PRIDDIS, Alta. — As my spouse and I drove heading west of Calgary one Thursday afternoon, I fancied a decent meal and a good night sleep somewhere in the rolling foothills.
The fast life in the city can get to you and a respite from the numbing ambiance of the daily grind can dull one’s spirit and maim one’s soul.
Even a day of break from what’s familiar, what’s routine, can make a difference if you find the right sanctuary to nurture your tired mind and body.
I just wanted a brief romantic seclusion that would make me forget I live in a constantly moving city, where its denizens continually hop to stay on top of the game.
And that’s what an overnight stay at Azuridge, Alberta’s first estate hotel atop the foothills rolling out to the Rockies, gave us and more.
Kristine Morrow, general manager of the luxurious hotel at the heart of a more than five-hectare estate, agrees city life has its way of bogging down the spirit.
“Calgarians are way too busy,” she said.
“They’re just so caught up in the hustle and bustle of getting everything done and then when they get home they don’t even have enough time to give themselves the care that they need.”
While some people can easily turn their mind off from the hassle of a busy life, others — me included — can’t just do it on demand.
I need to be physically embedded in a space that screams seclusion, but at the same time oozes with romantic bliss.
Azuridge, which got its name from the fusion of the gem Azurite and the word ridge, surprised us as we entered its gate and our vehicle disappeared into the woods where we found the dramatic buildings towering against the dusk sky of Priddis.
I couldn’t help but gush, when an English butler greeted us and brought us to the corner premium signature suite Aquamarine, where the stunning view of the estate was waiting to be blissfully enjoyed.
The luxurious and spacious suite offered every inch of comfort but what got us more excited was the Jacuzzi, walk-in shower, heated floors and the option for spa services in our own private space.
The hotel that screams opulence whichever way you turn has 13 guest suites in total and can accommodate up to a maximum of 56 guests, so even the 27,000 square feet of the meticulously designed indoors would never feel crowded.
As I stood in the massive balcony outside the suite, what sizzled in my mind was the possibility of walking the vast property in the evening with hot chocolate in hand and never encountering any other souls — just my spouse — searching for a serene, lazy, romantic walk.
Morrow said Azuridge’s relative proximity to the city and its very private setting are the big selling points of the estate hotel built to celebrate its magnificent surroundings, with western Canadian design and materials.
“Seclusion for sure is probably our No.1 selling point other than of course what product and services we bring to the table.”
“Once they get passed that gate we can lock it and make the place extremely private, nobody else can pass that unless they have the key or they know the code which we change continually.”
But before we could dash to the dark woods and get lost in a rendezvous of sorts, executive chef Alois Multerer’s table came calling.
We started off with a cocktail of Louisiana crawfish, New Brunswick lobster in mango and avocado, followed by roasted butternut squash soup with green curry and coconut crème.
My spouse is allergic to lobster and Multerer quickly fixed that problem by serving prawns instead.
The main dish Alberta lamb loin and beef tender loin marchand de vin sauce, red beet gnocchi thyme and truffle scented fava beans, appeared on our table and it was a feast for the senses.
I wanted a decent meal and I got a real gourmet fare.
Crowning the chef’s culinary creation was bittersweet chocolate marquise ginger snap and white chocolate sauce raspberry sorbet served on an edible miniature bowl.
By the time we finished the fabulous meal, I was ready to retire to our suite, probably enjoy a soak in the two-person Jacuzzi, but the idea of hanging out by an indoor wood fireplace was too romantic to resist.
Azuridge is new in the market, but it definitely is creating a niche of providing luxury that is unpretentious and effortless.
As it stands, three dominating markets are in Azuridge’s card: weddings, corporate retreats and personal retreats.
“We should consider staying here for our wedding anniversary,” my spouse told me as we soaked in a bath before we retired to our king bed for that much needed restful sleep that has been eluding me for a while.
When morning broke, I peeked through the drapes and I was greeted by the gleaming freshness of the woods bathing in the radiant sun.
I knew I was refreshed and ready to face the real world again, less than an hour east of this hidden Priddis gem.