The Fairmont Banff Springs is an internationally renowned symbol of Canadian hospitality. Few hotels in the world rival the majesty and grandeur of this historical resort, (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), located in the heart of Banff National Park. Styled after a Scottish Baronial Castle, the Fairmont Banff Springs has provided a warm welcome for guests from around the world for over 125 years. The opening of the hotel in 1888 marked the birthplace of tourism in the Canadian Rockies, and plays host to tourists, business travelers, and sports enthusiasts ever since.
Banff National Park is Canada’s oldest national park established in 1885 in the Rocky Mountains in the province of Alberta, and encompasses 2,564 square miles of mountainous terrain, numerous glaciers and ice fields, dense forest and majestic alpine landscapes. Although it was founded in 1885, winter tourism didn’t begin until 1917 with the first Banff Winter Carnival which featured a large ice palace built by the internees. Carnival events included cross-country skiing, ski jumping, curling, snowshoe, and skijoring.
The main commercial center of the park is the town of Banff, in the beautiful Bow River Valley. Arriving in Banff, Splash Magazine editor-in-chief Lawrence Davis and I checked into the luxurious Fairmont Banff Springs, a breathtaking 768 room hotel, who's “old world” exterior, hides a completely remodeled, state-of-the-art interior. Simply staying at this historic castle feels like a vacation in itself, complete with all the amenities you would expect from a 5-star resort. But don't take my word for it, see for yourself.
Ask to join the President’s Club upon check-in, and get free internet, local calls, daily newspaper and more. The rooms are gorgeous, with cozy rooms tucked away in quiet corners of the castle, to spacious suites with sweeping Alberta mountain views. The bathrooms have marble countertops, whirpool bathtub and separate shower. A table and chairs are also provided if you still feel the need to work, (but don’t do it), just relax and take it all in, you're on vacation remember?
Every morning bright and early, we enjoyed the delicious breakfast buffet in the The Bow Valley Grill. The sumptuous breakfast buffet includes a spectacular array of fresh fruits, omelets made to order, yogurts, freshly baked breads, pastries and more. I particularly enjoyed the french toast made with croissants instead of bread, and the authentic Canadian bacon and sausage is fantastic. If you prefer, you can still order all of your traditional favorites from their à la carte menu, but trust me, you’ll want to try the buffet so you can sample a little bit everything.
The restaurant is designed with an impressive open kitchen that provides an opportunity to see their talented chefs in action. The room is framed with large picture windows looking out over the majestic Fairholme Mountain Range so you can enjoy a hearty breakfast while watching the sunrise. This inspired us before setting out on our daily winter adventure which included skiing, dogsledding, snowshoeing, and an ice walk through Johnston Canyon (featuring 100 foot frozen waterfalls).
The Bow Valley Grill also offers a “Taste of the Castle” dinner buffet to savor the finest and freshest regional cuisine. Just be sure and save some room for the homemade delectable desserts. What’s unique about the Bow Valley Grill is that it offers a relaxing atmosphere that celebrates the spirit of the great outdoors, complete with handcrafted sculptures and tables that are constructed by local Albertan artisans.
One evening, Lawrence and I enjoyed an exceptional dining experience at The Waldhaus Restaurant, the “House in the Forest”. Located away from Banff's busy streets, The Waldhaus offers a rich assortment of authentic Swiss and German dishes in an atmosphere reminiscent of an old hunting cottage with dark, rich wood paneling, a large fireplace and a beautiful wine cabinet housing an excellent wine selection. Lawrence had the Alberta Rainbow Trout with fingerling potatoes and asparagus, and I had the beef tenderloin and braisd short rib with gratin potatoes. The food was prepared to perfection, the service was excellent, and the chef even came out to say hello. We finished off the evening with some incredible bavarian desserts which were all superb.
Located beneath the Waldhaus Restaurant is Banff's best kept secret, the Waldhaus Pub. This unique hideaway offers a casual atmosphere with a fantastic menu, flat screen TV's, and includes a dartboard and pool table to challenge your friends. The Waldhaus Pub Patio boasts the most breathtaking views of the Bow Valley surrounded by the majestic Rundle, Sulphur and Tunnel Mountains. Enjoy a wide variety of menu choices including Bavarian delights and authentic Weissbier or Dunkel beers. Be sure and ask the Hotel Bellman for a shuttle ride down to the restaurant or Pub (and back) though, it’s a little too far to walk.
The Fairmont Banff Springs offer other restaurant choices as well, including The Baffshire Club, (The Castle in the Rockies signature dining room), Castello Ristorante, Samarai Bar and Restaurant, Rundle Lounge, Ramsay Lounge, Grapes Wine Bar, and the Castle Pantry to nam e a few. Daily Wine tastings are also available, just stop by the Authentically Local Wine Store for a wine tasting with the sommelier. Each day features a different wine or Scotch selection for tasting. Reservations are not required, and the cost is just $10 per person.
