By Kendall Hunter
While still in massage school, Samantha Tonner saw a job posting for a masseuse with a heli-skiing company. As an avid snowboarder, the idea of this dream job stuck with her and as her studies neared an end, she began researching a few companies. CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures was the one that rose to the top so she logged in and applied for the job online. Soon after writing her board exams at the Okanagan Valley College of Massage Therapy, Sam started work with CMH. She’s been with them now since 2009 and we were lucky enough to be in her company at the Bobbie Burns Lodge last summer.
My kids and I first met Sam during an early morning stretch class. As an optional activity for hikers we elected to try it out the first morning. I expected my kids to give it a ceremonial go before opting for a few minutes more snooze time the remaining mornings. I was wrong. Maybe it was Sam`s playlist, the hybrid of relaxing yet ultimately cool tunes that had them hooked but whatever it was, it was a great way to start the day and my kids ended up hurrying me out the door the next morning so as not to miss Sam`s class.
“My favourite thing about working for CMH is the variety of people” Sam says. “You get people that have saved up for a while to afford this once in a lifetime trip and others who have tried it once and had to come back as well as total powder addicts who keep returning. They are all there to have a great time and ski some great powder which makes the atmosphere in the lodge really positive
This congenial nature of the staff is immediately palpable as soon as guests arrive at the lodge. They all show a passion for skiing or hiking and take a genuine interest in people, no matter their age, where they come from or reasons for being there. Not only that, because they share the same zeal for nature and adventure, all the staff seem to be pretty good friends.
Says Sam, “They all have one thing in common, their all ski bums!"
It seemed to me that most people in that early morning stretch class eventually found their way to Sam`s massage table. For some reason, I resisted the first couple of days. A soak in the hot tub, curling up next to the fire with a good book seemed enough and I was feeling more relaxed than I had in years, especially after a good day of hiking but I guess my kids had a better perspective on just how tightly strung I`d become lately. `Come on Mom, there`s still lots of time before dinner.` Arm twisted, I found Sam playing cards in the dining room and within half an hour was drifting off to yet again, another one of her fab playlists but this time, letting her do all the work to ease the tension out of my muscles. What a treat.
I had a bit of time to chat with Sam about the playground in which her massage career was being nurtured. "I work two weeks on and one week off. I really enjoy this because it gives me totally free days when I'm home in Kelowna as well as the flexibility to go somewhere else for a week".
Time at the lodge ain`t all work and no play by the sounds of it either. Staff usually gets a chance to go skiing (or hiking) at least once when they are there for two weeks. In the summer Sam says she gets the chance to try everything, including the Mt. Nimbus via ferrata which was “awesome!” She also likes to utilize the bouldering wall at the lodge, go hiking or (snowshoeing in the winter) with the other massage therapist, or play a little pool.
As for the guests, she says, “there are so many that stands out, it would take too long to list them all, I just hope I see them again this year!” She does recall two memorable guests from Spain who, she tells me, “decided they were in love with Canada, so they asked what they could do to become 'honorary Canadians' . They were told they had to jump out of the hot tub and they rolled around in the powder. I still start to laugh at the memory of their screams and curses of "crazy Canadians!"
Well, thank the powder gods, I’m already a Canadian and had the incredible opportunity to enjoy Bobbie Burns in the summer time. The combination of physical activity balanced by camaraderie, laughs and spending quality time with my children made for a vacation that was priceless. It was kind of like one giant life massage. Sure, it involved a little work but the kinks were kneaded out so the Champagne mountain air could be inhaled a little more deeply.
Sam’s personal touch made it all the more luxurious.
Looking for a good massage? Join Sam this summer at the Bobbie Burns! To book your space, and your massage, contact CMH Summer Adventures today at 1.800.661.0252.