Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

111 Lake Louise Dr, Lake Louise, AB T0L 1E0, Canada

One of Canada’s most iconic hotels, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is cradled by the Rocky Mountains, its grand, castle-like structure surrounded by towering peaks and the pristine, protected wilderness of Banff National Park. The hotel was founded in 1890 by Cornelius Van Horne, the general manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway, who envisioned creating a refuge for “the outdoor adventurer and alpinist.” What began as a one-story log cabin ended up helping to kick-start tourism in the Canadian Rockies, launch the Canadian mountaineering scene, and draw a host of notable names to the region, from Marilyn Monroe to Queen Elizabeth II.

Today, guests arrive in a grand lobby outfitted with imposing chandeliers and sweeping staircases. Common areas are decorated with old-timey photos from the hotel’s past, while the 552 spacious rooms and suites are all about showcasing views of the stunning turquoise lake and snowcapped Victoria Glacier. There are plenty of activities to enjoy year-round, from canoeing, hiking, fishing, rafting, and horseback riding in warmer weather, to skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, and snowmobiling in the winter. In between, savor everything from European alpine dishes, authentic Italian fare, and Canadian comfort food to a large selection of bourbons and whiskeys at the seven dining outlets, or head to the spa and health club for a pampering treatment or dip in the indoor heated pool.

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Hand-Painted Doors at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

There are lots of reasons to stay at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, the most important being, well, Lake Louise. The hotel is right next to it. There’s also the variety of taxidermied animal heads hanging on the walls in the lobby—musk ox, bison, elk. But one detail that might not get much notice is this: In one section of the hotel, all the room doors have designs that were hand-painted by a long-term guest of the hotel way back when. Nice touch.

Old School X-C Skiing in Lake Louise

One of the most picturesque places to explore by x-c ski is Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada. The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is set right on the lake and has its own ski rental shop as well as in-house guides who give lessons as well as offer x-c ski tours around the lake and up in the trails of Banff National Park. Our guide Bruce was a real character, straight out of a Swiss mountain village (though really from the nearby town of Field). He looked at our “modern” x-c skis and then showed us the hotel’s vintage collection of 1970s Norwegian x-c skis that are made from hickory wood. They were real beauties and worked just as well as our plastic versions so we swapped the new for the old and set off on newly-groomed tracks across Lake Louise. Bruce took us on a two-hour tour to the back of the lake. I’m not a downhill skier so I tend to get nervous on skis, but he had me gliding down “dipsy doodles” as he liked to call the downhills, in no time at all. Bruce paused along the way to point out critters like a red squirrel and the tracks of a hare imprinted in the snow. At the end of the trail we came to a frozen waterfall glowing an ethereal crystal blue color. We didn’t see another person out on the trails. It was a magical way to explore the park.

Sunrise Canoe Trip on Lake Louise

A sunrise paddle on Lake Louise is a once in a lifetime experience. It is an early start to the day, but well worth it. The canoe trip is a popular activity during the summer months so contact the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise concierge well in advance to avoid disappointment.

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, Alberta

The iconic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, surrounded by majestic mountain peaks, Victoria Glacier, and its namesake turquoise lake, is set within Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The stunningly scenic historic property remains as “base camp” for all things active in the park throughout the year. World-class hiking trails are merely steps from the hotel and the property’s certified Mountain Heritage Guides, a Swiss tradition dating back to the early 1900’s, are at the ready to help guests experience them. Winter brings world-class skiing just 10 minutes from the hotel with a free shuttle to the slopes. There is also snow shoeing, cross country skiing, ice skating, dog sledding, snowmobiling, horse-drawn carriage rides, and more to enjoy. The local cuisine at one of the hotel’s seven dining outlets deliciously fuels guests’ outdoor adventures.

Chateau Lake Louise

March 8th, 2011 Lake Louise is a great big mountain ski destination. Many people drop off and stay in Banff. because there is no night life in Lake Louise. I’m not even certain that there is a town. But there are a few good lodging options and the 3000+ vertical awaits just across the valley floor. If you can swing it, you cannot beat the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise as far as scenery, dining and things to do.

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