We have always loved the Banff Springs Hotel. We have never stayed at it before, it would be well out of our budget. Now that we are employed by Fairmont we took the opportunity to use our employee discount for a weekend away. The Banff Springs is a former Canadian Pacific Railway hotel. It was first opened to the public in 1888. It was built in a Scottish Baronial style and sits like a castle among the Rocky Mountains.
A View With A Room
We had a pleasant surprise when we checked in. The lady informed us that we had been upgraded to a deluxe king suite. It was thanks to a fellow employee who used to work at the Banff Springs and now worked with Jack at the Chateau Lake Louise. Jack had told him we were going for the weekend. He said he would make a phone call to get us a better room. Boy, did her ever. I can’t imagine how much this would have normally cost, at minimum it would be $500 a night for sure.
The room was huge, especially for the Banff Springs, since we have heard the regular rooms can be a bit on the small side. We had a view of the golf course, the Bow river and beautiful mountains.
The exterior of the hotel has a majestic castle like appearance and on the interior they have managed to keep the old world charm of the hotel.
We Ate, And Ate, And Then Ate Some More
The hotel has numerous restaurants, there is something to suit every one’s taste. It can be very expensive to eat at the hotel. We found the prices high even with our generous discount, but the food was excellent in every restaurant we tried.
The deli is the best option for cheap breakfasts and lighter meals and snacks. We were impressed with the selection at the deli. For breakfast they had cereals, toast, bagels, porridge, scrambled eggs and fruit. During the rest of the day there are sandwiches, soups and other snacks. You can get just about any kind of beverage as well, included lattes.
The pub on the golf course has some more reasonable priced food as well. We really wanted to try the cheese fondue we have been hearing about. We had the assorted vegetable fondue to start. The cheese sauce was delicious. For dessert we had the chocolate fondue, it came with a selection of fruit for dipping. Afterwards we were so full we could hardly walk back to our hotel room.
We had another meal at the Italian restaurant. Jack tried the eggplant parmesan and I had the grilled swordfish. The prices are definitely higher at this restaurant, but the service was excellent and the food was of high quality and delicious.
There are lots of neat little areas to sit and have a drink or some tea and goodies. On the main floor there is a room where you can find a little nook with a comfy couch to sit on. Or if you want a view there is a sun room at the back where you can enjoy the mountain scenery.
Time To Walk Off Some Of That Food!
There are many activities to keep you occupied during your stay. The concierge desk will gladly provide you with a map of many walking trails. They will give suggestions of which ones to take according to the length of time and level of difficulty if you want to do a hike. If you are staying in the winter they will also let you know which ones are inaccessible due to high amounts of snow. We decided to walk through the golf course. It gives some great views of the mountains and a look back at the hotel and it’s property.
Exploring The Hotel
A couple of hours or more can easily be spent exploring the hotel itself. The architecture and woodwork are beautiful. There are several different shops and a large wine store that offers tastings. They have a large amount of Canadian wines in stock.
There are two sections to the hotel that can be accessed by a connecting interior hallway. The original part of the hotel has all the rooms, restaurants and shops. The other side is a new building and has large conference and ballrooms. On this side there is also a theater where performances are held and a bowling alley.
It’s well worth wandering all through the hotel. When we were walking around we came across several rooms and areas that we had completely to ourselves. There is a large open area upstairs that has just a few tables and chairs. The huge windows look out to the mountain views. Unless there is an event going on, you could bring your coffee or tea up there and sit and enjoy the views in total silence. Another area that seemed to have no one in it was a sun room. It had a whole wall of windows with another great view.
There are several other lounge areas as well as an old bar section that overlooks a sitting area. Be sure to check out the ladies washroom that has a huge sitting lounge right in the facilities. Sorry I can’t give directions to where it is exactly, but I know it was near a stone set of spiral stairs.
On one of the upper floors there is an open area that displays archival pictures and historical artifacts for the hotel. The images show the many famous people that have visited the hotel. Many celebrities still come to stay at the property. There is a tour you can take where you will learn some of the history. One of the concierge men usually hosts the tour. He has been employed at the hotel for several decades. He does a fantastic job of telling the history and can give many personal stories about the experiences he has had with celebrities, diplomats and royalty that have stayed there.
A couple of weddings were being held during our stay. One of them was in an room in an older section of the hotel. The tables and the decorations were beautiful. What an amazing setting for a winter wedding.
Ahhhhh, The Spaaaaaaa
Unfortunately we were not allowed to take any pictures in the hotel spa. We treated ourselves to a day pass that allows entrance into the spa pool facilities. It was a little pricey, but well worth it. There is a large indoor heated pool with lap sections and a giant outdoor heated pool where everyone seems to gather to socialize.
The facilities inside the Willow Stream spa are an oasis of tranquility. Our day pass gave us access to the private eucalyptus steam rooms and saunas. There is also an inside and outside whirlpool that is only accessible to spa guests. The best part is the mineral pool. There are three cascading waterfalls, each at a different temperature. You start off in the hottest waterfall pool and allow the pounding water to give you an invigorating muscle massage. When you are done with the coolest of the falls you enter the large mineral pool and remain in it for at least fifteen minutes. The sequence of pools is supposed to detoxify your body. If anything it certainly relaxes you.
Around the mineral pools you can rest on lounge chairs or for the ultimate zen experience you can throw on the provided robe and go to the relaxation room. There are large plush chairs and ottomans that you can sink into. You can sit and enjoy the amazing view of the mountains out the windows, read a magazine or book, or even have a nap. A delicious spa menu is available and the waiter will deliver it right to your chair. You can also take advantage of the free cucumber water, fruit, muffins, cookies, coffee and tea.
We didn’t have any actual spa treatments, but we plan to go back some time in the future and treat ourselves to some. We’ll do a whole review of our treatments when we do. If you have a treatment the entrance to to the mineral pools and other spa areas are included.
Overall it was a great relaxing weekend getaway that I’m sure we will do again.