7 Ways to Upgrade Your Canadian Rockies Vacation
Sometimes you’ve just got to treat yourself! For an experience that matches the grandeur of the Canadian Rockies, add these luxurious perks to your travel itinerary—each is a worthy splurge that will take your holiday to the next level.
Upgrade your swing
The Canadian Rockies provide a dramatic backdrop for golf, and no links boast better views than the Stanley Thompson-designed course at Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. The course was originally open in 1911, but expanded, redesigned and opened again in 1928. Built for a staggering (at the time) one million dollars, this par-71 masterpiece is home to a notoriously challenging hole that’s earned the moniker “the Devil’s Cauldron.”
Upgrade your pampering
Feeling the aches and pains after a full 18 holes? There’s no need to drive out to Banff’s legendary hot springs to tap the rejuvenating powers of the region’s mineral-rich waters. The Willow Stream Spa, located inside the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel offers a whole host of wondrous water therapies and chill-out options, including waterfalls, hot and cold cascades and mineral pools. The Willow Stream’s supremely decadent treatment menu helped secure its spot on Condé Nast Traveler’s ranking of the top five spas in Canada.
Upgrade your dinner
Near the base of the Banff Gondola on Sulphur Mountain lies the luxe Rimrock Resort Hotel, home to what’s arguably the very best restaurant in the region. At Eden, Executive Chef Randy Luft fuses fine French cuisine with the finest ingredients sourced from the Canadian Rockies. Winning top awards from Wine Spectator and five diamonds from AAA/CAA (the only restaurant in western Canada to have such a distinction), the mouthwatering tasting menu ranges from lobster terrine to goose, venison and pheasant. Be sure to book ahead—reservations are most definitely required!
Upgrade your spirits
Micro-distilleries are popping up across Canada, but Banff’s Park Distillery is a true standout in two significant ways. Not only is it the only distillery in the country to be located inside the borders of a National Park, it can also claim to serve up some of the freshest spirits in the world. Made from grains grown on family farms in the Alberta foothills and with water sourced from six Rocky Mountain glaciers, the small batch vodka, rye and gin are unlike anything you’ve ever tasted.
Upgrade your ride
Effectively an upgrade of everything from views to cuisine to hospitality, Rocky Mountaineer is simply the most spectacular means of making your way through the Canadian Rockies—unless, of course, you upgrade within the train itself. Splurging on GoldLeaf Service not only takes the scenery to the next level (with panoramic views courtesy of the bi-level, glass-dome coach), but also includes perks like complimentary drinks, cushy seating that puts your favourite living room recliner to shame, and attentive Hosts that cater to your every whim. Twice a day, you’ll descend a spiral staircase to the lower level dining room to enjoy a gourmet breakfast and lunch made from the finest ingredients in the Pacific Northwest.
Upgrade your glacier experience
It’s one thing to admire a glacier from afar, and another thing entirely to set foot on its frozen surface. Located between Banff and Jasper along the B.C. and Alberta border, the Columbia Icefield is an awe-inspiring sight that begs closer inspection. The easiest way to get up close and personal with this natural wonder? Try hopping on board an Ice Explorer—a lumbering vehicle that carries passengers down a 34-per cent grade to the constantly moving river of ice, where you can disembark to further explore on foot.
Upgrade your view
Few experiences on Earth manage to make you feel small next to nature quite like riding a ribbon of steel through the Canadian Rockies. That’s not to say your mountain adventure should come to a close upon reaching your destination of Banff on the Rocky Mountaineer’s “First Passage to the West” route, however. Instead, opt for the luxury train’s transfer from Banff to Calgary with a stop in Kananaskis, where you can take a Panoramic Helicopter Tour that will have you soaring 2,300 metres above sea level. It’s a thrilling bird’s-eye view that provides a fresh perspective on the mountains and waterfalls that have towered overhead throughout your journey through the Rockies.