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.
By AFAR Traveler
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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.
The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is the perfect base for winter family adventures. An in-house gear shop can outfit guests with hockey equipment or ice skates, and the lake’s ice castle provides an Instagram-worthy backdrop for photos. The hotel’s on-site activity outfitter, Mountain Heritage, leads guided snowshoe and cross-country ski tours straight from the back door. On the edge of the lake, a small shed showcases a collection of vintage European skis and snowshoes that are available to rent. In the evenings, guests can get a taste of Switzerland with an authentic Swiss fondue dinner at Walliser Stube restaurant. From $266.
This appeared in the November/ December 2014 issue.
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.
By AFAR Traveler
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.