Visiting Banff or Lake Louise? The Fairmont Banff Springs and Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, those two storybook hotels, may be out of your budget for lodging, but it’s still possible to play prince or princess for the day.
At the Banff Springs, spend a half day or longer in the Willow Stream Spa. Day access is a whopping $79 (for nonguests, reservations required), so the longer you stay, the better it seems (it’s open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.). Of course, one dip in the progressive pools or the central mineral pool (be sure to lay your head back in the water—music is piped in), and you’ll think it’s worth every penny. At least I did. Head outside to the whirlpool, and don’t be surprised if a deer strolls by. As another woman said: “It doesn’t get any better than this!” Well, actually, it does, but that requires spending beaucoup bucks for a massage (rates begin at $165 for 60 minutes, plus gratuity and GST) or other service. Instead, add a mini-splurge for breakfast or lunch, perhaps even light dinner, in the spa. In between taking the waters or trips to the steam room or sauna (with a window overlooking the mountains), simply relax in your robe and slippers, munch on complementary fruit and perhaps cookies or muffins, and sip tea for big Ahhhh! factor. Before leaving, shower using the spa’s fancy-schmancy shampoo, conditioner and cleansers, then slather liberally with lotion. Now melt.
At the Chateau Lake Louise, make a reservation for high tea, served daily in the lakefront lounge from noon to 4 p.m. Yes, it’s pricey at $38, but the experience is priceless. Begin with a glass of Nino Franco Prosecco Rustico sparkling wine (or Moet & Chandon, for an additional $10), followed by a fresh fruit cocktail with cointreau syrup, then choose a tea and sit back and nibble your way through a three-tiered silver tray of finger sandwiches (English cucumber and boursin cheese, egg salad, smoked salmon and asparagus with mascarpone spread, curried chickent salad); to-die-for scones with Devonshire cream and strawberry jam; and a sampling of pasties and sweets. It’s so elegant and so self-indulgent and so satisfying.