No Need to “Rough it” in the Rockies

Finding Luxury in the Canadian Rockies Pin
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The Canadian Rocky Mountains, particularly Banff, 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 breathtaking natural setting. 


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.

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

[Photo Credit: Chris Rees via Unsplash]

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

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]

Banff Springs Hotel

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
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!

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]

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

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]

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

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!

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

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!

Unexpected. Unprecedented. Unbelievable.

2020 has definitely been the year of the “un” everything. We’ve completely un-done our normal routines, our workplaces, our plans, our celebrations, and our vacations.

Like so many of you, I find myself more than halfway through the year without having taken any vacation time, or having gone anywhere much further than my own backyard.

Ann with a class of wine on a white deck chair on the lawn in Block Island Rhode Island

I quite literally have spent ONE night away from home in a hotel…. and that was on Block Island, a quick ferry ride from where I live.

[photo credit: Annie’s Escapes]

I thought I had come up with a COVID-safe and socially-distant travel option for next month.  My daughter and I planned a one-week road trip through Utah, with stops at Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce and Zion national parks. 

Lots of time outdoors, hiking and enjoying the scenery, and no worries about international travel restrictions and closed borders.

[photo credit: Annie’s Escapes]

But now, because of Rhode Island’s rules about self-quarantine when you return from “hot spots” like the south and west, even that trip has been canceled like so many others.

Where that leaves me is scrambling to come up with a New England road trip that complies with all local travel restrictions but still gives us something to look forward to before my daughter starts law school in September. 

Seeing the Vermont Bridges [photo credit: Annie’s Escapes]

Maine is proving problematic because we can’t be guaranteed to get a negative COVID test within 72 hours of the trip, but New Hampshire looks good. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

And what that means for YOU is that even though I typically don’t handle domestic travel, this is a very “un”usual year 😊  

sunset on the beach with the hotel blacony and flag pole

I am now very well-versed in the regulations that currently apply to domestic travel.

[photo credit: Annie’s Escapes]

I can help you figure out which states will allow you to visit (and what your home state will require of you when you return) Plus, I’ve got some great new suppliers that offer very cool experiences and accommodations throughout the United States. 

  • What would you say to a dude ranch in Colorado? 
  • “Glamping” in the Grand Canyon? 
two luxury tents silouhetted against a night sky full of stars in Moab Utah
Glamping with Undercanvas [photo credit: Adam Skalecki via Unsplash]
  • A lakefront cabin in Maine? 
  • A luxury villa in Napa?
swimming pool with guest house and overlooking a valley in California
Stay in a Luxury Californian Villa [Photo Credit: Jesse Gardner via Unsplash]
  • Traveling cross-country in a private sleeper car on a train?
  • Cruising the Mississippi on a paddlewheel steamboat?
a steamboat sailing down the mississippi at sunset
Sailing down the Mississippi [Photo Credit: Stephen Walker via Unsplash]

If you’ve got vacation time to burn, or just need to have an “escape” to look forward to, I would welcome the chance to get creative and help you come up with an exciting domestic destination for this year. Give me a call or shoot me an email.

We can get back to exploring the wider world next year!

Six Luxury Resorts Worthy of a Post-Pandemic Splurge

When you’ve gone without something for a while, it becomes even more special and precious. If I give up dessert for Lent, that first allowable “splurge” on Easter Sunday takes on great significance. I’m not going to just have a cookie or a dish of frozen yogurt – I want gelato, crème brulee, or a decadent slice of cheesecake!

6 luxury resorts worthy of a post-pandemic splurge pin
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We’ve been stuck at home and deprived of the ability to travel for several months now, and I am dreaming of how to break that particular “fast”. For my first post-COVID trip, I’m not going to be staying at a Motel 6 or any old Hampton Inn. I want someplace special, and memorable, with at least a touch of luxury. But I also want to be safe and responsible, so I’m looking for fresh air, lots of outdoor space, and no crowds.

If you want some inspiration for outdoorsy US resorts that are worthy of a post-pandemic splurge, here are a handful on my list from three distinct parts of the country:

The Southeast – For Southern Charm

Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Resort southern mansion front lawn with large southern trees, south carolina
[ Photo Credit: Sanctuary at Kiawah Island, South Carolina]

Sanctuary at Kiawah Island– If the ocean is calling you right now, consider The Sanctuary at Kiawah. This grand sea-side hotel is both elegant and welcoming.

main lobby of the Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Resort with a southern decor

You’ll feel like you’re arriving at a friend’s Southern mansion.

