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Sunchaser Vacation Villas at Riverside
Reviewed 17 April 2009

We recieved a promotional "four day" three night vacation for the hillside villas, thinking that we couldnt go wrong with a "free" vacation. Not quite. Unless you are into golfing or tennis hardcore there is nothing to do unless you want to drive awhile to get there. The local hotsprings ARENT, they are heated chlorinated filtered hot spring water pumped into man made pools, which they charge you 10 dollars a head to use (9 if you show a key and 5 after 9pm). They are not on location, they are located accross the highway in the RV park. There are real and free hotsprings if you cross a bridge and do a short walk down a hill around the same area, and they are usually jam packed with kids. There are hotsprings about a half hour / 45 minute drive away that no one will tell you about unless you ask (this is generally a good thing!!) If you do get suckered into this location they are the only thing worth while to do I highly reccomend dropping this gem at the front desk they will give you a map.
The amenities on site are terrible. The pool attached to the check in area is in disrepair. The hot tub boiler was broken and the jets didnt work. Their wireless pay internet is super slow and expensive, and the free wireless in the rooms is just slow, if you can get a connection long enough to get anything done. The resturant in the golf club is expensive and the food isnt that great, if you eat here try out the lounge (the resturant has a different menu) accross the highway by the "hotsprings" and rv park. The other good place is also accross the highway called the fireside or something of the like...again no minors but decent fish and chips and burgers.
They boast that they are in the mountians....I have seen better mountain views on the drive here from alberta, what the heck do people do here? We drive for a living, I dont believe you should have to drive while staying on a resort.
On this trip we were required to attend a presentation on how wonderful their time shares are HA! DONT DO IT!!! They were extremely high pressure, pushy and rude. We were very sincere and did listen to the spiel but when we told them we werent interested they pretty much did everything less call us stupid, then called in the manager as a last ditch effort to get us to try to drop 36 thousand plus into this place! Are you nuts?!?!

  • Stayed: April 2009, travelled as a couple
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9  Thank Kerber25
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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198 - 204 of 207 reviews

Reviewed 7 September 2008

We are at the Riverside Villas as I write. I agree with earlier reviews about the kitchen space being VERY limited, however, having read other's reviews, I knew that coming in. The bedroom was more than adequate with plenty of shelving and closet space. They really have made good use of the space available for a coat closet, pots and pans, dishes, etc. My only complaint is we're on the lower level and our neighbors above us are noisy. They have "quiet time" but that's not until 11PM. We have gone into Invermere a couple of times for shopping and dinner. A little pricey, but that's about how it is now-a-days almost everywhere. I would recommend Hoodoos Lounge & Grill which is nearby for a nice dinner. Service and food were excellent and the restaurant was full of locals. The Bear's Paw has a good casual meal and entertainment some evenings. For those who have written negative things about the Villas, they ARE redoing the place. We are in the 700 building and work is to start pretty soon. If we return to the area, I would not hesitate about staying here again. We're driving to Banff and Lake Louise from here later in the week. It's a great location to use as a homebase.

  • Stayed: September 2008, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank carynsdad
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 August 2008

We are owners at Hillside in Fairmont and have stayed there four times in the past ten years. Every year we find more to do in the Valley and throughly enjoy our vacation time. We own a terrace/two bedroom unit and love the layout, space and kitchen for our family of four.

We live in Calgary and drive the three hours through the Rocky Mountains. We do most of our grocery shopping before we leave Calgary and bring food for the majority of our meals. The Fairmont area restaurants are pricey, but pretty good food. For the few meals we do eat out, we usually do so on a trip to Invermere. There are some really good restaurants there, including the Blue Dog Cafe, Angus McToogles, and ice cream at Gerry's Gelati; these are a few of our favourites. For an extra groceries, we shop in Invermere primarily; although the Mountainside Grocery Store in Fairmont is a nice ten minute walk from the timeshare when we need a couple of things.

