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Banff Norquay

Chairlift speed dating success: Couple celebrates 2nd anniversary after meeting at Lifts of Love event

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Afsheen and David are celebrating two years as a couple, after meeting at Lifts of Love at Norquay on Valentine’s Day in 2016.

The couple hit it off right away at the event, pictured here at the Cascade Lodge at Norquay during Lifts of Love in 2016. 

They say that the best things happen when you step outside your comfort zone. And love is no exception – just ask Afsheen Javid and David Jager.

This Valentine’s Day, the couple celebrate their second anniversary after meeting in a very unique way in 2016: Norquay’s annual chairlift speed dating event, Lifts of Love, for skiers and riders to meet single strangers on the slopes.

When Afsheen and David attended, they expected to come away from the event with a funny story or two – instead they found instant connection and a highly compatible relationship.

“I was volunteering, so I wasn’t really intending to meet anyone myself,” Afsheen says.

But her friends had other ideas.

“My friend saw David in the lodge and thought we might be interested in each other. She approached him, pointed me out, and then he walked over to say hi. We started chatting and hit it off right away, and ended up hanging out for the rest of the night,” Afsheen says.

Afsheen lives in Banff and works in retail, while David lives in Calgary and works in construction – and he’s visited her every weekend since they met in 2016.

“It was very cool. The night after the event, he drove back out from Calgary for our first date. We had dinner at Coyote’s and it was really nice to get to know each other more,” Afsheen says.

Two years later, the couple is still going strong.

“We’re pretty thrilled. There’s an intellectual attraction between us, and we love hearing what each other has to say. He’s very sweet, he’s attractive, he has depth, he’s into volunteer work, and he’s an amazing guy,” Afsheen says.

So what does the couple have to say about the friend who brought them together?

“Whenever we hang out, she always makes a little joke and asks how we’re going,” Afsheen says. “I think I’ll buy her some Valentine’s flowers this year to thank her for the introduction.”

Speed dating, mountain style: Lifts of Love returns to Norquay (February 10, 2018)

Lifts of Love is a fresh take on speed dating where single strangers can take a chairlift ride, mingle and spend the evening on the slopes. Each ride on the chairlift is a speed date. Riding the lift in pairs, guests have just two or three minutes to see if there is a spark between them.

When the lift reaches the top, guests can choose to continue the conversation, or head back to the bottom and find someone new. The fun then continues with an Après Ski Mixer with live DJ at Norquay’s Lone Pine Pub.

So get ready to practise those powder day pick-up lines. Like Afsheen and David, you might meet someone special. Either way, you’ll have a great story to tell your friends the next day!

On the night of the event, check in starts at 6pm, speed dating kicks off at 7pm, and the après ski mixer gets underway at 9pm.

Tickets are available online at winter.banffnorquay.com/event/liftsoflove/ or at the door, priced at $35 (including lift ticket). Please note: season passes are not valid for this event.

Specials will be available on food and beverages. Leave your car at home – FREE shuttle bus transportation is available between Banff and Norquay for event guests!

Lifts of Love 2018: Event Details

Date: Wednesday February 10th, 2018
Location: Mt Norquay, Banff
Registration / Check-In Time: 6:00pm
Speed Dating Start Time: 7:00pm
Après Ski Mixer: 9:00pm (with live DJ in The Lone Pine Pub)

Two years later, the couple are still going strong. David has driven from Calgary to Banff to visit Afsheen every weekend since they met.

Bon appétit at 7,000ft: Starlight Dinner special events return for winter 2018

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The Starlight Dinner illuminates Norquay after dark at the Cliffhouse Bistro.

This winter, Norquay’s Starlight Dinner events return for two very special Saturday nights (January 27th and February 24th) – serving up an intimate, alpine-inspired dining experience, high above the town of Banff at 7,000ft elevation.

Guests will take a scenic starlight ride aboard the North American Chairlift, to reach the cozy Cliffhouse Bistro, perched high on the side of the mountain.

