HOME > Chowhound > Prairie Provinces >
What's your latest food project?
TELL US

Winter Holiday at Banff Springs!

o
OliverB Nov 3, 2013 01:37 PM

I'm a Canadian-expat from Montreal now living in San Francisco with my wife, and I am really, really, really looking forward to experiencing a snowy white Christmas with my SoCal sweetie in the Canadian rockies!!! I haven't been out of the States in over a year and while we spend a fair amount of time in the foothills of the Sierras and up in Yosemite on weekends... nothing compares to the winter white blanketed Rockies over the holidays!!

I haven't been to Banff in almost a decade and would love to get some restaurant and food recommendations. We'll be at the Fairmont for 4 nights (Dec. 19 - 24) and we have no prerequisities, other then delicious meals! Any type of cuisine from casual and comfort to fine dining and white tablecloth formal works; any price level is fine. Regional cuisines with locally sourced ingredients (I suppose that would be carnivorous ingredients at this time of year!) would be wonderful. We just want to eat the best food possible on our trip!

Thanks for any and all suggestions you can offer... see you soon Canada, my home and native land!!! : )

  1. o
    OliverB Nov 3, 2013 01:54 PM

    Let's get a bit more specific...

    I would like recommendations for 4 dinners. I don't have any expectations whatsoever. Interesting and/or unique regional menus would be nice. We'll follow your direction towards the most proficient kitchen however. Chef driven restaurants for our evening meals please. Ambiance is important as well. I probably don't need to say it, but nothing with TVs playing sports broadcasts or anything like that... cozy lodge-like dining rooms would be best and if there are any old buildings with historic architecture/interest then that's a plus.

    We'll also need 4 lunch recommendations as well. Again, no requisties here... from bistros to burger stands, gastropubs to tasting menus... we'll go wherever the best meal is afforded!

    Breakfasts are not too important for us unless there are any local spots that should absolutely not be missed, either because of exceptional food, interesting menu or the setting and ambiance. We're otherwise happy to fend for ourself in the AMs.

    5 Replies
    1. re: OliverB
      o
      OliverB Nov 3, 2013 09:39 PM

      And how does Eden at the Rimrock Resort Hotel fare?

      To be honest, I haven't been all that impressed by the photos I've seen on Tripadvisor of restaurants like The Bison, Bear Street, etc. They look like your (possibly above) average mountain resort family style restaurants where the focus is on large platings of meat. Eden looks interesting though, and I wonder if any Chowhounders can offer feedback? What's the average dinner/drink tab for two and is it strictly degustation service or can you order table d'hote as well?

      1. re: OliverB
        Office Broccoli Nov 5, 2013 02:36 PM

        It's been years since I've been to Eden, but it was a wonderful experience. Fine dining, complete with sommelier and great service. Don't confuse it with Primrose, their other restaurant.

        For casual and rustic, I like the Sleeping Buffalo Restaurant and Lounge. It has a lodge style atmosphere complete with fireplaces. The cuisine is regional; they raise game on the CRMR ranch. Good for dinner. Have a look on urbanspoon for reviews and photos.

        Have you considered a drive down the road to Canmore? They have some nice places to eat too.

        1. re: Office Broccoli
          o
          OliverB Nov 5, 2013 02:59 PM

          Thanks, what would you recommend in Canmore?

          I'd be fine with driving a bit if the food merits it.

          1. re: OliverB
            Office Broccoli Nov 6, 2013 06:42 AM

            Trough Dining Co. would be good for dinner. For lunch, a stop at La Belle Patate perhaps. The owners are from Quebec and I enjoy their poutine. I also like Valbella for their locally made meats and meals. More for lunch or takeout.

          2. re: Office Broccoli
            r
            rancher rick Nov 5, 2013 09:07 PM

            I stand "corrected".....it was the Primrose where we had dinner at The Rimrock with the "average" dinner & confusion with the bill. Apologies!

      2. t
        tibbles Nov 3, 2013 07:02 PM

        Oh memories of Christmas at the Banff Springs...the great thing about it is, you don't have to leave the hotel if you don't want to. We had great sushi on Christmas Eve, and a wonderful dinner at the Waldhaus (which I thought would be a cliche of raclette etc., but i ate a delicious venison pie), and quick and tasty lunches at the Castle Pantry. Also there will be lots of buffets, we had one at the Bow Valley Grill (good), and one upstairs in the ballroom (better). Try the Banffshire club, if your budget allows (mine did not).

