Author: Susan Fogwell
If you really want to treat yourself to a special place, I would highly recommend the Banff Springs Fairmont Hotel. Staying there, for me, was not only a treat, but one of the best vacations I have ever had. The main thing that stood out during my five-day stint was that absolutely nothing went wrong. And another positive plus, Canadian's are genuinely friendly. Without a doubt, this hotel, and , are on my top ten favorite places in the world. (I visited in the summer)
The castle-hotel is less than a 2-hour drive from the Calgary International Airport. You'll drive through a wildly beautiful landscape with an endless horizon. The castle is truly a Baronial Scottish masterpiece and undoubtedly rivals castles in Europe. It's a 118 year-old historical landmark perched on a hill surrounded my mountains with ideal hiking trails. From the moment I pulled up, the red carpet was rolled out. Let's just put it this way, before you can even formulate a question, the employees are already answering you. They stand at attention and completely at your service. This was the same level of service that I found at the Shangri-La in Hong Kong. After staying in such places, I always find myself comparing levels of service to these two hotels.
I stayed in room #667, which is the signature suite. Photos of the Prince of Wales and his wife, Wallis Simpson, adorned the walls. While staying there, I felt as though I had traveled back to a bygone era. Back in the 1880s extraordinarily wealthy families spent their summers at the exclusive hotel. Heated volcanic springs had been discovered, which was one of the major draws for them. Amazingly enough, the hotel requested families to wire $50,000 to their hotel accounts just to cover their personal expenses. God only knows how much that equates to today. This was obviously well before income tax and at the height of the gilded era. Just think Newport.
Here's a little bit of Hollywood Trivia. Marilyn Monroe stayed at the hotel during the summer of 1953; she was filming the movie "A River of No Return." For all of you Marilyn Monroe buffs, she stayed in room 816. Apparently, she had a revolving door during most of the summer. There's even a drink at the hotel named after her, the "Fairmont Blonde Bombshell." Order one in the Rundle Lounge where a small band sings songs from the big band era.
Even if you're not staying at the castle, there are hotel tours that should not be missed. They are free of charge. There's also a "Castle Tour." Check the current schedule at the concierge desk.
The Fairmont is also dog-friendly. They offer a dog sitting service, too. Just don't take your dogs out on the trails. It's frowned upon due to the bears and other wildlife.
And yes, I did see a bear, but it was on the drive to the Columbia Icefield, an absolute must-see glacier.
Banff National Park is a UNESCO World heritage Site.