 13
Website: http://www.renfrewfair.com/
Only 30 minutes away from Calabogie, the Renfrew Fair has been entertaining adults and kids since 1853 with no signs of slowing down. A true farming expo with livestock and agriculture displays and competitions, plus amusement park rides and races, this fair shows what it truly means to live the country life.

Taste of the Valley
Where: Renfrew, ON
When: September 19
Website: http://www.ottawavalley.travel/Events_and_Festivals/Farmers_Markets/Taste_of_the_Valley_-_Renfrew***7409.html
A massive sampling of everything Renfrew County has to offer, the Taste of the Valley also displays locally made products and crafts. Bring your appetite for good food and fine goods.

NEAT In The Woods
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Where: Burnstown, ON
When: September 25 to 27
Website: http://www.neatinthewoods.com/
Only a 20-minute drive away from The Peaks, this brand new music festival includes a full afternoon/evening of live music on Saturday and a collection of fun events the rest of the weekend, including a 300 piece game of musical chairs, a bike race, scavenger hunt, and sac race.

Extra-Curricular Fun @ Blues & Ribfest

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As I write this, we’re a little more than 48 hours away from the start of our 5th Annual Class Axe Guitars Calabogie Blues & Ribfest (phew, that’s a mouthful) and the whole resort is bustling like elves at Christmas. Do you have your tickets yet? Today, I wanted to take a moment to tell you about the other activities taking place on site this weekend to keep you entertained between watching great performances and licking rib sauce off your fingers.

Periscope
If you haven’t heard about Periscope yet, it’s a free live video streaming app that’s taking the social media world by storm. And seeing as I’m the social media guy for Calabogie Peaks, it’s only fair that I play around with a new toy this weekend. We’ll be showcasing various live performances from some of our artists this weekend and you can sign up for Periscope or catch the updates direct from our Twitter feed.

Parasailing
Think you can watch the stage from high above Calabogie Lake? It’s a possibility with the return of Sky-Mazing Parasailing and they’re taking bookings for Blues & Ribfest weekend. Reserve your ride now at 705-457-8359, plus if you book your parasail ride by Thursday, August 13th, you’ll be entered for a draw to win your ride for free.
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Chair Lift Rides
Another great way to see the action from up high but without bringing your bathing suit, we’ll be running the chair lift again during Blues & Ribfest weekend from Noon to 5:00pm on Saturday and Sunday. Take in the sights as you rise to the top of Dickson Mountain, maybe even take in a hike to Eagle’s Nest and stretch those legs after dining on some ribs.

Ribber Voting

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This is the Blues & RIBFEST and that means a weekend of non-stop ribs, BBQ chicken, and more, but it’s also a contest between our three ribbers: Route 55, Horn Dawgs, and Gator BBQ. This year, you can vote for your favourite ribber by text message, so keep your eyes peeled for the signs on how you can vote for the ribber that filled your belly better than any other.

Rib Valet
Speaking of ribs, we introduced our rib valet service last year and it was a huge success. Now it’s back for another year. Pull on up to the front gate and put in your order to bring home fresh off the grill ribs from any of our three ribbers.

Fireworks!
Last, but not least, there’s the fireworks popping over the mountain. Next to Canada Day, you’ll never find a bigger fireworks display in Calabogie than you will on Saturday night after our headliner, Keb’ Mo’ wraps up on stage. Whether you’re on our VIP access only deck or kicking back at your camper, it’s a great way to enjoy another year at the Calabogie Blues & Ribfest.

Why Choose? The True Spirit of the Mountain Man Music Festival

It wouldn’t be summer without music festivals and it’s not like we’ve been joining the bandwagon here. If anything, I’d like to say we’ve been one of the early leaders in local, community-driven festivals and this year did not stray from that goal. But this year was different. This year was, shall we say, a little risky. And we’re happy to say that it was totally worth it.
If you had a chance to join us over the June 26-28th weekend, then you know exactly what I’m talking about: the Mountain Man Music Festival. Every one has its theme (OK, most of them do) and this one was very unique: three stages playing non-stop music all weekend long featuring a variety of genres played by local artists. It was like a gallery of undiscovered Ottawa Valley talents mix with a healthy spoonful of crowd favourites churning out reggae, blues, folk, country, R&B, and a little something extra in between. Needless to say, pulling off a festival like this was a bit of a challenge and came with some risks. There’s generally very little runoff between so many genres of music and with no major headliner to take the spotlight, there was no guarantee people would make the drive to spend the day or stay the weekend.
I’m happy to say we were pleasantly surprised by both the turnout and the reactions from the crowd. It may even be safe to say we’ve already accumulated some fans. (What should we call them: mountaineers?)

