The Ultimate Adventure and Luxury Guide to Banff National Park
Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada is both an adventure and a luxury dream destination. Not only does the park have incredible outdoor attractions such as mountains, lakes, and forests, it’s home to some very luxurious hotels with all the amenities.
On my recent trip to Banff National Park as a part of the Seeker Project by Le Club AccorHotels, I had the opportunity to stay at two of these luxury properties, the Fairmont Banff Springs as well as the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. Staying at these hotels not only put me in close proximity to all of the nearby attractions, it also provided me with amazing amenities and things to do right in the hotels themselves.
The Ultimate Adventure and Luxury Guide to Banff National Park
How to Get to Banff National Park
The easiest and most time-efficient way to get to Banff National Park is to fly into Calgary International Airport and then rent a car. Renting a car will not only get you into the park, but it will allow you to explore everything the park has to offer on your own schedule.
That said, if you’re not into renting a car, there’s a shuttle that regularly goes from the Calgary Airport to both the town of Banff and Lake Louise.
The Best Time to Visit Banff National Park
The best time to visit Banff completely depends on what you expect to get from your experience. Banff in winter is a total wonderland, with skiing, ice skating, ice climbing, and snowshoeing options.
Summertime in Banff gets quite busy, but is an awesome time to visit for hiking, swimming, and canoeing.
If you are looking for all the benefits of the area but with mild days and fewer crowds, then the shoulder season is the way to go. Just note that the lakes tend to freeze over early November, and there are seasonal closures that come with icy roads.
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Fairmont Properties in Banff National Park
Fairmont Banff Springs
Having originally opened in 1888 after Canadian Pacific Railway built a rail through the area, the Fairmont Banff Springs is a grand, historic property important to Canadian history. After a few decades in operation, the original hotel burned down and was replaced in 1928 with what we see today — an amazing, castle-like building with luxurious amenities.
Due to my Le Club AccorHotels Membership (the points membership associated with the Fairmont), I stayed on the Gold Luxury Floor where the service was impeccable and the amenities were abundant. Each day I was treated to complimentary breakfast and snacks, the use of a pair of sneakers courtesy of the hotel’s partnership with Reebok, as well as yoga and fitness classes.
In addition to those amenities, I treated myself to a relaxing afternoon at the hotel’s Willow Stream Spa, I had a fabulous, and filling Afternoon Tea in the Rundle Lounge (the views from that room are unreal), and I took advantage of their fully-equipped gym.
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
Just a 40 minute drive from Banff, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is a luxurious spot surrounded by mountains, a very turquoise Lake Louise, and the Victoria Glacier. The hotel itself is an oasis home to some great restaurants, an awesome wellness program, mountain adventure excursions, and comfortable, spacious suites.
During my stay at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, I took advantage of their Suite Life program, in which a dedicated Concierge helped me with everything from making dining reservations, to booking activities and transportation.
Additionally, the hotel’s Suite Life gave me access to a complimentary breakfast, valet parking, nightly turndown service, and even fresh cut flowers.
Another element to staying in a Fairmont property is recognition of their dedication to waste management and sustainability. I was super impressed to hear that not only did they have scales in each of their restaurants to gauge food waste, they also were dedicated in scaling back water usage whenever possible.
Le Club AccorHotels
Le Club AccorHotels is a membership program associated with these two Fairmont properties that will allow you to enjoy benefits at any participating AccorHotels location in the world. Not only does this mean you’ll earn points for each of your stays, you’ll receive benefits with their partners, have early-bird access to sales, and enjoy elite experiences.
The Seeker Project
The Seeker Project, developed by Le Club AccorHotels, was born out of the belief that a key element to luxury is the anticipation of needs. The project immerses guests in an interactive sensory experience that measures behavioral and biometric responses to help determine what kind of experience that person is craving. As a result, it’s remarkably accurate!
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Restaurant Options at the Fairmont Properties in Banff
The Rundle Lounge
Known as being the Afternoon Tea room at the Fairmont Banff Springs, the Rundle Lounge has a great atmosphere, some of the best views from the hotel, a great menu, and excellent hand-crafted cocktails.
The Vermillion Room
Also located right in the Fairmont Banff Springs, the atmospheric and bustling Vermillion Room serves up French-inspired dishes as well as the Canadian classics. If you’re looking to try something new for brunch, I definitely recommend hitting up their weekend buffet – it’s delicious!
A modern Italian restaurant located in a charming room of the Fairmont Banff Springs, Castello Ristorante has all the pasta, pizza, and even salad options you could want.
A buzzing spot with many great comfort-food menu options, dining at Alpine Social in the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise will make you feel right at home. Take in the ambiance while you try out one of the many local craft beers they have on tap.
A lounge with food options as incredible as the view, Lakeview Lounge in Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is an iconic Canadian lounge with an elegant yet laid-back atmosphere. Definitely come here to nibble on some appetizers as you try one of their delicious cocktails.
During your stay at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, stopping in at Poppy Brasserie for brunch is an absolute must. They have a wide array of options, including a full omelette station.
Things to do in Banff National Park
Visit the Spa
Both hotels have amazing spa services, complete with massage, facial, and treatment rooms. Plus, the Fairmont Banff Springs also has a mineral pool, and three waterfall treatment whirlpools.
Go on a Self-Guided Photo Tour
In a place as beautiful as Banff National Park, there are many photo spots to be taken advantage of. Some of my favorites are the view from the Fairmont Banff Springs, Lake Minnewanka, the Fairview Lookout, Johnston Canyon, and Vermillion Lakes.
Hike Johnston Canyon
Taking a hike through Johnston Canyon is a total must-do during a visit to Banff. This leisurely hike will take you through Lower Falls, Upper Falls, Horseshoe Bend, and up to the Ink Pots.
Go on a Mountain Adventure
While staying at Lake Louise, be sure to hire a guide at the hotel to take you up on a mountain adventure. In my case, we hiked from the Chateau to Fairview Lookout and not only was our guide extremely personable and thoughtful, he was knowledgeable as well.
Explore Lake Louise
No matter what time of year you visit, exploring Lake Louise will be a highlight of your trip. In the summer, rent a canoe and hit the water, or hike on one of the many trails in the area. In the winter, make sure the water is frozen over and then either take a walk on the lake or strap on a pair of ice skates.
Also note that there are some gorgeous waterfalls on the far side of Lake Louise. The first will be near the back to the right as you walk away from the Fairmont Lake Louise, and the second at the very back of the lake once the main path ends and a horse trail begins.
Take a Gondola Ride
Did you know that both Banff and Lake Louise have their own Gondolas? It’s true, and both offer amazing views (and photography opportunities) of the landscape.
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My trip to Banff was part of a travel campaign with Travel Mindset and Le Club Accor Hotels. As always, all opinions are my own.
Where was the first photo in this post taken (with the waterfall and large rock)?
Johnston Canyon. The last time I was in Alberta though, this area was closed off due to nesting birds.