Want to just relax and dine in the privacy and comfort of your own room? Let one of the renowned chefs whip you up something special from the In-Room Dining menu offering a selection of the finest cuisine. A sample of the all day menu includes, Bistro Salad, Dim Sum, Smoked Salmon Flat Bread, Applewood Smoked Chicken Club Sandwich, Pork Tenderloin, Baked BC Salmon, AAA Alberta New York Steak, Roasted Rack of Lamb and Thai Curry Spiced Prawns and much more. Other services available include Afternoon Tea, Castle Pizza, Reception Menu Packages, Packed Lunches and Picnic Baskets to take with you.
The Fairmont chain of Hotels and Resorts also offer health conscious menus as well, using fresh and nutritionally balanced ingredients. Fairmont Lifestyle Cuisine dishes contribute to optimal health and wellness. Additionally, they are pleased to offer you Lifestyle Cuisine Plus, nutritious meals catering to guests with a specific diet-dependent needs such as diabetes, heart disease and gluten-free, as well as unique dietary preferences including macrobiotic, raw and vegan diets.
The Fairmont Banff Springs also offers a monetary break for parents with the Kids Eat Free deal, which can be particularly important for families traveling with children and on a budget. Kids age 5 and under eat for free, while kids 12 and under can choose from a special kids menu, or order off the regular menu at 50% off. Now that’s what I call a happy meal!
The Fairmont Banff Springs even has it's own museum with a video presentation and guided tour of the castle. Hear the interesting stories and learn about the rich history of this 125 year old landmark which is both fun and educational for the whole family. Check out the photos of past guests including visiting dignitaries and celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Benny Goodman, Helen Keller, King George VI, Queen Elizabeth, and many others.
Want to pamper yourself after a day on the mountain? The Fairmont Banff Springs' Willow Stream spa is the answer, where you can relax, refresh and rejuvenate both your mind and body. Surrounded by incredible mountain vistas, ancient glaciers and emerald waters, the Willow Stream offers a serene location guaranteed to restore your balance & energy. Spend time with one of the certified personal trainers, or simply allow the licensed therapists to massage away tense muscles. Prepare to look and feel your best as you shrug off the stress of winter, welcome spring and refresh your mind, body and soul.
The Willow Stream spa facility includes private men’s and ladies steam room, whirlpool, sauna and eucalyptus inhalation room, three waterfall treatment whirlpools, an indoor European mineral pool, outdoor whirlpool, spa terraces, private and co-ed resting lounges and deluxe couples suites. There is also a 32-metre lap pool, indoor hot tub and a 20-metre outdoor heated pool (open year round). The Aquatic Center offers an assortment of foam floatation devices that both children and adults alike use to float around in nirvana. Want a cool drink or cocktail without leaving the water? No problem, a waiter will take your drink order poolside.
The Fairmont Banff Springs is the recipient of many awards. In 2010 alone, the hotel garnered the Forbes Travel Guide – “4 Star Award”, Celebrated Livings – “Readers Choice Platinum List” as the number one choice for International Spas, Conde Nast Traveler – “Rated 3rd in Canada for top spas”, and one of five winners in each of the following categories for Spa Magazine – “Favorite Mineral Springs Spas”, “Favorite Spas for Couples” – “International and Favorite Resort & Hotel Spas” – Canada.
The Fairmont Banff Springs even has it's own museum where visitors can see photos from past and get a guided tour of the castle from it's very own historical curator Joe SCmoe. There is an amazing collection of photos from a bygone era including it's visitong dignitaries and celebrites including Marilyn Monroe, .....
If skiing, ice walking, snowshoeing, hiking, fishing, canoeing, and a myriad of sports activities all year round aren't enough, try Fairmont Banff Springs captivating and challenging 27-hole championship golf course. Originally designed in 1928 by Canada's master golf course architect, Stanley Thompson, the course winds along the Bow River and under the snow-capped peaks of Sulphur Mountain and Mount Rundle. Seasonal dates are May 31st – Oct. 1st.
In town for the winter activities but still want to swing a club and play a round of golf? No problem. The Fairmont Banff Springs Resort offers an amazing “virtual” recreation of the famous Thompson course, with exact yardage, fairways, bunkers and greens. The “play” is so realistic, you might forget you’re actually indoors. Unfortunately, the one thing you won’t get is a tan. Golf lessons are also available year-round from Fairmont’s friendly and knowledgeable golf pros.
The Fairmont Banff Springs offer an assortment of hotel vacation packages, so you can experience the splendor and beauty of the Banff National Park, and then return home to your world-class accommodations. There are a number of year round activities where they will supply everything from champagne to lift tickets. Each Banff vacation package has been designed with your absolute comfort and enjoyment in mind, and guarantee that every attention to detail will ensure your stay against the majestic backdrop of the Rocky Mountains will be exceptional.
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts provide partner programs making it easy for you to book your vacation or business trip with special partner rates when you make your Banff Springs hotel reservations online. Check the Banff Springs Hotel rates and availability for CAA and AAA discounted rates. The Fairmont Hotels also offer Senior Citizen discounts and special travel offers. Take advantage of their hospitality and make your escape to any of the luxurious Fairmont Hotels & Resorts worldwide including the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
For more information about any of the world-class Fairmont Hotels, or to make reservations, visit the website http://www.fairmont.com/