Yes, the skiing is always important on a ski trip, but as a travel company, we know that where you stay can take a ski vacation from good to great. With our portfolio of 4,000+ lodging properties at 120 ski resorts worldwide, we have a lot of options., and our Mountain Vacation Specialists know the top echelon of hotels, lodges and resorts that please our clients every time. Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel and Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise are two such properties.
Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
Known as Canada’s “Castle in the Rockies,” Fairmont Banff Springs lives up to its dramatic surroundings. The property is a destination in itself with 728 guestrooms, 11 restaurants, a world-class golf course, the elegant Willow Stream Spa, and easy access to skiing on Mt. Norquay, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise Ski Resort.
Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel’s Famous Beginnings
When railroads began crisscrossing Alberta, Banff’s tourism potential was quickly recognized. “Since we can’t export the scenery, we’ll have to import the tourists,” said William Cornelius Van Horne, the general manager of Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR).
In 1886, CPR began developing luxury hotels to house those imports, and Fairmont Banff Springs opened its doors on June 1, 1888, charging $2.60 a night. Interestingly, the hotel was built backwards, with the back-of-the-house positioned to enjoy the best views. After someone realized they had been reading the blueprints in reverse, adjustments were made and the hotel was repositioned.
Over the years, the hotel was host to many famous guests, including Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio who visited in 1953 while Monroe was filming River of No Return. Here’s a video slideshow with some private moments between Marilyn and Joe in Banff.
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
Originally built as a base camp for alpinists, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise retains the remote charm that attracted outdoorsmen 100 years ago. The grand hotel is situated on the shores of the sparkling Lake Louise. In summer months, the emerald waters captivate visitors, and in winter months, the lake’s surface transforms into a spectacular ice-skating rink surrounded by dramatic mountain peaks.
These days, visitors still come in droves for the spectacular scenery and outdoor activities year-round. In winter, skiers love the hotel’s location that’s just 10 minutes to Lake Louise Ski Resort and a short drive to the area’s other ski areas. Plus, the 554 guestrooms offer the perfect respite after a day on the slopes, and the Escape Spa is just the ticket to prep legs for another powder day.
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise’s Simple Beginnings
More than just a luxury resort, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise played its own role in the history of Canada’s mountain west. Conceptualized by the same visionary as its sister resort in Banff, the Lake Louise hotel started as a one-story longhouse designed for “outdoor adventures and alpinists.” The current building took shape over a few decades, two destructive fires and four architects.
In the 1900s, Lake Louise was becoming a hotbed for mountaineering among Canadians. Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise employed the first Swiss mountain guides who trained Canadian climbers and other visitors on the finer points of mountain safety. Unfortunately there were a few mishaps before the Swiss guides arrived, but the climbing culture really took root once they were there. You can still see the Swiss influence on cuisine (lots of fondue!) and architecture around Lake Louise.
The Chateau has hosted many royal guests over the years, including Prince Rainier of Monaco, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip, and more. When it comes to American royalty, Lake Louise joined the stars on the silver screen in the 1928 film Eternal Love.