I would definately recommend exploring the area, taking advantage of the incredible location. This year we tried several 'new' activities and enjoyed all of them. Near Windermere, we drove 4 km of switchbacks up Mt. Swansea and hiked 10 minutes to the top of the mountain for incredible views of the Valley. While at the top, an eagle flew nearly right in front of us! We also drove a bit south to soak in Lussier Hot Springs, which are right on the river. Hot springs without the crowds and admission; an amazing experience overall! Both of these are on forestry roads, so plan to go a bit off the beaten track. We always see a fair amount of wildlife on the drive and in the Valley, which is always fun.

We also rented a canoe this year to paddle through the wetlands in Invermere; a great way to spend a couple of hours taking in the local nature. (The folks at Columbia River Outfitters are awesome.) Afterwards we headed to Kinsmen Beach in Invermere for a swim.

The waterpark/pool by the Hillside buildings is great! We spend a couple of hours there most days; on cooler days we head to the indoor pool at the rec centre.

There seem to be a lot more activity offerings through the rec centre at Riverside/Hillside this year; we enjoyed several of them during our stay. Be sure to go to the 'Meet & Greet Social' held once a week; you'll learn a lot about the area and have a chance to win gift certificates for local activities. The Fairmont Hot Springs resort has new owners who are really promoting their property and new development. They have two young naturalists offering a variety of really well done programs; we took advantage of several of these as well, including Mountain Rock Painting, Campfire Desserts (yummy even if you don't camp), and Wilderness Games.

Our kids love the glow bowling at 'Valley Alley' near Windermere; so we check the forecast and save this for a rainy day activity. On our next visit we plan to do a few hikes (when the kids can keep up for a few hours) of the Bugaboos, Hoodoos and other local trails. We'll also do some horseback riding, gliding (through the airport in Invermere) and more golfing.

There are numerous golf courses in the area. We golfed with the kids at Creekside in Fairmont; it's a good family-oriented par 3 course, although we heard good things about CopperPoint as well.

Probably one of the best things about the area is the incredible location; in the Valley between two beautiful mountain ranges. We love sitting on the deck and enjoying the views; as well as after dinner walks. We'll be back!

Stayed: July 2008
3  Thank danasilver
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 July 2008

After reading the other reviews on Fairmont Vacation Villas at Riverside, I was expecting the worst. Maybe something akin to a Motel 6. However, I was pleasantly surprised by our unit and the friendly Fairmont Vacation Villa staff. We had the 1 bedroom unit with the pull out couch.

Contrary to what other commentators noted, we did have air conditioning and it looked like all the other units at Riverside did as well. Perhaps that is a recent addition. The ceiling fans in the two rooms helped circulate the air as well. We had family staying at Hillside and they too had a/c and ceiling fans. Yes, the kitchen is small but you can't really do anything about that now that the units are built. So, we put our coffee maker and toaster on the breakfast table vice the burners to counter the potential fire hazard. When washing the dishes, we just put the dish rack on the floor with a towel under it. The Hillside unit had a built in dishwasher. We did NOT see any bird droppings whatsoever. Perhaps the swallows don't nest in July.

Our room seemed very clean, including the carpet, which was nice since we had an infant with us. I thought the furnishings, bedspreads, window coverings, and wall paper were nice. I liked the free laundry machines that our unit shared with the unit next door (they even had detergent for us) and I was surprised at the size of the fridge and how many kitchen items were present.

My family at Hillside noted that they didn't have enough towel racks and the window treatments did not block out much sun so it made it hard to put the kids to bed since the sun goes down so lat there. Also, those units would be much nicer if the countertops were upgraded to granite. I hear there are major upgrades in progress, maybe that is one of them. Finally, the wireless router must be at the Rec Center near Riverside so our laptop didn't work real well from Hillside but worked great from Riverside.

The only disappointment was the Riverside Golf Course. Save your money! We played at Copper Point for the same price and there was NO comparison. CP had brand new GPS golf carts, the range balls were free and were new Nike balls, the rental clubs were brand new Nike clubs, and the course was beautiful. This is opposed to the expensive Riverside with mosquitos everywhere, garage sale rental clubs, ugly and costly range balls, old carts, and a mediocre course. They say it is an "award winning course." I'm not sure what decade it won the "award" or what type of award they won but I would NOT play there again. Now that was like a Motel 6 and Copper Point was like a Hyatt.