[Photo Credit: Sanctuary at Kiawah Island]

There are unobstructed ocean views (even from the ground floor) and a balcony or terrace in every guestroom, so you can enjoy the tranquility and fresh sea air. Just 21 miles from downtown Charleston, and convenient to all the shopping/dining/sightseeing that the “Holy City” provides, this is the pampering escape you need after these past few months. The overall decor is calm and serene, and the rooms have a breezy traditional feel with large tubs, plantation shutters, and neutral color palettes.

areal view of the Sancutary at Kiawah Island Resort in South Carolina
[Photo Credit: Sanctuary at Kiawah Island]

With more than a dozen eateries, separate adult and family pools, a beach, and a golf course, this relaxing resort lives up to its Sanctuary name. But it’s the little touches like complimentary shoe shines, that really set this Southern resort apart. As an example of their commitment to guest wellness, they are partnering with a team of doctors from MUSC to develop health and safety plans and protocols that go above and beyond the CDC COVID-19 recommendations. Staying here is sure to leave you feeling relaxed and well cared for.

Montage Palmetto Bluff– Spend a relaxing afternoon on the veranda with a cool glass of sweet tea at this river-side resort. Located in the South Carolinian low-country, the resort features vaulted ceilings, wide porches, and classic Southern charm. They offer a huge variety of accommodations, from guestrooms to spacious stand-alone cottages. Add in their eight different dining locations, and they have what you need for every type of trip.

sunset on the river in south carolina

This is a quiet “hide-away” right on the river where you can enjoy the slow pace of southern life.

[Photo Credit: Everett Petronio]

While this sprawling 20,000-acre resort prides itself on an unhurried atmosphere, there’s still plenty to do. Included in the resort’s grounds are a nature reserve, two villages, a golf course, and 32 miles of riverfront. They provide guided activities and tours, or you can explore on your own.

river edge with high grasses and small white heron at montage palmetto resort south carolina

Take tennis and fly-fishing lessons, spend an afternoon at the shooting club, learn about their conservancy program, or go on a dolphin cruise to spot local wildlife. You can find yourself hiking, biking, paddle-boarding, or kayaking.

[Photo Credit: Everett Petronio]

For something a little quieter, chill out by the pool, hop onboard one of their yachts for morning mimosas on the water, or make your own s’mores around the fire pit at night. There’s plenty to do at this huge resort, making it a great all-around getaway.

The Pacific Northwest – For Tranquil Contemplation

blades of tall grass near water columbia gorge oregon
[Photo Credit: Lauren Neiheisel]

Salish Lodge and Spa – A quintessential Pacific Northwest experience, the Salish Lodge and Spa will make you feel like you’re on your own personal mountain retreat. Just 30 minutes east of Seattle, it overlooks the impressive 268 ft Snoqualmie Falls and river gorge, and is surrounded by a lush northwest forest. This will truly feel like an escape from the everyday.

couple's massage at the Salish Lodge & Spa in Washington

With gas fireplaces and spa-like showers in every room the real focus here is serenity.

[Photo Credit: Salish Lodge & Spa]

Perfect for a relaxing yet outdoorsy getaway, the Lodge features northwest-inspired spa treatments, easy hiking trails, trout fishing and two restaurants with local home-grown food.

dining room overlooking the pacific northwest river gorge and snoqualmie waterfalls at the Salish Lodge & Spa in Washington
[Photo Credit: Salish Lodge & Spa]

Founded in 1916 and owned by the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe, it is truly unique. The Lodge was the setting of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks mystery series, and it has an onsite apiary which they use to make a huge variety of fresh honey products — ales, sweets, and main dishes.

living room area of the patio suite at the Salish Lodge & Spa in Washington State

Be sure to get a River View room so you can relax on your balcony to the sound of the rushing water.

[Photo Credit: Salish Lodge & Spa]

Stephanie Inn – For a romantic adventure on the Pacific Ocean, look no further than the Stephanie Inn. This adults-only ocean-front hotel offers the best in boutique luxury. Combining comfort and elegance with oceanfront and mountain views, this intimate retreat has a focus on all things culinary.

couple relaxing on their beachfront terrace at the Stephanie Inn, Oregon

Being only 28 steps to the beach, providing beach cruiser bicycles, and luxurious Jacuzzi “pure air” baths in every room is just the beginning.

