Lindsay Gallagher was born and raised in Cochrane, Alberta, Canada and has felt connected to the mountains from a very young age. After graduating high school, she spent six months exploring Australia and caught a case of the travel bug, but alas, University called. After returning home and then moving to the other side of Canada, she completed her radio and television arts degree at Ryerson University in Toronto. It wasn’t long after that the Rocky Mountains beckoned her to return to Alberta and that she did. Lindsay’s combined love of skiing and the outdoors complemented by the lure of the Rockies brought her to Sunshine Village where she’s turned those passions into a career as media and marketing coordinator. Calling Calgary home, when’s she’s not in the mountains hiking or skiing, Lindsay can be found doing her best to discover new bars and eateries, cooking meals for those she loves in the city or planning her next (usually beach) adventure.
How does the “Snowshoe on top of the world” experience offered at Sunshine Village give guests a unique perspective on the history, people or culture of your region?
The route that we take guests on is part of a trail that the First Nations people actually traveled to trade goods between tribes. As the area is in the National Park it has stayed nearly untouched for thousands of years—the mountain vistas that you see are the same ones they witnessed. It’s a really neat experience to feel connected in that way.
How have the experiences that you offer in Banff evolved since their inception?
Back when Sunshine Village opened in the 1970’s, people took busses to get from the base of the resort to the village and there were just a couple of slow lifts. Now, we have an 8-passenger gondola that whisks people up the mountain in 18 minutes and new this year, Teepee Town LX, the first heated lift in Canada.
What is one detail of an experience you provide that may go unnoticed by guests, but which you feel is important?
I think it’s important to remind people that we are in a National Park which means that the amenities they see might not be newest, but the lack of infrastructure is what makes the area so magical. To be on top of a lift and see nothing but mountains surrounding you is an experience like no other.
What do you wish every guest knew as they consider visiting Sunshine Village?
We are located in Canada’s oldest national park which means that the views people are seeing have not changed in thousands of years.
What is one travel trend that really excites you?
I like that we’re seeing more of an emphasis put on authentic local experiences. Visiting the restaurants, bars and areas where you meet local people and learn about the area. When you stick to the tourist areas, you don’t really feel like you’re getting a true taste for the place you’re visiting.
What sets Sunshine Village apart from other resorts in your area?
We pride ourselves in having the area’s friendliest staff. Whether you’re riding the lift or eating lunch in the restaurant, we want our visitors to remember the helpful staff. We also solely rely on Mother Nature for all of our snow which is impressive when considering that we have the longest non-glacial ski season in the Rockies.
What is one insiders tip to getting the most out of an experiential travel vacation?
Relax and don’t overbook yourself. Travelling is stressful enough, so slow down and really soak in each experience. I also like to leave a few free days so I can learn from others where to go and ask the locals what they suggest.
What is one strategy that has helped your business to grow?
Sticking to what is important and relying on our product to sell people. Our guests remember Sunshine Village because they have made memories there. The goal is to get people here and have them experience the place for themselves. Everyone is going to have a different experience while they’re here.
What is one personal habit that has helped you to be successful?
I think my greatest asset is in the relationships I have created and maintained both in the ski and in the tourism industries. I’ve tried my best to be easy to work with and to treat each person I deal with (whether it’s journalists, fellow tourism ambassadors) with respect and honesty.
Please share one instance where a guest had a moving or emotional reaction to the experience you provided to them.
While staging an event in downtown Calgary, where we trucked snow from Sunshine Village and set up a rail jam in the middle of the street, a family from Australia who had never seen snow got to touch it for the first time. It was a memory that the three kids will not soon forget, I’m sure.