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Photo courtesy of Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel was the brainchild of Sir William Cornelius Van Horne, president of the Canadian Pacific Railway. On arrival at Banff, the tourism visionary made the canny observation, "Since we can’t export the scenery, we'll have to import the tourists"; thus, he set about building a string of great railway hotels across Canada. The original wooden hotel that opened here in 1888 burned down in 1926, but was replaced two years later with the grander castle-meets-baronial-Scottish-hall structure that exists today. The public lobby spaces are vast, and there are countless nooks to curl up in with a book where guests will remain undisturbed. With its signature stone walls, turrets, and winding staircases, Van Horne’s gambit paid off: The Fairmont Banff Springs feels for all the world like an elegant and ancient castle, albeit one with all the modern conveniences. Rooms in the main building come with quirky period details such as chandeliers and crown moldings; those in the Stanley Thompson Wing (the old staff quarters) are more spacious and a solid bet for families—who will also enjoy the kids’ club packed with activities such as campouts, science projects, and arts and crafts. Foodies will not be disappointed: The hotel has 11 different restaurants, cafés, and bars. So much choice, in fact, that guests are issued with a food guide upon check-in to help them make the most of the hotel's offerings, which range from Japanese to Canadian via Italy and the southern United States.
By Nikki Bayley, AFAR Local Expert
Castle in the Mountains
Spending the night in a national park usually means sleeping in a tent, or maybe the comforts of a cabin. But Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada is home to the castle-like Fairmont Banff Springs resorts. Originally built by the Canadian Pacific Railway company in the late 1880s, the design was modeled after a Scottish baronial castle. The hotel is largely responsible for helping bring tourism to Western Canada. Today, the hotel is a great summer or winter base for exploring Banff and nearby Lake Louise and Jasper. The town of Banff is just a ten-minute walk down from the hotel and skiing at Lake Louise or Sunshine Village is less than an hour away. It's easy not to leave the property. Most rooms have distractingly gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains and lakes. Guests should take advantage of the Willow Stream Spa, which is styled after the hot springs that travelers came to soak in years ago. After a day in the elements, soak in the spa's mineral pool or the outdoor heated pool. After a day of snowboarding, I nourished my skin with the Rockies Rehydration treatment, which included a dry-brush exfoliation and a massage that used mineral cream blended with organic essences of juniper and fennel.
By Jen Murphy, AFAR Contributor
Legend Has It
Visiting the legendary Fairmont Banff Springs Resort is like walking through a history lesson. Kids will love all the pictures of the hotel’s old days, as well as the castle-like feeling of the stone halls and archways, built over 125 years ago. Designed by famed New York architect Bruce Price and built by the Canadian Pacific Railway, Banff Springs opened in the summer of 1888 and instantly became known as one of the finest hotels in North America. From the Queen of England to the Queen of Hollywood—Marilyn Monroe—a long list of luminaries have come here to stay.
Try to Keep Your Eye on the Ball
Golfing in the Canadian Rockies can be a challenge. Not only do the world-class courses test every skill level, but golfers here face the added challenge of keeping focused on their swing while they're surrounded by such stunning mountain scenery. While it varies a little according to how early the snows come and how late they stay, golf courses in the Rockies are generally open from May through October. Check out the greens at the Fairmont Banff Springs and Brewster’s Kananaskis Ranch Golf Course. There are single games, packages, and lessons as well as rental clubs and shoes available. You just have to bring your game; Banff provides the views.
Fairmont Banff Springs, Alberta
A true landmark that has welcomed guests for more than 125 years, the famous Fairmont Banff Springs is set amongst the beauty of the alpine town of Banff in the heart of Canada's Rocky Mountains and Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Referred to as Canada’s “Castle in the Rockies,” it is styled after a Scottish baronial castle. This year-round luxury mountain resort features incredible and unforgettable views, supreme skiing, the award-winning Willow Stream spa, 27 holes of championship golf, and 13 dining venues and lounges showcasing real Alberta produce.
405 Spray Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1J4, Canada