[Photo Credit: The Stephanie Inn]

The Inn also offers several specialized excursions and experiences (“Stephanie Inn Sojourns”) with their executive chef.

You can take cooking classes, travel the Craft Ale Trail, go salmon and crab fishing in the Pacific, learn to blend your own wine and head to the local farmer’s market. All under the guidance of executive chef Aaron Bedard.

[Photo Credit: The Stephanie Inn]

The beachfront setting, pampering service, and the “foodie” experiences certainly set Stephanie Inn apart from the competition.

[Photo Credit: The Stephanie Inn]

This is a resort that really understands their clientele. Guests can enjoy a bonfire or picnic lunch on the beach, onsite massages, and free transportation into Cannon Beach (in a cool Tesla sedan) to explore local galleries, secret gardens and boutique shopping.

The Rocky Mountains- For Something Rugged

panoramic shot of Colorado meadow and moutains at C Lazy U Ranch
[ Photo Credit: C Lazy U Ranch]

C Lazy U RanchIf you’re itching to be active, experience a real dude ranch, or you’re traveling with children then the C Lazy U Ranch is the place. This luxury dude ranch in the heart of the Rocky Mountains is the Wild West family adventure you’ll be talking about for years to come.

three people horseback riding on a trail through a beautiful forest and next to a lack at the C Lazy U Ranch in Colorado
[Photo Credit: C Lazy U Ranch]

With a herd of over 200 horses, they’ll take you on daily trail rides among the wildflowers, lessons in the horse riding arenas, and cattle pushing clinics in the meadows. They also offer a ropes course, archery, zipline, hiking, tennis, and two miles of private riverfront for fly fishing.

two boys high five halfway up a rock climbing wall at the ropes course on the C Lazy U Ranch, Colorado

Balancing family time and scheduled adventure time, this 101 year-old ranch has an excellent kids & teens program.

[Photo Credit: C Lazy U Ranch]

Plus there’s still plenty of time to relax on the ranch.

Two large copper tubs await in the spa tent at the C Lazy U Ranch in Colorado

Enjoy their spa with unique copper soaking tubs and glass-floor tents, letting you watch the river drift by while enjoying your massage.

[Photo Credit: C Lazy U Ranch]

Chill by the pool, pond, or river and spend your evenings sharing stories by the open fire. This Ranch has it all and more.

Dunton Hot SpringsNestled in the San Juan Mountains, in the southwest corner of Colorado, sits a restored mining ghost town. Taking rustic luxury to a whole new level, this hot-springs centered resort perfectly combines nature, whimsy, and elegance. Thirteen hand-hewn log cabins circle the Saloon and Dance Hall, just steps from the bathhouse. Don’t let the rustic exterior fool you — each of these cabins features heated floors, large baths, glass showers, wifi, and all the other modern luxuries you could desire. One cabin even features its own hot springs tap!

San Juan Colorado Rockies snow-caped in the distance with a wooden fence and overgrown meadow in front

This perfectly-restored ghost town gives you views of mountains and meadows.

[Photo Credit: James Obernesser via Unsplash]

Enjoy hiking, biking, and fly fishing on your own. Or take along a guide for rock climbing, river rafting, horseback riding, and climbing to the top of the San Juan peaks. After all these outdoor activities, you’ll love coming back to restore and refresh in the hot springs before enjoying farm-fresh food and world-class wines in the saloon.

men's legs floating in a natural hot-spring surrounded by rocks and  a fir forest

The resort offers five ways to enjoy its ancient rejuvenating hot springs, which range from 85F to 106F.

[Photo Credit: Alexander Mcferon via Unsplash]

Staying at the Dunton Hot Springs is not only a unique experience but a perfect way to commune with nature and focus on your wellness.

Whether you’re feeling like what you need most is calming tranquility or an action-packed adventure, your first post-COVID trip should be someplace special, memorable, and a little bit luxurious. With lots of fresh crisp air and remote settings, we hope these six resorts have inspired you to dream big. Let us know when and where you’d like to enjoy your first post-pandemic ‘escape’!

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)