A short drive southwest of Calgary on Highway 22X, nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, is the stately hamlet of Priddis, Alberta. A dusting of snow outlines the pavement’s shoulders along winding back roads, pointing visitors to the area’s best kept secret, Azuridge Estate Hotel. The 13-hectare property is sprawling and meticulously landscaped (a quality evident even in winter). Two main buildings are adjoined by a cascading water feature and a multi-story water tower, a vantage point from which to contemplate the quiet: deer tiptoeing out from the brush, rolling hills covered in frost, snowy peaks in the distance.
Inside, all is warm and welcoming. Here, dexterity is in the details, seen to by general manager and elite butler Clarence McLeod, and managed by his talented protégé, director of butlers Jimmy-Lee Vennard. “It was a house that was converted into an estate hotel three years ago,” Vennard explains. The property itself is 23 years old, the former private residence of Calgary entrepreneur Mogens Smed. After a few exchanges among corporate hands, it was bought by the current owners, who are geologists. As such, each of the 13 suites on the property—floor-to-ceiling windows, exposed beams, rich wood, and creature comforts included—is named after a precious stone. “The thought is that people rent the whole estate,” says Vennard, adding that most bookings are for weddings and corporate retreats. While the property may have a boutique feel, it is well equipped; the banquet hall can hold 200 people, conference rooms are outfitted with tech for general meetings, and a fireside lounge is stocked with s’mores for smaller, more intimate parties.
More substantial nosh is available in the Opal dining room. Menu standouts include the wild mushrooms soup with Alberta pecorino crusted puff pastry, Alberta grilled bison tenderloin and bison meatballs, and the Pearl Dessert: vanilla ice cream and apple passion fruit tarte Tatin. Guests can also indulge in chef Yoshi Chubachi’s five-course tasting dinners, served kitchen-side, with the rush of dinner preparation open for observation.
Although the dining room and common areas offer a gentle buzz, private and secluded moments are the property’s specialty—whether it’s taking advantage of the grounds on a snowshoe walk, a careful trek up the water tower to take in the view, or a bottle of wine enjoyed from the comfort of your room, with Alberta’s big, beautiful skies as a backdrop.