Fairmont Banff Springs is known as the Castle of the Rockies, shining like a beacon of towering wealth and prestige, begging to be toured. Wandering the halls, shops, restaurants and galleries is almost an adventure itself. Originally built by railroad barons, it’s fame catapulted when Marilyn Monroe stayed while filming “River of No Return” along with her new boyfriend Joe DiMaggio. Occupancy has never faltered since.
Positioned high above the convergence point of Bow and Spray rivers, the roar of Bow falls can be heard from most points on the property. “Since we can’t export the scenery, we will have to import the tourists,” said founder William Cornelius Van Horn. Indeed. The golf is as spectacular as the hotel. Famed architect Stanley Thompson built two course that match the natural beauty with challenge. His philosophy of framing each hole with a view of the mountains behind the green is evident on all 27 holes at FBS. The Stanley Thompson 18 starts along the raging glacial river with rafters gleefully rushing by. Wind whistles through the pines as shadows dance in the bright light of this forested parkland mountain course. A herd of elk roamed a fairway with a lone one near a green and a pair of teens on a ladies’ tee box. They all moved on without incident. Canadian geese are still prevalent in Alberta though we thought they had all immigrated to the US.
The Tunnel 9 course is celebrating 30 years. The nine holes are full size with full views of mountains with elk and coyotes.
The food is no less than you would expect from a luxury resort. Healthy veggies are creatively amped with flavor like the Brussel sprouts at Trundle and the cauliflower at Stanley’s Smokehouse. The Smokehouse is within the clubhouse, a 180- degree viewing restaurant and bar for watching players and landscape.
On Women’s Golf Day, pro Steve Young boasted of their regular program while the women celebrated their day together in clinics, golfing Tunnel 9 and toasting with prizes in the Smokehouse.
The views traveling from the Kootenay National Park are a phenomenal contrast of glacier mountains, streams and Caribbean colored waters. The anticipation of encountering moose, elk and bear are a part of the journey. Banff Springs is a quintessential winter vacation destination as well as an exhilarating summer spot in the mountains. While Banff Springs has a vibrant downtown with a lively art and cultural scene, shops and restaurants, it is hard to leave the Fairmont Banff Springs, reliving the history of this iconic hotel and creating some of your own.