My family found hygge far from home on a trip to Western Canada. It didn’t seem a likely set-up for a contented space as we drove toward our destination.

“…And it looks as though the highway is blocked for at least 10 kilometres,” the voice on the radio warned.

I looked around the car at my husband and three kids (ages 12, 15 and 22) and sighed. Having arrived at the Calgary airport a few hours earlier, we were on our way to Panorama Mountain Resort in B.C. to visit our 20-year-old son, who was working there. We were excited to get our family together after six months apart.

Photograph by Chris Amat.

The snowfall had intensified as we drove into the Rocky Mountains from Alberta into B.C., and the road ahead had just been closed. We simply weren’t going to make it. Saddened by our reunion delay, we made hasty plans to stay at Emerald Lake Lodge, not far from where we were waylaid.

Our reward was a main lodge full of board games and cabin-inspired rooms filled with homey decor. As we led our kids down the path to the main building, the snowbanks on either side were inches above our heads. It seemed like a secret tunnel. We settled into the lodge’s leather armchairs beside a roaring fire, playing game after game—Risk, Monopoly and Careers—and connected with our son by phone to reassure him we would be there the following day.

Emerald Lake Lodge, photograph by Chris Amat.

And, we got that feeling. That feeling of hygge, without even knowing such a term existed. Winter travel has its extra challenges, especially in Canada. But most Canadians I know relish the idea of snowstorms, snuggled up with family or friends, sharing stories, repeating well-worn jokes and eating comfort food.

We made it safely to our destination the next day and spent a wonderful week visiting our son. But the kids still talk about that night at Emerald Lake Lodge, and the luck we had in finding this cozy and welcoming place. You can find hygge anywhere; you’ll know it when you feel it.

Three Places to Experience Hygge

Photograph by Chris Amat.

Blue Mountain Resort, Collingwood, Ontario

Explore the snow-covered forests on a guided snowshoe tour with Columbia Sports at Blue Mountain Village. After, warm up by the fireplace at the Oliver & Bonacini Café Grill in Westin Trillium House.

The Delta Bessborough Hotel, Sakatoon, Saskatchewan

Situated on the South Saskatchewan River, the Bessborough Hotel rises like a castle over the city. Go for a walk down the snowy river path, then warm yourself with a cocktail and yummy appetizers in the lobby lounge.

Mont-Sainte-Anne, Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec

Photograph by Etienne Dionne.

This classic Quebec ski resort is just 50 km from Quebec City. The kids will love the maple syrup lollies rolled in snow, and you’ll love the après ski next to the lodge’s cozy fireplace after a day on the slopes.

This article appears in the November 2019 issue of WestJet Magazine.