        3 Replies
        1. re: tibbles
          o
          OliverB Nov 3, 2013 09:03 PM

          Thanks Tibbles; room service is definitely on the itinerary!!

          I'm glad you mentioned Waldhaus because I love the old Swiss mountain lodge look and feel, but wasn't sure about the food. Glad to know they do rustic cooking well! I also really love the historic great lodge charm of the hotel wine bar (I think it's called Grapes) with it's rich wood panelling and magnificent views over the Canadian rockies. According to the website, it was originally established in 1926 as a writing room, and it looks frozen in time. We're planning to have at least one late afternoon lunch there; probably upon arriving on our first day. It's tough to go wrong with simple charcuterie plates and game meats in a place like that, I'm sure. Thanks for the tip on The Banffshire Club too! Hotel restaurants are usually something I avoid while travelling (we make exception for places with historic interest and vintage ambiance) but it sounds like Fairmont's doing things right in Banff!

          I'll be counting down the days until Christmas! : )

          1. re: tibbles
            o
            OliverB Nov 3, 2013 09:11 PM

            Also, in terms of local spots... everyone seems to mention The Bison, The Maple Leaf and Bear Street Tavern. Are these considered a "best of Banff" roundup? Would they hold their own in a city like San Francisco or New York... or are they rated highly more in the context of the surrounding area? Is there a top pick of the bunch? And what about the touristy fondue place (Grizzly something-or-other) - best to avoid or is the fondue any good? I'd sooner go to Waldhouse for that type of meal regardless of which ranks higher because I love the setting, but I'm just curious!

            EDIT: Just checked and The Grizzly House has been around since '67 and it looks like a lot of fun! Not expecting a fantastic meal there, but it's certainly got atmosphere to spare!

            1. re: OliverB
              s
              Shazam Nov 4, 2013 12:52 PM

              Actually the food is quite good at Grizzly House. The place is rather old though and everything is covered in a fine mist of grease.

          2. r
            rancher rick Nov 3, 2013 10:31 PM

            My wife & I spend a fair bit of time in Banff, specifically, Fairmont Banff Springs. It`s such a beautiful hotel & absolutely one of our favorite places.
            In terms of dining spots, we have dined at all the in house venues at the Fairmont excluding the Banffshire(declined to pay those prices tho` its been recommended by friends). The Bow Valley Grille was quite average, The Waldenhaus was good for a cold pint & some "pub grub" on a warm summer afternoon but nothing exceptional there. Can`t remember the name of the Italian restaurant there, very nice environment, impeccable service every time we`ve eaten there but the food? On the average considering the prices. If you`ve eaten high quality Italian cuisine anywhere, you may want to give this a "miss"
            Grapes is a warm, intimate space that we always visit over a fondue & bottle of wine. Again, stellar service but the food is kind of average.
            On a recent stay we elected to dine at Bison.......somewhat on the casual side(we prefer pristine white tablecloths!) but the food was very, very good. In fact, it was by far the best dinner we`ve ever had in Banff. I`d highly recommend Bison based on our experience.
            Places to avoid: Beaujolais.......arguably, the worst dinner we`ve ever had anywhere at a restaurant that purports to be "fine dining". Eden at the Rimrock was OK. We spent several days there(Fairmont was completely booked!), nice hotel. The dinner we had was on the average side & the server miscalculated our bill. About 11:30pm the front desk called & requested that we come down to FD to resolve the error our server had made. My response was "How about tomorrow as we are booked in for 3 more days!!" However, I digress!
            For a good breakfast I`d recommend Maple Leaf Grill downtown, the breakfasts are good tho` service can be spotty at times.
            My wife is an absolutely wonderful cook & a "foodie" so standards are fairly high.
            If I sound a little on the negative side about Fairmont Banff Springs it`s because we feel the quality of the food should be a lot higher. We`ve stayed at Fairmont Palliser in Calgary & Fairmont Whistler, both places have much better food esp. Whistler.
            Enjoy your stay in Banff, what a beautiful time of year!!
            Rich

