Hit­ting the Rock­ies road


Daily Star Sunday - - RESULT! - ■ by ALEXAN­DER BROWN

FRANCE SKIING: Hit the slopes with a one-week half-board trip to Les Arcs stay­ing at the Ho­tel L’Aigu­ille. De­parts on De­cem­ber 29 from Gatwick for £835pp. Book at crys­tal­ski.co.uk. HONG KONG: Head east from Heathrow on Jan­uary 19 for four nights at the Crowne Plaza in Kowloon, room only, for £682pp. Visit ebook­ers.com. SCAN­DI­NAVIA: Set sail for Nor­way and Den­mark on June 29, depart­ing Southamp­ton, on a one-week cruise that vis­its four ports in­clud­ing Oslo and Copen­hagen for £699pp. You get $150 on-board credit per per­son. Visit princess.com. MALTA: Fly from East Mid­lands or Birm­ing­ham on Jan­uary 9 for a week self-cater­ing at the three-star White Dol­phin Hol­i­day Com­plex in St Paul’s Bay. From £95pp at trav­el­su­per­mar­ket.com

HANG­ING on to the back of a Har­ley-David­son, we tear down a coun­try road in a blur of forests and moun­tains.

“Do you want to see a trick?” my driver asks.

The next thing I know our side­car is off the ground and we are rac­ing along with my head a lot closer to the road than I would like.

Dressed from head to toe in leather, paired with a skull ban­dana and heated vest, this is all part of the fun on a Jasper Mo­tor­cy­cle Tour in the Cana­dian Rock­ies.

Set in Jasper Na­tional Park, a vast wilder­ness area of Al­berta prov­ince, the adrenaline thrill ride also takes in the crash­ing rivers of the Athabasca Falls and end­less snow of the Columbia Ice­field.

With lim­ited light pol­lu­tion the re­gion has been deemed a dark­sky pre­serve and hosts the Jasper Dark Sky Fes­ti­val. It’s a month­long gath­er­ing in Oc­to­ber where tourists come to ap­pre­ci­ate the cos­mos, go on guided star-gaz­ing and plan­e­tar­ium tours, and maybe even catch a glimpse of the North­ern Lights.

The fes­ti­val’s glo­ri­ous show­piece event is the Sym­phony Un­der the Stars at the Fair­mont Jasper Park Lodge, a lux­ury base that has wel­comed guests in­clud­ing the Queen, Prince Philip and Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe.

Spread across 700 acres, the re­sort wraps it­self around Beau­vert lake and is ringed by moun­tains carved up by hik­ing trails.

Af­ter a gourmet three-course meal, con­cert-go­ers head out­side, snug­gled in blan­kets and sip­ping hot choco­late, to lis­ten to the Ed­mon­ton Sym­phony Or­ches­tra Strings and con­duc­tor Bob Bern­hardt per­form clas­si­cal and mod­ern pieces. With a back­drop of shoot­ing stars and comets, it’s a spell­bind­ing night.

The magic con­tin­ues back at our ho­tel, the Chateau Jasper – a comfy abode with views across the misty moun­tains, where we warm up by the roar­ing fires and work through the cock­tail menu.

The next day we hit the road again to Lake Louise, a glacier-fed body of wa­ter famous for its vivid turquoise colour. Hik­ing trails up the snowy hills pro­vide a path­way to get bird’s eye view – and that all-im­por­tant In­sta­gram shot. You can ca­noe across it in sum­mer and skate on it in win­ter.

At nearby Banff, a re­sort town filled with in­de­pen­dent choco­late shops and bak­eries, we pop in for a pint at the Banff Ave Brewing Co, which uses glacier wa­ter in its beer.

Keep­ing with the theme, we then enjoy a tour and tast­ing ses­sion at Park Dis­tillery, sam­pling a range of spir­its in­clud­ing vanilla, chilli and espresso vodka. Its restau­rant, with wooden walls dec­o­rated with axes and elk antlers, serves up camp­fire-in­spired dishes such as salmon in maple syrup, prime ribs with slaw, and buf­falo sauce shrimp with pop­corn.

In Banff we stay at the Mount Royal Ho­tel, which is more than 100 years old and re-opened this year with rooftop hot tubs.

From here we drive to Sul­phur Moun­tain to ride the Banff Gon­dola and take in the views of six dreamy moun­tain ranges and the green­ery of Bow Val­ley.

If you want some down­time in the spa af­ter a se­ri­ous hit of scenery, check in to the Pomeroy Kananaskis Moun­tain Lodge. The star at­trac­tion is its Nordic Spa

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