One of the most well-known towns of the province of Alberta, Canada is Banff, located within its namesake Banff National Park, the first Canadian national park to be named. There are 6500 square kilometers of stunning views of mountains, lakes, alpine meadows and glaciers and it is home to a plethora of wildlife including elk and grizzly bears.
Just as famous is the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, a mammoth, magnificent hotel overlooking the Bow River:
A National Historic Site of Canada, the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel has been a shining example of Canadian hospitality from its inception. William Cornelius Van Horne, the General Manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway, first considered constructing a grand hotel in the Canadian Rockies when several employees of his railroad stumbled across several mineral springs in 1883. Noticing a great opportunity to facilitate travel along the Canadian Pacific Railway, Van Horne immediately commissioned blueprints for an impressive hotel that would be situated at the convergence of the Bow and Spray Rivers. Construction began in 1886 and concluded some two years later, rapidly becoming one of the top mountain resorts in North America.
From 1900 to the 1920s, several adjustments were made in order to update the hotel, including the development of the hotel’s iconic 11-story tower. Sadly, much of this work was compromised when a fire burned down the wooden hotel. The replacement structure is made up of steel and limestone. The new building construction retained some of the elements of the original wooden building that were fashioned similar to the chateaus of the Loire Valley on France. As a result, the main block includes massive wall surfaces, steep copper roofs, dormers and gables.
The Banff Springs Hotel briefly shutdown in 1942 as a result of the scarcity in labor due to World War II. It would not reopen until the war ended in 1945. In 1970 it became a tear round resort, In the 1990s, Ted Kissane became the manager of the Banff Springs Hotel and gave it the nickname the “Castle in the Rockies.”
There were a few areas of the hotel that caught my particular interest. The first was the hallway that led to my room. Obviously an edifice this big must have long hallways, but the muted tones of this narrow walkway kind of spooked me – it was too reminiscent of the Overlook Hotel:
Much more impressive, warm and inviting is the Rundle Bar., which is deemed the heart of the hotel. True to its “living room” ambiance, it has numerous, intimate groupings of furniture, soft lighting, nooks and crannies for privacy. Yet its actually size is enormous, with double decker layers of luxury. It contains a cushiony mezzanine overlooking the bar below and that has its own cocktail bar.
One of the original arches adjacent to the grand bar was converted into a floor to ceiling bookshelf with a secret door leading guests to an intimate dining area. I did not get to see its inside secrets.
Feast your eyes and take it from me – the cocktail fare was very tasty indeed.
The views from the outdoor eating area adjoining the bar’s mezzanine were simply spectacular, so I will end with a few pics – enjoy:
Finally, among the lovely cocktails, was this emerald beauty that matched my nails: