Author: Debbie Olsen

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Sometimes life gets in the way and makes it challenging to get facetime with the ones we love, but every so often the universe shines on us.  

Two Alberta families felt that sunshine this summer when they won the Grab Summer Contest sponsored by Travel Alberta, Corus and Air Canada. Each winner was given four Air Canada round-trip economy class tickets to invite their family & friends to visit Alberta and experience a special travel destination within the province. All they had to do to win was tell the contest judges about their favourite hidden gem destination in Alberta. 

Calgary Winner: Geoffrey Batten 

For Geoffrey and Sandra Batten of Calgary, winning the tickets meant they could get their four adult children together in one place with them for the first time since 1998. They used their airline tickets to bring their son Justin Batten and his partner Heidi Frankfurt to Alberta from Prince Edward Island and their daughter Samantha Batten and her husband Matt Boczkowski from Toronto. Their other two children live in Alberta, so they were able to drive to Calgary and enjoy some family time with their siblings. 

“My favourite hidden gem destination is the Canadian Badlands, so that’s where we went first,” said Geoffrey. “Our guests were fascinated by the landscape and the history of this region.” The group explored Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site and visited the Last Chance Saloon in the tiny ghost town of Wayne. They also spent an evening in the village of Rosebud where they enjoyed a lovely dinner and took in a live theatrical production in the playhouse. 

“Our family from Prince Edward Island had never been to Alberta before and they were absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to experience it,” explained Sandra. “We spent a week exploring the badlands, the Canadian Rockies and the shopping malls near Calgary. We had so much fun showing our children around Alberta. It’s a great place to live and to visit.”   

Edmonton Winner: Cindy Kirby 

You’re never too old to try something new. At least that’s what Cindy Kirby believes. Cindy and her husband Basil Kirby used their free airline tickets to invite long-time friends to explore Alberta’s Cowboy Trail and experience a ranch stay and horseback riding at Sierra West Cabins near Lundbreck.    

“It had been a long time since I’d been on the back of a horse and three of our friends had never ridden before,” Cindy admitted. “The cabins, the ranch, the beauty of the countryside and the friendliness of ranch owners Randy and Ginny Donahue made our visit an unforgettable experience.”  

The Kirbys and their friends Linda and Wally Kaminski from Regina and Gina and Cliff Bebber from Manitoba enjoyed a two-night stay at the ranch with meals included. They experienced horseback riding, tried their hand at roping, enjoyed delicious home-cooked meals with their ranch hosts and just relaxed surrounded by the incredible scenery of the foothills and mountains.   

“One afternoon we drove to Waterton Lakes National Park, another hidden gem destination,” said Cindy. “We took in the amazing mountain views behind the Prince of Wales Hotel, checked out the little shops in the town site and walked around the edge of the lake. We loved showing our friends around some of our favourite places in Alberta and we made memories we’ll always treasure.”

Activity Highlights
  • Dining
  • Horseback Riding
  • Sightseeing Tours
  • Unique Stays
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