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A summer sunset behind the outdoor stage as the Steve Marriner Band plays on into the night. Photo courtesy of Lori Hoddinott.

What was nice about Mountain Man was the relaxed atmosphere about it all. You could enjoy a full band on the outdoor stage – a brand new and permanent addition to The Peaks, I might add, made with help from our sponsor, Renfrew Home Hardware – or take in a smaller venue with a personal touch upstairs in Black Donalds on the Ottawa Blues Society stage. Personally, there were some nice surprises even I wasn’t expecting and I’ve already found myself shopping online for The Riot Police and Lucas Haneman. In fact, Lucas was probably the breakout, slap-across-the-face performer of the entire weekend, in my opinion. Judge for yourself with this video of just his second song from Friday night’s show. (Apologies in advance for some of the audio in some parts as this was all captured with my Canon without any special recording gear.)
And of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t make mention of the other fantastic performers: Jeff Rogers, Dan Livingstone, Andria Simone, Soulstack, Richard Martel, and more. So now that we have that one done and over, you’d think we could rest for the summer, right? Wrong, because there’s the always-popular sensation we call Calabogie Blues & Ribfest. That means we take a couple of days to rest, catch our breath, and dive right back into the swing of things.
See you in August!

The Call of the Mountain Path

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Calabogie Peaks Social Media Guy here. I’m going to get a little personal today (but don’t worry, it’s nothing strange, just something that’s very near and dear to my heart). I’m a sucker for hiking. It calls to me and has done so more and more over the past few months. When I started working here back in November of 2013, the view from the base of the mountain took my breath away. Under normal circumstances, you’d think I would have been riding the chairlift as soon as the motor started running or tied up my boot laces post haste and started marching… but it’s not as simple as that.
Everyone has their unique challenges in life. Obstacles they must overcome as part of a personal conflict, be it mental, physical, or both. My employment here at The Peaks ended up being more than a fantastic professional opportunity, but a personal challenge that would take 18 months of training, perseverance and determination. Within days of sitting at this desk, I knew I was going to hike directly up the mountain and see the view from the other side. Not only that, I was going to document it and share it with all you fine readers.
Last weekend, I did exactly that. Starting from the base, I marched my way up the Juniper Junction’s ski trail, connected to Whistlin’ Paddy, and pushed up to the top of the Lakeview chairlift. There’s a reason why I’m sharing this with you beyond good marketing for our fantastic trails and it’s not just because it’s been at least 10 years since my last big hike – my right foot is filled with eight screws and lined with a metal plate locking my heel in place along with continuous nerve damage sustained from a nasty accident years ago. Four-and-a-half years ago at this time, I was completely dependent on walking with crutches or a cane undergoing physical therapy and here I am planning to reach not only the peak of the mountain but the peak of my recovery. It was going to be a painful, demanding experience and after months of planning and preparation (all in secret, as I kept all of this from everyone here in the Front Office and all my friends and family – save for my incredibly supportive wife), last Friday was finally the day.
With my trusty walking stick, binoculars, two bottles of water, a handful of granola bars, a camera over my shoulder, a cellphone in my pocket and a GoPro strapped to my chest, I set out to document this challenge. Have a look!

This is what hiking is all about. It’s not just the fantastic views, the appreciation of nature’s roots surrounding you, or the tranquility of a life beyond humankind. It’s the exhilaration of success when you stand on the tip of a giant rock overlooking a valley as wide as the Earth itself. I’ve missed that feeling after all these years, to be standing in a place where we are the minority, experiencing a moment only I can witness thanks to my own physical and mental efforts. Even with the bugs! I have the same feeling as I did when I completed a marathon, just without the desire to collapse on the ground or feeling like my lungs wanted to relocate to a bigger apartment. What made that moment even better was the realization that I was never expected to experience it again. It was to be nothing more than a memory of a time long gone. Not anymore and I couldn’t be more proud of myself.
This was my challenge to myself and everyone has theirs. Call it your bucket list, a New Year’s resolution, whatever it is in the back of your mind. While I could settle with the self-satisfaction of my own accomplishment, I want to take this to the next level. If my story can encourage at least one more person to overcome their challenge, that success will be all the more sweeter.
What is your challenge and how will you overcome it? Share it with us and let’s help others feel the confidence and willpower to #challengeyourself.

