Rocking Canada’s Castle in the Rockies

Fairmont Banff Spring's Willow Stream Spa lives up to our fairytale expectations.

For over a century, the Fairmont Banff Springs has earned an international reputation as a luxury resort with legendary hospitality. Situated in the heart of Banff National Park and minded by majestic Mount Rundle, Canada’s “Castle in the Rockies” oozes old-world elegance — its steeply pitched copper roofs, picturesque dormers, round arches, and dark Rundlestone cladding foreshadow the enchanting experience inside.

The courteous and attentive welcome staff whisk you through the arrival process, giving you ample time to admire the main entry lobby’s vaulted ceilings, brickwork and breath-taking grand staircase. The lavish interior design leaves literally no stone unturned. The lines of shops, restaurants, halls and conference rooms are tucked discreetly in tunnels and walkways that urge exploration.

Feeling like a princess in a fairytale setting, I sallied forth to the hotel’s Willow Stream Spa where I’d booked an afternoon of long-awaited indulgence. For years, this particular spa called to me and I couldn’t wait to visit the area as part of a 10k mile road trip zigzagging across North America. My hopes and expectations were quickly rewarded. The spa concierge was warm, friendly and knowledgeable. She took me on a short tour of the facilities and led me to the stylish women’s locker rooms, replete with all of the amenities and comforts one would expect of a luxury spa experience.

I quickly settled in and made the rounds in the ladies’ sauna, steam room, and indoor Jacuzzi, before moving on to the variously pulsating waterfalls and the deeply relaxing mineral pool at the heart of the spa.

When it was time for my massage, I entered a cozy, blanketed resting lounge with peaceful views of the mountains where my therapist, a petite but lithe looking young woman, greeted me and guided me to our treatment room. She asked if I had any particular areas of concern, and having spent the past two weeks driving four thousand miles, my neck was unusually sore. She quickly bore down on the area, putting every last ounce of her small frame into a herculean healing massage. I walked out of there feeling like a tire had been removed from my shoulders. I still feel shocked by the immediate affects the massage had on my body and soul, releasing a physical tension I was barely aware I was carrying.

Afterwards I made my way to a lounge chair near the mineral pool and napped for a bit before ending the afternoon in the outdoor whirlpool, drinking in the natural steeples before me and connecting to the perpetual spirit of the mountains. Whatever called me to this place, I called back in gratitude for bringing me somewhere so peaceful.

The Fairmont Banff Springs is a year round luxury resort offering something to engage everyone’s outdoor adventurer.

For ski buffs, there is unparalleled Rocky Mountain skiing on its infamous champagne powder at three nearby Banff ski resorts; Sunshine Village, Lake Louise Mountain Resort, Ski Banff at Norquay.

For those who like to hike, the nearby Tunnel Mountain Trail with its moderately steep, but well-graded switchbacks is a good hearty walk offering panoramic outlooks of the Bow and Spray River valleys and surrounding peaks.

For golfers, the Banff Springs Golf Club is a “must play” though it is said that even the most determined golfer will have a hard time concentrating on his or her game given the gorgeous mountain scenery.

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