Cross Country:80km in National Park - best around Lake Louise
Hotel - Room Only
9 December 2017 (7 nights)
7 nights | Guide prices per person
Ski Solutions Expert & Skier
18 February 2014
One of the most iconic ski hotels in Canada - don't miss the outstanding breakfast!
The world famous Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is a distinctive and impressive landmark in Banff, Canada. It forms an amazing backdrop to the town in its elevated position just a mile from the centre.
Built in a Scottish baronial style with just a hint of French Chateau thrown in - it is more of a town than a hotel. With 770 bedrooms, 15 shops and 12 restaurants spanning global cuisine - one doesnt really need to leave the premises - except to go skiing.
Moderate rooms have 1 queen bed or 1 queen and double sofa. Fairmont rooms sleep up to 4 persons and have a king size bed (1-2 persons), a queen size bed and a single bed (3 persons); two queen beds or a queen/king with sofa bed (4 persons). Deluxe rooms sleep 1-4 have the same layout as Fairmont rooms but are larger and more comfortable. The spacious Junior suites have a defined bedroom with a king bed, and sitting area within the room with double sofa bed. All rooms are allocated with sufficient beds for the number of occupants and have bath, shower, wc, TV, phone, coffee maker, hair dryer, minibar. Larger suites available on request.
Fairmont Room - Features either a King bed and a Queen bed OR 2 twin beds and sleeps 2 people.
Deluxe Room - Room features either a King bed, a Queen bed, 2 twin beds, 2 Queen beds or one Queen bed and a twin bed and sleeps 2 people.
Fairmont View Room - Features either a King bed and a Queen bed OR 2 twin beds and sleeps 2 people.
Fairmont Gold Room - Features 1 King size bed and sleeps 2 people.
Jaw dropping National Park and great value for money.
Spectacularly set in Canada's original National Park, Banff and nearby Lake Louise are primarily summer resorts that luckily happen to have some excellent skiing on their doorsteps. This, coupled with short transfers and regular charter and scheduled flights into Calgary make skiing in the Canadian Rockies extremely attractive to the UK visitor.
The town of Banff is mostly spread along the central thoroughfare of Banff Avenue, with the majority of hotels, apartments, shops, bars and restaurants being on or just off the central stretch (although some hotels on Banff Avenue are a good walk to the centre of town). Lake Louise Village, about a 45 minute drive away, is less of a village, more an accumulation of accommodation with a few shops and a petrol station. Lake Louise itself, with the imposing Victoria glacier looming over the lake and famous Chateau Lake Louise, is a couple of miles further up the road.
Lodging in Banff has something for every budget, from the iconic Fairmont Banff Springs to a local youth hostel. Other accommodation options include the Rimrock, next to the Upper Hot Springs, and Banff Avenue hotels including the Banff Caribou Lodge, the Fox Suites and the good value Inns of Banff.
Accommodation options in Lake Louise are more limited, with the luxury end of the market being centred on the aforementioned Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and the Relais & Chateaux rated Post Hotel. The Deer Lodge provides a good alternative for those on more of a budget.
Snow conditions vary from area to area. Sunshine prides itself on not requiring artificial snow, with Mt Norquay having snowmaking on all green and blue slopes. Lake Louise has about 40% of its terrain covered by snowmaking facilities. All in all, lack of snow is rarely a problem in a normal season on a banff ski holiday.
Cross Country:80km in National Park - best around Lake Louise
The skiing is spread over three separate areas, labelled under the Ski Big 3 banner: Mt Norquay, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise, all covered by the aptly named Tri-Area lift pass.
Lake Louise, the largest of the three areas, offers a good selection of pleasant gladed tree runs on the Front Side and Larch area, with runs of all grades. This is especially useful for a mixed ability group looking to spend the day meeting up. From the top of the mountain, experts can reach Lake Louise's "Powder Bowls"; open, treeless, predominantly North facing and in parts, very steep. The Ptarmigan area is also reached from the top and offers more tree skiing for all abilities.
Situated on the Continental Divide, the watershed between the Pacific and the Atlantic, Sunshine Village (actually a hotel and day lodge at the top of a 20 minute gondola from the base) is the main ski area for Banff- based visitors. Due to its location, Sunshine boasts an average of around 360-400 inches of snow a year. The skiing is split across several separate but well connected areas: Goat's Eye Mountain is expert territory, with a good selection of single and double blacks, with a couple of blues for better intermediates. Lookout Mountain, on the Divide itself, offers good cruising runs and entry to Delirium Dive and Silver City, where guides are recommended and bleepers mandatory. Beginners and the less confident will find plenty of good cruising on Mt Standish and below the village around the Jackrabbit chair.
Mt Norquay, overlooking Banff, is a nice tree lined area ideal in bad weather or for a first day warm up. It also offers night skiing on Fridays.
Snowboarders are well catered for, with excellent freeriding terrain at Sunshine and the Powder Bowls at Lake Louise. Each mountain has its own board park, mostly with reduced access passes available for avid freestylers.
Different schools for each mountain, all with high standards.
With each mountain having a different, yet almost identical school, the best option for beginners looking for a week of lessons is the Club Ski package, available through Ski Big 3, offering a day on each mountain, twice a week (Sundays and Thursdays). For single days and private lessons, the individual schools are the best option.
Limited choice with very high standards.
Each mountain has a kindergarten and the ski schools will take child for all day lessons from the age of six.
6 day pass: -Under 13: $166 -13 to 17: $448 -18 to 64: $504 -Over 65: $448 Day pass is for Sunshine only
Eating out has a wide range for all tastes and budgets, from fine dining at the Banff Springs, to brilliant steaks at The Keg and the excellent value Old Spaghetti Factory. Other good options are Tony Roma's for ribs and The Bison for Canadian with a twist.
Nightlife in Banff is lively with a good selection of bars, almost all serving food. The Rose & Crown regularly has live music, the St James's Gate offers the best pint of Guinness west of Ireland and Wild Bill's often has country-and-western and line dancing - Alberta is cowboy country after all! Other good options include Melissa's and The Elk and Oarsman.
There is plenty to occupy the non-skier in both Banff and Lake Louise, including ice skating, ice canyon and nature walks, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, dog sledding and the world famous Hot Springs. Several of the big hotels have spa facilities, all of which are available for non-residents at a fee. Other activities include city trips and ice hockey evenings. For those with a car, the spectacular Columbia Icefields are an hour or so away from Lake Louise.