With starlit views across Banff National Park, a decadent five-course meal with wine pairings, and the laidback acoustic sounds of Banff folk musician Alanna J. Brown, it’s the perfect way to enjoy a unique, romantic evening.

Meet Morne: Executive Chef at Norquay

We caught up with Morne Burger, Executive Chef at Norquay, to chat about the “secret ingredients” that make the Starlight Dinner a success.

“I have made it my goal to make on-hill dining the best it can be. I want Norquay to be known not just as a great place to ski, but also a great place to eat,” Morne says.

Whether you’re a Starlight Dinner-devotee who snaps up tickets the moment they go live, or if you’ve never dined at Norquay before, Morne says these special events are unique experience.

“I want these events to be fun and casual, because that’s who we are at Norquay. The night starts off with a sightseeing chairlift ride, so dress warm in comfortable clothes. The stretchier the pants the better, because I’m known for my generous portions!” Morne says, with a grin.

Elevating On-Mountain Dining with a Family-Style Feast

For Morne and his team, the Starlight Dinners are an opportunity to cook for an extended family – Norquay’s friendly community of snow-seekers and visitors.

“Nothing makes me happier than watching people relax and enjoy themselves in good company. I want to encourage our guests to share in conversation, and to help that along I love creating dishes that are served family-style,” he says.

Morne Burger, Executive Chef, looks forward to delighting guests at Norquay’s Starlight Dinner events.

When darkness falls, the unique ambiance and stunning views from the Cliffhouse come alive in a whole new way – creating a very special atmosphere for Starlight Dinner guests.

“Looking down on the town all lit up at night time, it gives you an amazing sense of place. Seeing the mountains in all their glory with the stars above can be really transforming,” Morne says.

Complementing the views and cuisine, Alanna J. Brown, local Banff folk musician and former Norquay employee, will light up the night with an intimate acoustic performance.

“We call Alanna ‘Norquay’s own’ because we’re honoured to have hosted her first-ever gigs, right here at the resort. Her music brings another touch of mountain flavour,” Morne says.

Starlight Dinner guests will enjoy great food and wine, starlit views, and live music by Alanna J. Brown.

A Venue That Inspires Creativity

Constructed in 1948, the same year as the famed North American Chairlift, the Cliffhouse Bistro is an iconic piece of Banff’s history. While its elevated location has presented a challenge with the amount of power available to the building, the Cliffhouse kitchen has been specially designed with equipment to suit.

For Morne and the team, it’s a unique venue that inspires them to be even more creative –especially for the Starlight Dinner.

“It’s one of the big reasons I was drawn to work at Norquay – this opportunity to create food in such a cool venue. Working up here means I need to think outside the box, but this type of thinking keeps me sharp!” Morne says.

Happy Guests, Inspired Team

Although Morne is the head of the kitchen, he is the first to share the credit for the Starlight Dinner’s ongoing success, extending particular kudos to Chef Ina Osorio, and Chef Matt Ward.

“My team is equally important in making these events special. I’m not a one-man-show. At the end of each night, we like to gather together over a pint and share inspiration. We want to make these events better every time,” Morne says.

“I’m not a big fan of attention, but I was caught off guard at a past event when a guest asked me to autograph the menu – it was really humbling. I love seeing our guests’ faces when they are about to leave. Their smiles show that our efforts have paid off, and it’s a great feeling.”

A Special Date Night, or the Perfect Valentine’s Gift

Starlight Dinner tickets are limited, priced at $169 per person. Held on Saturday January 27th and Saturday February 24 in 2018, the event starts at 7pm, concluding at 11pm.

The Cliffhouse Bistro’s famous views over Banff are extra special after dark.

On behalf of Chef Morne, and all of us here at Norquay, we look forward to sharing this special event with you! To find out more and purchase tickets, visit: http://winter.banffnorquay.com/event/starlight-dinner/

Winter Fresh (And a Little Fruity): The ‘Norquay 92’ Local Brew Is Now On Tap

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Head Brewer Miranda takes some time out from brewing, in the brewery at Banff Ave Brewing Co.

