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Ultimate Rockies Vacations website: Fairmont Hot Springs, BC
Like Radium Hot Springs, Fairmont Hot Springs first made its mark with Europeans because of its natural, odourless hot springs. Straddling Highway 93/95, Fairmont is divided into two parts commonly referred to as Riverside and Mountainside, as one half of the community lies on the banks of the Columbia River and the other half at the base of the Rocky Mountains.
Located 26 kilometres south of Invermere, Fairmont's economy is based around tourism and focused, to large degree, in the timeshare retail sector. A small resort town with a permanent population of 364 residents, Fairmont is host to tens of thousands of domestic and foreign time-share owners each year. Fairmont offers a host of basic amenities such as restaurants, accommodations, gas station, cafes, grocery store, apparel and gift retailers, a volunteer fire department, post office, church, information centre and an airport - the largest in the valley community - with a two-kilometre long runway capable of handling small aircraft, as well as jets and charter planes.
The strata corporation behind the small town is the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort. The resort offers four-and-a-half star accommodation, fine dining and access to Fairmont's recreation opportunities.
Recreation opportunities in Fairmont during the summer months include golfing at Mountainside Golf Course and Riverside Golf Course, both 18-hole championship golf courses. Fairmont is a popular base for golf vacations in the valley as it is centrally located to the excellent courses in the south near Kimberley and to the north in Invermere, Radium and Panorama. Other popular summer activities include tennis, horseback riding at the Fairmont Stables, hiking, mountain biking, paddling in the Columbia River and a spa.
Winter recreation centers around the Fairmont ski hill, located approximately four kilometres beyond the resort's main complex. With two lifts and a large number of intermediate runs, the hill strives to provide family skiing and snowboarding. Skiers and boarders looking for more vertical, more runs and more snow either make the trip from Fairmont to Kimberley or Panorama. Other winter activities in Fairmont include snowmobiling and cross country skiing.
However, Fairmont's biggest year-round draw is its hot springs. The pools' complex is made up of soaking hot pools, a warm swimming pool and a diving pool.
Apart from recreational opportunities, the resort is one of the few in the valley that caters to the business traveler with a whole array of convention rooms that can host groups of 15 to groups as big as 300.
European history in Fairmont dates back to 1887 when an Englishman named George Geary homesteaded a large tract of land that included the hot springs. Geary left Fairmont a year later and turned his holdings over to Sam Brewer who moved to the valley from the United States. In Fairmont, Brewer operated a stopping place for stagecoaches running up and down the valley. The property was later purchased by W. Heap Holland, a manufacturer from Manchester, England in the early 1900s. Holland operated Fairmont as a ranch and resort.
The birth of the resort as it stands today dates back to 1957 when Earl and Lloyd Wilder, originally from Saskatchewan, along with a group of Invermere businessmen, purchased the property. At the time, the resort was little more than some outdoor change rooms and a few tent cabins situated around a small pool. The Wilders eventually bought out the Invermere businessmen and in 1965, Lloyd became the sole owner when he purchased Earl's share.
In the Fairmont area, another larger permanent population is found in the communities of Dutch Creek and Columere Park. Both communities are located directly south of Fairmont and have a permanent population of 370 residents. The first subdivision plan at Columere Park, which features a family beach and Coy's Par 3 Golf Course, was registered in 1961, but large scale development didn't take place until a decade or so later, while the Dutch Creek plan of subdivision was registered in 1979. The latest subdivision in the Fairmont area is Columbia Ridge, which was started in 1996. It is located half way between Canal Flats and Fairmont.