No Need to “Rough it” in the Rockies

Finding Luxury in the Canadian Rockies pin
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The Canadian Rocky Mountains should be on any travel bucket list. Blue glacial lakes, snow-capped mountains, and an abundance of wildlife stretch across five national parks. The Rockies truly are that beautiful, and you’ll find Instagram-worthy vistas around every corner!

While visiting the area you can experience a whole range of activities, during all four seasons, and for all ages and skill levels. But the best part of visiting the Rockies is getting to enjoy true luxury and relaxation in such a breath-taking natural setting. 

Banff

One of the most popular parks, Banff is about a two-hour drive from Calgary and makes an excellent home-base for a week in the Rockies.

Enjoy the view of huge snow-capped mountains and lush evergreen forest when you hikethe Canadian Rockies

Banff offers some of the best hiking trails (leading to awe-inspiring views), beautiful forests, and waterfalls.

[Photo Credit: Chris Rees via Unsplash]

You can paddle on the Bow River or Lake Minnewanka in your kayak, canoe, or stand-up-paddle board. Go stargazing, take a boat cruise, or a gondola ride up to a spectacular panoramic observation deck, cafe, and restaurant.

after climbing up the rock face you can sit back an enjoy the stunning view of the Canadian Rockies

Whether you enjoy an easy stroll, a round of golf with a mountainous backdrop or scaling the side of a cliff, Banff has adventures for all levels.

[Photo Credit: Fairmont Hotels]

And when you return from your outdoor adventures each evening? Kick off your boots, enjoy a hot soak and a gourmet meal in the “Castle of the Rockies”: The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.  Built in 1888 and modeled after a Scottish Castle, the Banff Springs Hotel is a destination in itself that combines luxury and history!

the Banff Springs Hotel of the Canadian Rockies in summer
[Photo Credit: Fairmont Hotels]
a bed with a view at the Banff Springs Hotel in the Canadian Rockies

Under the eaves of this impressive building, you’ll have picture-perfect views when you wake up in your luxurious bed.  Head out for an easy morning hike to the roaring waterfalls. Return to Banff for your choice from dozens of restaurants, each with delicious, locally inspired menus.

[Photo Credit: Fairmont Hotels]

Take the rest of the day to relax in their spa, or head to the concierge to look through their 26-page activities book! End your day chilling out on their front terrace, with the light cutting across the crevices of the huge mountains and dancing across the tops of the trees as you breathe the wonderfully fresh, crisp mountain air. 

Lake Louise

an areal view of Chateau Lake Louise Hotel and it's stunningly blue lake in the Canadian Rockies
[Photo Credit: Wenhao Ji via Unsplash]

If a lake view is more your idea of bliss, we recommend heading a bit further north to Lake Louise. And what better way to enjoy the lake than with a view from your balcony? The luxurious Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is a grand hotel situated right on the lake. It has been a luxury vacation destination since its opening in the 1890’s. Paddle on the stunning blue waters surrounded by mountain peaks or go ice skating in the winter!

a horse-drawn sliegh ride set in the white fluffy snow, towering mountains and evergreen forest of the Canadian Rockies

In winter, you can also enjoy dog sled tours, sleigh rides, and skiing in the quintessential winter wonderland. Soft fluffy snow, evergreen trees, and hot chocolate by the fire waiting for you when you return.

[Photo Credit: Fairmont Hotels]

horseback riding along the lake with a beautiful mountainous backdrop in the Canadian Rockies

Summer and Fall at Lake Louise are equally enticing. You can enjoy a variety of hiking and biking trails, horseback riding alongside the lake, and white water rafting.

[Photo Credit: Fairmont Hotels]

Wherever you look, amazing views and pampering service await your stay at Lake Louise. Staying here at the Fairmont saves you the hassle of trying to find lake-side parking, or even worse, having to park a few miles away!

a dining room table with a view of the stunning blue waters and huge snow-capped mountains at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies

Their many restaurants offer table-side views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. The interior is elegant and polished, calm and inviting. Picnic on the dock, or enjoy a glass of wine on the expansive verandas that the Fairmont offers.

This is taking your classic lake vacation to the next level of scenery and luxury.

[Photo Credit: Fairmont Hotels]

Getting There

While flying into Victoria or Calgary and renting a car to drive yourself up to the Rockies is always an option, one of the best ways to get to the Canadian Rockies is to take the train! Any of the two or three-day routes from Victoria into the mountains are the perfect way to fully enjoy the views and learn about the local wildlife without having to worry about car rentals or traffic.

the Rocky Mountaineer train winding its way next to a blue lake in the Canadian Rockies
[Photo Credit: Rocky Mountaineer]

The Rocky Mountaineer offers 360-degree views on your journey through lush forests, over deep river gorges, through mountain tunnels, and alongside blue lakes. You can travel from Victoria to Banff, Lake Louise or Jasper (with a stop or two along the way), then stay a few days in the destination before flying home. Or, consider making it a round-trip train extravaganza!

the interior of the Rocky Mountaineer train with domed glass giving passengers a 360 degree view of the Canadian Rockies

Any seat on the Rocky Mountaineer has stunning views, overhead windows, and access to an outdoor viewing platform. Splurging a little extra for their Goldleaf seats will give you complete 360-degree rounded domes so you don’t miss a thing. Both levels (silver and gold) have hosts to answers questions, tell you stories about the landscape, and point out the wildlife. 

