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You can’t ring for room service at the Elkhorn Cabin. Out of fresh towels? Open the door and let Ma Nature do the job. No one’s going to see you: At this one-room B&B snugged up to a ledge in British Columbia’s Purcell range, you’re guaranteed run of the house – as well as the miles of trails just outside your door. So, how is it possible that this cabin is a two-chairlift ride from Panorama Mountain Village below?
The cabin’s original home was on the Elkhorn Ranch in Windermere, B.C., downvalley from the Canadian ski resort. In 1997, Don and Heather Bilodeau bought the dilapidated shell, towed it to the base village, then hauled it up behind a bulldozer to its present setting just off Panorama’s Roller Coaster run. Over the next five weeks, the pair – who also run the resort’s ski school – gutted and refashioned the cabin as a cozy retreat for two.
Catering to the backcountry-shy, the Bilodeaus subscribe to the roughin’-it-in-style brand of innkeeping: A white-linen dinner awaits guests – arrival, a CD is spinning, and a continental-style breakfast is ready when you wake. Lodgers sleep on a futon dressed in flannel and down, and piled with pillows and quilts. A wood-burning stove sets the ambience and keeps the room warm through the night. The outhouse is just steps behind the cabin, and there are no showers – no running water or electricity, in fact – but a washbasin, soap and towels are laid out.
Driving in via Land Cruiser by 3 p.m. – in winter, skiers glide in off the Horizon Express Quad – guests hear house rules from the Bilodeaus: Don’t hike down the mountain at night (liability issues); put the fire out when you leave; use the two-way radio in case of emergency – it – s tuned into Panorama dispatch. They put the final touches on a barbecue dinner, uncork the wine and leave you blissfully alone. Daylight can linger till 11 p.m. in the summer – time enough for a hike. Then you can hunker down beneath a quilt to track the sun as it sets behind 10,000-foot Mount Nelson.
Backcountry zealots can scoff at the Elkhorn’s accessibility, but it’s an eye-popping place. From bed, just turn your head toward the picture windows to earn a view of Mount Nelson’s snowy apex. And when night’s blanket is pulled tight, you’d be hard-pressed to tell Panorama from Annapurna. So go ahead – sing, yell, howl at the moon. No one can hear you. Except maybe the guys at the other end of the two-way radio. $299 per couple, per night; 888-767-7799