It is easy to see what attracted Kate Middleton and Prince William to the stunning Banff National Park.
We are being shown round the park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, by the director of a local ski school, Gord Fielding. Gesturing to the spectacular views of the snow-capped Canadian Rockies all around us, Gord exclaims: "I'm living the dream here. I have this 360 degree panoramic view 24/7, 365 days a year. It’s freaking awesome. Welcome to my office!"
It is this "awesome" vista that brought William and Kate to the remotest corner of the Banff National Park. Three years ago, eager for some R and R in the middle of their hectic official tour of Canada, the royal couple took a break at Skoki Lodge, a far-flung log cabin a full seven miles and five hours' cross-country ski from the nearest resort, Lake Louise.
Bereft of running water, electricity, showers, flushing toilets, mobile signal, TV, radio, internet and mobile signal, the lodge is the dictionary definition of "getting away from it all". You don't need a telly here – you can spend all day marvelling at the wondrous natural beauty that surrounds you.
Skoki is truly far from the madding crowd of paparazzi. There is no road to the lodge – supplies are delivered by skidoo – and it is one of the few places on earth where William and Kate could be guaranteed to be out of the media spotlight.
Here they could inhale the revivifying mountain air and exhale the stresses and strains of everyday life. It is no surprise to learn that National Geographic Adventure Magazine judged Skoki the Top Winter Hideaway in North America.
With a permanent staff of five, the Lodge has 22 beds dotted around a cluster of cosy cabins. William and Kate stayed in the Riverside Cabin and also enjoyed the facilities of a lavatory that was handcrafted in situ. The owners had attempted to fly in a loo fit for a Duke and Duchess, but it smashed on the rocks when the helicopter had to jettison it after getting into difficulties.
Taking advantage of the 400 kilometres of local mountain trails, the royal couple went for a romantic walk over the nearby Deception Pass. Later, they were able to unwind on elongated communal tables over a delicious home-cooked dinner of Alberta beef (for him) and wild halibut (for her). After their meal, they relaxed with board games and books from the lodge's extensive collection.
William and Kate were apparently tickled by the fact that one of the first people to sign the visitors' book soon after the Lodge opened in 1931 was Lady Jean Rankin, The Queen Mother's lady in waiting, who came on honeymoon for three days and ended up staying for three weeks.
The regal couple are reported to have revelled in the tranquillity of the place. The locals were equally charmed by them. The young royals chatted in a very unaffected way with the staff. A Lake Louise local tells Hello! that, "When they were here, they were delightful and so natural. You can’t fake that. When they were sitting around the table for dinner, within five minutes you wouldn’t have known they were royalty."
The Duke and Duchess clearly adored their time at Skoki Lodge. Both praised it in the visitors' book. William wrote, "Fantastic scenery and delicious food. Thank you." While Kate added, "Thank you for looking after us so well!"
The expansive 4,200-acre Lake Louise Ski Area – which in the summer is teeming with grizzly bears and boasts runs with such evocative names as Wounded Knee, Grizzly Gully, Sunset Terrace, Pinecone Way and Hell’s Kitchen – certainly forms a spectacular backdrop to Skoki Lodge.
Located 7,100 feet up in the Rockies, the Banff National Park in Alberta enjoys the nickname of "Canada's Eighth Wonder of the World".
Looking around at the idyllic snowy peaks adorned with picturesque pine trees, you very quickly forget about your urban angst and simply lose yourself in the most majestic scenery. As the poster at the central restaurant in Lake Louise’s Lodge of Ten Peaks, puts it: "There are 4,200 skiable reasons to call in sick for work."
It is not hard to grasp why the royal couple loved their escape to the rural remoteness of Skoki Lodge. Banff National Park in Alberta, Western Canada is a pristine wilderness virtually untouched by human hand or ski.
It is a special place for a special couple.
Inghams has 7 nights at the Lake Louise Inn from £924, including flights from London Heathrow and based on four sharing. Inghams offers ‘The Skoki Lodge 2-day Explorer’ to all guests in Lake Louise. The excursion costs £149 per person and includes qualified guide, snowshoes and accommodation on half-board.
More information: Visit http://www.inghams.co.uk or contact 0044 1483 791 114.
Tourist information: travelalberta.co.uk