[Photo Credit: Rocky Mountaineer]

The Rocky Mountaineer doesn’t travel at night so you won’t miss a single moment of the beautiful scenery. Instead, included in your trip, are stays in lovely hotels along the way. Taking the train ensures luxury throughout the journey — not just at the final destination. 


You shouldn’t have to choose between incredible outdoorsy experiences and luxurious relaxation. The Rocky Mountains offer the best of all worlds, bringing luxury into your journey, your stay, and your surroundings. While we can’t yet travel to Canada from the US (due to current COVID restrictions) advance planning for a bucket list trip like this is always recommended!

Let us know if you were inspired by this post when you plan with us and we can offer special perks at both of the Fairmont properties — such as extended check in/out hours, a room upgrade if available; $100 CAD food and beverage credit (Banff) OR a professional portrait taken during stay with souvenir photo frame (Lake Louise)! We’re excited to help plan your ‘escape’ to the Canadian Rockies!

A Year in Review

This has been a jam-packed travel year for me, but you won’t hear any complaints. The more, the merrier, as far as I’m concerned, because I collect new countries/hotels/experiences like a madwoman! By rough count, 2017’s travel adventures included:  five new countries; visits to and/or tours of more than twenty all-inclusive resorts; three trips to Mexico; my first river cruise; three fabulous travel conferences (two of which I spoke at); and a handful of new luxury hotels in fun US destinations.

If that sounds overwhelming, it kind of is. But out of the whirlwind that was this past year, a few highlights stand out:

Favorite hotel:   The Jefferson, Richmond VA

elegant hotel lobby in VA

I’ve probably been to Richmond a dozen times at this point, as my son is a student at the University of Richmond, but we typically stay at branded chain hotels near campus. This October we treated ourselves to a long weekend at The Jefferson, a five-star hotel in a grand, old historic building in the center of the city. Everything about this property was on point — the service, the rooms, the food, the location, the atmosphere – I simply could not find a single thing that I would change or improve. Very rare indeed!

Favorite all-inclusive resortLe Blanc, Cancun

a beautiful blue infinity pool overlooking the ocean in Cancun

Three visits to Mexico in one year (and more than a dozen properties visited) can leave a bit of a blur in my mind, but Le Blanc stands out clearly. It has everything that I look for in a resort:  a fabulous beach, a decadent spa, gourmet food, impeccable service, spacious rooms, serene décor, and no children, LOL.  (don’t get me wrong…I love children, I have children, but when I want some “me” time at a tropical resort, I don’t want to be surrounded by children.) 

Most intriguing city:  Salzburg, Austria

a small side street in Austria with fairylights hanging down

By intriguing, I mean that I’m longing to return.  We had just the briefest taste of Salzburg on my November river cruise, and it left me hungry for more. More time to wander the pedestrian-friendly streets, nibble on pastries in a café, hike my way up to the fortress, and soak up the Medieval and Baroque architecture. Plus, I didn’t get to see a single hotel! Reason enough to go back.

Most beautiful scenery:  Azores, Portugal

lush greenery surround a lake and small walking path in Azores

For me, the Azores is the very definition of a love/hate relationship. I absolutely LOVED the islands, with their jaw-dropping scenery, natural wonders, fresh seafood, delicious wine, and friendly people.  But the process of getting there (and back) was unbearable. What should be so simple – a five-hour hop from Providence to Sao Miguel — turned into a days-long journey of cancelled flights, cattle-car conditions, last-minute changes, and drives back and forth to Boston. If I could click my heels and transport myself back there I would. But until then, I’m not in a hurry to try SATA Airlines again.

Biggest surprise:  Munich, Germany

two glasses of beer in Munich

Sometimes, the very best thing you can do is to visit a place without any plans, expectations, or pre-conceived notions.  This is exactly what happened with Munich! We had just one night there (maybe 24 hours in total) in November, and all I had done in advance was to book a room at the Sofitel Munich Bayerpost (which we loved!)  We strolled through the city center, watched the vendors set up their Christmas market stalls, drank some delicious beer, ate some delicious German food, wandered into a fascinating museum, took lots of photos, and absolutely had a ball. I would go back again in a heartbeat!

Newfound love: River cruising

the deck of a river cruise through europe

Do you ever worry that an experience (or a place, or a restaurant, etc.) simply CAN’T possibly live up to the hype and the expectation? I do! And I was a little bit afraid that I was dooming myself to be let down with my big 50th birthday river cruise, simply because I was looking forward to it so much. Silly me. If anything, it was even better than I hoped! The food was amazing, the service blew my mind, the ports were fascinating, and the whole experience could not have been more fun. It’s a great way to see Europe, without any stress, and I cannot wait to do it again!

You provided excellent guidance for us. I appreciated that you really had us think about what was most important to us when we were selecting the right cruise – and not to totally focus on what other people had to say. THANK YOU for helping to make this a memorable trip for our family! It really was a trip of a lifetime!

Clare and Mark (family cruise to Alaska)

The level of service we experienced was out of this world (and we did NOT make it easy on Ann). We weren’t quite sure where we wanted to go, when we would be able to go, or what “vibe” we were going for. After asking us some key questions (what we liked, didn’t like, why, etc.) Ann helped us narrow down our trip details and planned the honeymoon of our dreams. She helped book some of our excursions, answered some emergency questions while abroad and was always available/willing to help. I think it’s safe to say we won’t be using anyone else for future travel planning – Ann is a rockstar!

Carli (Italy and Spain)