We did not find the local market to be costly. In fact, we prepared most of our meals in our units using the BBQ and saved a ton of $ that we used to go to the hot spring pools, Banff, Lake Louise, white water rafting etc...

One thing we did not know was that we needed to buy a pass at the Radium Hot Springs Park Entrance to stop at Lake Louise. The sign said to buy a pass if you were stopping in the park. We didn't realize that Lake Louise counted as part of the park and, apparently, you can only buy the passes at the entrances to the park. So, we parked at Lake Louise with no pass. In the end, we didn't get a ticket but we felt bad about it. Oh, we couldn't any real good restaurants or places to eat near Lake Louise except at the Fairmont Hotel so keep that in mind of you are doing Banff and LL the same day.

One thing that the Fairmont Vacation Villas did was have a calendar of things to do all day long. Great stuff for the kids and good free hikes etc...I found it funny that they added things like Tupperware parties, Mary Kay makeovers, and Partylite candle parties. Maybe this is something Canadians enjoy but I just found it to be funny. I certainly wouldn't buy those things there just to transport them all the way home to the US.

In sum, I thought the location was lovely and the unit was just fine. The mountains were breathtaking, the valley was beautiful, and the air was clean. We enjoyed our week there and would consider going back.

  • Stayed: July 2008, travelled with family
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4  Thank Shelby H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 August 2007

The Columbia Valley is largely undiscovered by U.S. Citizens, and so it is off the beaten track. More people should discover this bbeautiful, and largely unspoiled area of the world.

We booked our stay at the Fairmont Hot Springs Riverside Villas as a timeshare exchange with Interval International. The distinction between the Riverside, Hillside and Riverview Villas is important. The Riverside Villas are the least well-equipped in the complex. We booked sight-unseen, and consider ourselves lucky, since we got a fairly reasonable unit in the Riverside section. The Hillside Villas are a separate complex. This is a large vacation complex. It has no proprietory relationship with the Fairmont Hot Springs Lodge, though there has been an attempt to brand everything in town with the same logo. The Fairmont Hot Springs Lodge is at a distance from the Vacation Villas, and they do offer a discount to guests at the villas.

Anyone staying here should call first before booking and be explicit about the amenities. We were fortunate to be in the 800 building. We had air-conditioning, and a readily available washer-drier adjacent to our modest one-bedroom unit with queen bed and hide-a-bed sofa. Two televisions and a DVD player were also in the unit. There was also a medium-sized refrigerator with a freezer, a combination microwave/convection unit, two electric burners and a reasonably full set of kitchen equipment. As mentioned by others, the counter space in the kitchen was inadequate, requiring the dish drainer, the coffee pot or the toaster to be placed on the electric burners or in the sink to operate them--a potential fire hazard. A nice touch was a gas grill on every balcony shared by two units.

The cooking facilities are important, because food in the area is mediocre and horrendously expensive. We paid $25 for two Greek salads and kababs at a take-out food stand. The local grocery store is hugely overpriced. Supermarkets at Invermere, 20 minutes away and some skills with electric burner cookery are important factors in keeping well fed and within a vacation budget.

However, many other units were not so well equipped. Air conditioning and washer-driers were absent from many units, and they were the cause of frequent complaints by other guests.

The Riverview and Hillside Villas are generally better equipped and more luxurious.

Golf, tennis, two swimming pool complexes and lots of opportunites for hiking in the beautiful mountains, as well as nearby hot springs made this a great environment for a vacation.

There were literally hundreds of very small children at this resort. For those who have children, this may be welcome, but for couples coming without children, this may be a distraction. The best place for adults to congregate may be the bar at the Riverside golf course, which has occasional entertainment.

  • Stayed: August 2007, travelled as a couple
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8  Thank wbeeman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 August 2006

My stay at the Fairmont Vacation Villas at Riverside in Fairmont Hot Springs was my worts vacation experience in my 59 years.

