Early Flights And Amazing Sights
So, the Rockies had always been on my bucket list of places to visit so when given the chance to visit, under the guise of the Calgary stampede I jumped at the chance!
Flying with Air Canada economy from Heathrow to Calgary, took just under 9 hours, and I was pleasantly surprised by the seat pitch, as previously flights with Air Canada many years ago had proved pretty awful. The service wasn’t the best though! The flight time was great as we arrived at around 3.30pm, so jet lag really didn’t feature for any of us, other than waking up early!
Fairmont Banff Springs
Our first stop was the Fairmont Banff Springs, approx 1.5 hours ride from the airport, a bagpipe welcome and a ginger ale greeted us on arrival to this beautiful region. Staying in Fairmont Gold rooms, I have to admit, I was a little disappointed with my room. It was one of the smallest rooms I have stayed in, especially the bathroom. No bath but a generous walk in shower, I’m not sure I’d have been comfortable with two people in the room. The views were just a delight to wake up to though. Service was fantastic, and the meeting space was simply huge, any type of meeting space you need is pretty much here. The hotel did feel a little tired, however, with 100% occupancy most of the year perhaps it doesn’t warrant a makeover!
Whilst in Banff we took a gentle raft float on the river, our tour guide was one of the best in the area, and actually more inspiring than the scenery (which was no easy feat). It was a brilliant way to see the area, but more so enjoy the tales that the guide regaled us with on his many years as an oarsman. Made me feel my life in an office is rather inadequate compared to his!
Fairmont Chateaeu Lake Louise
Onto the Chateau Lake Louise. Wow! This pretty much sums up my reaction. Lake Louise has quickly become one of my favourite places, absolutely stunning scenery that reminds you how gorgeous our planet is! Opening my curtains at dawn to one of the most breathtaking scenes, of a glacier on top of a mountain perfectly reflected into the turquoise lake will be an image that will remain with me! Getting out for an early morning run wasn’t a chore, it was a delight as it gave me a chance to take in the fresh mountain air and peaceful surroundings.
I’ll add here that Fairmont offers guests free Adidas gym wear! Including trainers, to save you carrying your own, personally as a keen exerciser, this is one of my favourite benefits of any hotel chain I’d stayed with. If you become a Fairmont member online, all your personal preferences such as gym wear, pillow preference etc…will all be stored and waiting in your room when you check in (simply a great idea). Also by joining online you gain free wi-fi during your stay.
At the lake, we took an early morning canoe trip with another local legend oarsman. The lake was still and serene but being on the turquoise pristine water dwarfed by the surrounding mountains and glacier is an experience not to be missed. The views from the lake to the hotel really showcases the beautiful spot this hotel commands.
The rooms are more spacious here, and I preferred the overall decor. Service was again excellent.
Onwards to lunch, needless to say the Canadian hospitality ensured we left with too big a belly but the food was great, and lots of opportunities for groups to do barn dance evenings, with huge sides of beef brought in on pitch forks. To our surprise, and delight strangely we did run into 3 grizzly bears whilst coming out from lunch! Our first reaction was to reach for our cameras, and then we recalled we were not at Whipsnade Zoo and these were in fact real bears! But it was a special treat for us all and reminds you of the true wilderness of this region.
Next week I’ll give you a cowboys (cowgirls) guide to all that goes on during the Stampede season…
Jo Randall, Events Team