This week, we visit our friends at Banff Ave Brewing Co. as they uncap their seasonal cask of Norquay anniversary ale, a deliciously refreshing way to mark our 92nd season.  Here’s what happened when we went ‘behind the brew’ with Head Brewer Miranda Batterink. 

Ever tasted a Saison?  Ever even heard of one?  We hadn’t either.  But, let us tell you: it’s hella tasty.  Prepare to have your thirst seriously quenched, as the limited-edition, Norquay 92 cranberry and citrus Saison is now fresh on tap and ready to be savoured – available at select Banff locations during Norquay’s winter season.

Locals and loyal Alberta brew enthusiasts will know, that this Banff collaboration has been in the hopper for a few years now.  Starting with the Norquay team approaching their favourite watering hole to ask what it would take to create a locally-brewed variety to mark 90 years of ski in Banff National Park, plans for a special brew were quickly in the works.

“That was really where it all started,” says Kent Patterson, Community Beer Guy at Banff Ave. Brewing Co.

“It made complete sense.  The first – and only – brewery in Banff National Park, and the first ski resort in Banff National Park teaming up to create a new beer that told a local story, and had some real community heart to it,” Kent continues.

“It was a huge year for Banff and the deep-rooted ski culture we have here, so we just had to create a tasty Norquay 90 – and we did,” adds Kent with a grin.

For Norquay’s 90th year [back in 2016 – Norquay was established in 1926, as the very first ski resort in the Canadian Rockies], the brewery team produced a nice Kolsch; light and crisp.

It proved to be a popular choice, and the Norquay 90 flowed through the taps and satisfied thirsty Banff dwellers throughout the season.  Then came the Norquay 91.

“For Norquay’s 91st year, we started to get creative,” says Kent.

“We brewed an Alberta Wheat Ale, using wheat that had been harvested from a farm just outside of Calgary – it was a real Alberta beer.”

He continues: “Since we started the collab, our signature Norquay brews have really built momentum, becoming somewhat of a tradition in our brewery.  Each year we want to do something different, original; invent something that both locals and visitors to town are going to want to try.  We like to be creative and keep our Norquay blends interesting, that’s for sure.”

Creative brewing you say?  Enter Miranda, Banff Ave. Brewing Co.’s sassy, meticulous, and “beer-nerdy” [her words not ours] Head Brewer.

A Grad of the Brew Master’s Program at Niagara College, this Ontario resident has settled into Banff life nicely, having been in her role as Head Brewer since October 2016.  Excited by the industry, armed with brewing know-how, and keen to be a part of the Alberta’s craft beer explosion [or Albeerta as the folks at Banff Ave. Brewing Co would have you say], Miranda packed her bags and moved out West – and hasn’t looked back.

For Norquay’s 92 brew, it was over to Miranda to write the seasonal recipe – and her thirst for experimentation and adding a little flair to the mix led her to try a first for Banff Ave Brewing Co. [this is where the Saison comes in].

“I had to get the creative juices flowing,” Miranda says.

“I wanted to do justice to the 92nd year, and I see so much local pride for Norquay.  It was important for me to create a blend that was going to get the thumbs up from the local crowd,” she adds.

Miranda placed her bets on adding fruit flavours to this edition of the Norquay collaboration – and it certainly passed our taste test.

“The Saison is a French-Belgian style of beer,” explains Miranda.

She continues: “It has lots of yeast-derived, spicy, fruity complexities to it.  To create those flavours, we added orange rind at the boil stage of the brewing process, and then cranberries at the secondary fermentation, giving a citrusy, fruity finish.”

Well, we’re confident that the Norquay 92 brew is going to be as, if not more, popular than its beer predecessors.

“There’s really been a great demand for the Norquay seasonal in previous years,” says Kent.

“Restaurants in Banff and Canmore have requested it for their winter menus, and we think the Saison could be another bestseller.  It’s fresh and different, and our brew community always respond well to that,” Kent adds.