General Conditions
The area surrounding the unit, in particular the steps and the outside vestibule were filled with bird droppings from the swallows that had nests in the rafters. Some of the steps had torn pieces of cardboard, which were removed every few days and replaced with a fresh piece of cardboard, which was soon covered with new droppings. When I complained, I was told that the government did not permit the removal of the nests and that the areas were supposed to be washed down daily. THE AREAS WERE NOT WASHED DOWN, LEAVING A DISGUSTING, UNHEALTHY AND UNSIGHTLY MESS THAT HAD TO BE STEPPED OVER IN ORDER TO GAIN ACCESS TO THE UNIT!

The cement patio/balcony was all broken-up and crumbling, making it impossible to walk on it without shoes or other foot coverings.

Apartment Conditions
One tiny window, approximately 8” by 16” that opened onto what would be the equivalent of a shaft way, was the only ventilation and natural light in the room. As there was only a ceiling fan and no air conditioning, the room was extremely uncomfortable to sleep in.

There was no counter space. There was a sink right next to the electric stovetop (2 burners). The entire area was approx 36” by 20”, including the sink and stovetop. The only electrical receptacle in the entire kitchen area was above the stovetop. If you wanted to make coffee or toast, you had to place them on top of the burners. It was impossible to make eggs and toast, eggs and coffee or coffee and toast at the same time. When you washed the dishes, you had to place the dish drain on top of the burners.


Provided upon arrival, but when asked for fresh ones, I was told in a very snide way that is what the washer and dryer in the common area were for.

  • Stayed: July 2006, travelled as a couple
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12  Thank Jake0512
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed 8 October 2004

Fairmont Resorts - The location is ideal. It is in the Kootenay Area of British Columbia and as such is close to several British Columbia/Alberta National Parks. We enjoyed our drives from here to Banff, Kootenay, Glacier, and Yoho National Parks. It is also close to a hot springs - the closest being just up the hill from the condo; the second being up at Radium Hot Springs (simply wonderful!). We enjoyed local exploring including the Railroad Museum at Creston; the Fort there; and visiting many rivers and lakes. Watching the Canadian Railroads (for rail road buffs) is quite fun in this area!

As for the resort itself, we very much enjoyed the inside of our condo - too bad however they did not put in air conditioning. The buildings are so well insulated you had to open the windows, the fan, etc. to sleep comfortably.

The furnishings themselves were quite comfortable and we enjoyed it. We found the golf course quite pleasant - but the rest of the grounds doesn't quite fit into the British Columbia Experience. They could have spent some thought and time into putting in more landscaping to make it fit better into the beautiful local surroundings. Instead we had a quite big covered patio - with simply a view of the parking lot. Ugh!!!! They could have easily put in trees, etc. and did some thinking.

In addition, they have lots of daily activities to keep everyone busy. This is a plus...however the lodge itself should have again looked more like a mountain lodge. Instead, it looked like your average church hall - stark, boring, and a tad worn. They closed the pool at the lodge while we were there and even though they had another pool did not even take the time to compensage by longer hours there. In short, the resort is great for a place to park yourself at night, but not one to enjoy during the day (except the golf course).

The people at the lodge were interesting.....We checked in and they warned us not to eat at the restaurant but instead to eat at a local filling station???? Luckly there are many fine restaurants in the area (especially if you like German and European cooking) so we were able to enjoy the foods in the area.

In short - the location is a plus; the inside of the condo is great----but the place itself needs to start to decide how to make the place much more beautiful and fit into the local surroundings.

27  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Sunchaser Vacation Villas at Riverside

Address: 5129 Riverview Gate Rd | Highways 93 & 95, Fairmont Hot Springs, British Columbia V0B 1L1, Canada (Formerly Fairmont Vacation Villas)
Region: Canada > British Columbia > Kootenay Rockies > Fairmont Hot Springs
Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 4 Hotels in Fairmont Hot Springs
Price Range: £57 - £91 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 116
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Also Known As:
Sunchaser Vacation Villas At Riverside Hotel Fairmont Hot Springs
Fairmont Vacation Hotel

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