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Meet Dante: Goose Chaser

If you own property anywhere in Canada, let alone Eastern Ontario, you know all about geese. Sure, they’re a Canadian treasure gracing our golden dollar coins, but that’s because they have a great marketing team. The reality is a lot messier as these transients tend to drop their luggage anywhere they please without a care or a concern for anyone else who follows. All it takes is a small flock of these frequent flyers to turn your well-kept greens into a spotted eyesore, making them Public Enemy #1 in our books.
It’s a fact every golf course must face when they return from their annual pilgrimage to the southern States. Every year, we hum and we haw on what’s the best way to keep these flying hobos and their litter off our nine holes. There are easy ways to deal with the problem, yes, but we wanted to find a convenient and easy way to handle this matter without resorting to drastic measures.
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Meet the solution, a shepherd mix dog named Dante. Geese – and birds in general – do not like dogs for the sheer reason that dogs LOVE birds. Chasing them, that is. Brought to us by her owner (and simultaneously our Hotel Manager, Joost Asselbergs), Dante has already worked miracles in the two short weeks she’s been on staff… and she is considered part of the team. While her title is unofficial, as Calabogie Peaks’ resident goose chaser she also works part-time as our cheerleader with people lining up to take her on patrol around Ironwoods in search of those hollow-boned trespassers. The beauty too is that she never really has to do anything – her mere presence alone upsets them, causing them to flap away unhappily squawking something about their squatting rights. Plus she tends to help out with landscaping as well when there’s a loose stick around.
On her downtime, she parks herself in the shade at the back of the main hotel or chilling out in one of the cottages with Joost as they plot out their plan of attack for the next day. Not to worry, Dante has no interest in the restaurant or any of the public areas frequented by our guests. After all, she’s a professional goose chaser and like all professional dogs, she doesn’t have time to goof around. Don’t let that tail wagging fool you. It’s hard work to defend these greens from dark-billed troublemakers and all she asks for in return is a pat on the head and a treat. I just wish I could get a treat at the end of my day.

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Dante gets ready to get to work for another shift of goose chasing. Oh, and there’s Joost too. He helps.
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The key to her task is to chase away all geese without tearing up the greens… which she does a top grade job, I must say.
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There is no path she won’t check, no bush she won’t sniff to root out every last goose on the premises.
One of the best qualities about Dante? She’s a rescue dog and there’s nothing better than giving a pup a second chance at a happy life. When you’re looking at adopting in the future, remember to consider adopting a rescue dog from your local chapter of the Humane Society or other recognized pet adoption

No More Excuses! Get Ready For Next Season

CalabogieAdventures_banner_v2The snow is quickly melting and while many of us are probably putting our skis away and taking out our summer gear there is one last winter deal that you do not want to miss out on.

Skiing can be expensive; although once you have the gear all you have to pay for is the pass. But if you ski every weekend it can add up real fast. That’s why Calabogie Peaks is offering a great deal where you can put down a $49 deposit before April 15th and then pay the balance in mid-September, which allows you to lock down the lowest price in advance. It also makes it a lot more affordable when September rolls around and you start dusting off those skis.
If you purchase the Ultimate Seasons Pass and ski 9 times then you’ve made getting the pass worth it. If you ski more than that, it’s as if you are skiing for free! I enjoy having a season’s pass because then if I only ski for a couple hours I won’t feel guilty for leaving and not have gotten my money’s worth of turns. It also won’t make you feel guilty if you just feel like sitting and socializing in the pub in between runs.

I highly recommend purchasing an Ultimate Seasons Pass before April 15th. If you are sitting there thinking, “I wish I would have skied more this year” then this is the perfect opportunity for you. Once you buy the pass you will have all the motivation you need to get out there as much as you can. Skiing is a great winter activity to keep you active, healthy and outdoors.

No more excuses, make sure next winter is your best ski season yet and lock down your seasons pass now!

It’s Mardi Gras Time!!

CalabogieAdventures_banner_v2In case you didn’t know, Calabogie Peaks hosts a Mardi Gras every year during the March Break. This years’ Mardi Gras will take place on Saturday, March 21st, 2015. Most years, the weather has been so nice out that you will feel like you are spring skiing and this year is guaranteed as the first day of Spring is March 20th!
Even if you don’t ski or snowboard, Mardi Gras is a great event to check out because they have an annual puddle jump and live music which provides great entertainment while soaking up some vitamin D and enjoying some freshly barbecued food.
Don’t feel like skiing but still want to be active? You can rent snowshoes, cross-country skis, or go tubing while at The Peaks. There are activities for all ages during this festival. Whether you are a participant or a spectator, Mardi Gras is a great way to start off the Spring.

Adventures on Mountain, Lake, Land… and Blog!