Canvas Hotel has no parking lot, no road, no electricity, no indoor plumbing, no swimming pool, no pay TV, but may be one of the world’s most exclusive and unique hotels, at least amongst us mountain bikers.
At first glance, from a good distance, Canvas Hotel is reminiscent of a Native American camp; traditional Mongolian yurt-style tents and specially designed house tents dot the landscape all in a heavy, Khaki-colored canvas. Small bridges connect the hotel to the trails on each side of this tiny island. And the biking remains exciting all the way to the hotel’s heart: The kitchen tent. Some of the best food we have ever tasted is served here and is as distinctive as the hotel itself. Right now, we are tempted by a swim in the nearly black water, and then a trip to the sauna, which, like the bedrooms, is a yurt.
A long table built around several large barbeques lets you personally grill all meals here. Enjoying the warm radiant heat from this unique table each guest grills everything from pancakes, eggs and bacon for breakfast, to mountain trout or tenderloin of venison for dinner. Combined with good drinks and a view of the pond, this culinary adventure is all part of the fantastic experience. The food here is at a level you might find at multi-starred establishments, with gleaming cars rather than muddy bikes parked outside.
“You don’t stop playing because you are old, you get old because you stop playing”, says our bike guide, as he takes us for a few laps on a natural jump on a long, even surface of stone. The last ride back to civilization is unbelievable. And just when we think it can’t get better, the guide leaves the path to check out a small creek running alongside the trail. As he must have suspected, it’s just a matter of turning into the shallow creek on the smooth rock, with turf on both sides, and attack it like any other bike path. We jump in, raise a spray as we pedal, and follow the water down, trying not to lock our brakes or hit submerged surprises.
When we reach our parked cars, we are soaked with sweat, water and mud. We swim in the nearest mountain pool to get cleaned up, and already miss Canvas, with its sauna and culinary temptations. We get in the car and head back to reality. We hope to come back one day.