First brewed in early November, and having been perfecting in the conditioning rooms [where it was resting when we visited the brewery], the Norquay 92 cranberry and citrus Saison is now available on draft – available at Banff Ave Brewing Co., Mt. Norquay’s Lone Pine Pub in the Cascade Lodge, and a select number of local restaurants and bars.

So, cheers to supporting local!

Head Brewer Miranda Batterink enjoying the Norquay 92 Saison with the locals, at Banff Ave Brewing Co.

Laugh and learn on the lifts: Creative approach delights young skiers in Banff

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Laughter and learning go hand-in-hand – just ask Mt Norquay ski instructor Jasmine Brown.

After completing her instructor certification with Norquay’s Snow School last year, Jasmine returned for her second ski season this week. And on her first day back on the hill, she marked a very happy reunion.

One of the very first students she taught last season was a three-year-old named Gillian, skiing for the first time. By chance, this year they shared their first day of the season, once again.

“It was a big coincidence – we were so excited! This year, she was keen from the start and grinned the whole time. Her parents asked if she wanted to take another lesson, and she said, ‘Yes! I want Jasmine!’, which was lovely to hear.”

Specialising in kid’s lessons, Jasmine is on a mission to make her lessons fun.

“Last year she took a while to feel comfortable, so we turned it into a game. Sometimes when she was putting on her mittens, her thumbs wouldn’t go in the right places, so we skied around the mountain to ‘find her thumbs’,” Jasmine says.

Jasmine says her Norquay training improved her own skiing, and provided more techniques to engage with kids, such as tailoring unique games to each child – just like with Gillian.

“With one group last season, we played a game to get them turning. I found out that they loved Star Wars, so we’d pretend we were on another planet using light sabers. It was a lot of fun to hear the sound effects as we skied around the mountain,” Jasmine says.

“Another group of kids hadn’t skied before, and they were obsessed with dogs and huskies. So we used a wolf call throughout the lesson to let each other know where we were. They loved it, especially when we howled to each other on the chairlift.”

For Jasmine, teaching small groups and enjoying one-on-one interactions with kids are highlights of her role.

“You need to build a bond so they trust you. When you’re their friend, they will listen to you, so we ask questions to create games that they can relate to. They love the make-believe, so when you involve them in a story, they really get into it,” she says.

Each year, the Gap Program is one way that Mt Norquay Snow School recruits high-calibre instructors, like Jasmine. It’s an intensive instructor training course where participants work hard to achieve their certification, attend lessons while shadowing senior instructors, then lead their own lessons for the rest of the season.

“The program was brilliant. It was crazy how much they could help us change our skiing in just two weeks. And it’s so rewarding to see how far the kids come in a single lesson – when they’re having a great time, they want to keep skiing!”

Hailing from England, Jasmine joined the program to share her passion with others and experience winter adventure overseas. Like many visitors to Banff, she intended to stay one season, but felt called to return.

“I just fell in love with Banff and the teaching. Now, six of us have come back for a second season, living together after becoming really good friends.”

Strong people skills and experience working with children are two of the most important factors that Norquay Snow School seeks from prospective instructors. Jasmine was a perfect fit, having volunteered as a student mentor with younger peers at while at high school, and helping her dad teach kids about horses during his work as a horse-riding instructor.

Hitting the slopes with her “ski-mad” family since she was three, Jasmine grew up skiing around the world – but she says Norquay will always have a very special place in her heart.

“I love Norquay because it has some really challenging terrain. Some of the blue runs on Spirit and Mystic would be classed as blacks in Europe, so I love testing myself here. The snow off the North American Chair is great, and the Mystic runs also have really good snow and are really fun to ski. Every time you go up on the first chairlift, it’s an amazing feeling.”

And what advice would Jasmine suggest for anyone who might feel apprehensive about booking a lesson, for their child or for themselves?

“We will help you feel confident. There’s no pressure, it’s tailored to your pace and your level, and at the end of the day it’s all about having fun.”

To book a lesson with Jasmine, or other passionate instructors at Norquay Snow School, or to find out more, visit banffnorquay.com or phone 403-760-7716.