            5 Replies
            1. re: rancher rick
              o
              OliverB Nov 4, 2013 07:15 AM

              Thanks so much, Rich - that's really helpful and about what I expected from big resort dining; I appreciate your advice! We'll skip meals at the hotel with the exception of charcuterie and wine at Grapes, and perhaps a lunch at the Waldenhaus. I'll definitely add The Bison to our itinerary based on your feedback. I would like to do the Grizzly House for fondue one evening as well; just because it's purported to be the oldest establishment in the valley and looks like a lot of fun. I think we'll skip The Banffshire also because it sounds like the more expensive and formal white tablecloth dining experiences are liable to disappoint. I suppose economically it's difficult to sustain that level of dining in such a place (remote seasonal destination) without gearing wholly towards the tourist industry; that's why all of the upscale($$$) places are found within the big hotels. I would never visit Banff expecting 'Eleven Madison Park' level dining, but it sounds and looks like all of the high-end white tablecloth establishments are guaged to extract the most cash from tourists as possible without matching quality or value. For this reason, I think we'll play it safe and stick to the more casual spots. It's a shame that there aren't more locally-driven upscale establishments doing a more refined take on rustic regional terroir like you have in Quebec City for instance, at places like Panache and Le Patriarche. I'm also surprised there doesn't seem to be many (or any) quaint bistros focussed on locally sourced fish/fowl/game that *aren't* also serving giant platings of oversized fancied-up burgers to the ski bums and family crowds. Again, something like L'Echaude or the many smaller mid-range bistros found in Montreal. The surrounding environment and seasonal climate would seem like an obvious fit for that kind of cuisine and intimate space. I used to stay at the Fairmont Chateau Frontenac often when I was still in Montreal, and I suppose I'd been basing much of my expectations for Banff dining on what I'd come to know from QC. It seems like Banff is a much younger scene though. Oh well... the food comes second in a place like this and I'm sure we'll have an incredibly magical and memorable White Christmas in the mountains regardless of where we end up eating! That said... any suggestions for our remaining 2 evening meals if we're doing The Bison and Grizzly House? Anything similar to The Bison but perhaps in a more cozy/quiet space?

              Thanks again for the helpfull feedback and great tips!!

              1. re: OliverB
                r
                rancher rick Nov 4, 2013 10:03 AM

                Have just read your most articulate response & you have a good sense of the Banff "dining scene".
                Another spot to avoid is the Magpie & Stump which is frequented by the young ski bum crowd, not that there is anything wrong with being 20 something. I was there once! I had a meal there last May while my wife was at a conference meeting. I quickly regretted my choice. It`s TEX-Mex but not in a good way! I`ve travelled the SouthWest & love the regional interpretations there. The kitchen staff should be embarassed!
                I wish that I could recommend other places beside Bison but I really can`t offer any. There was an interesting article in the Globe & Mail last year by Ian Brown bemoaning the lack of quality dining in Banff. As you suggest, it`s a "no-brainer" for such an oustandingly beautiful environment.
                I noted your reference to QC with interest. Friends recently spent a week there at the Fairmont & sent us several texts re: wonderful dinners they had during their stay.
                If you should happen to be in Calgary for any length of time, I highly recommend The River Cafe on Prince`s Island in the urban core. Been dining there for several years, its a strong personal favorite & consistently high quality on every level.
                Again, enjoy Alberta & Banff!

                1. re: rancher rick
                  o
                  OliverB Nov 4, 2013 06:55 PM

                  Thanks again for all of your help, Rick! It's a shame there aren't more options in the area but at least we now know what to expect; your posts were really appreciated!

                  I'll make note of The River Cafe as well since we're flying into and out of Calgary. I doubt we'll have much time to spend in the city on this trip though. We're flying out of YYC late evening on the 24th and straight into LAX to spend Christmas Day with my wife's family down in SoCal... the best of both worlds! :)

                  Cheers and Happy Holidays!

                  1. re: OliverB
                    cellophane_star Nov 5, 2013 09:21 AM

                    River Cafe may be closed during that time as well.

                    1. re: cellophane_star
                      c
                      cancowboy Nov 5, 2013 09:38 AM

                      http://www.river-cafe.com/
                      At the bottom of their webpage
                      "Closed On: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and for the month of January"

            2. paulj Nov 3, 2013 11:35 PM

              Earlier thread on the meats at The Bison
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/904827

              there seems to be a Banff update once or twice a year
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/893371

              1. cellophane_star Nov 4, 2013 08:32 AM

                At the Banff Springs hotel, eat at the Waldhaus Restaurant. The setting is great (so Canadian winter-esque) and the food is great too! Castello's is also great (Italian).

                I also really like the Bison for brunch, lunch or dinner and Wild Flour Cafe for casual breakfast (love their birchermuesli and healthier desserts).

                I recently attended a conference at the Banff Conference Centre (just down the road from the Springs) and really enjoyed a dinner at their Three Ravens restaurant. Anyone can eat there, not just conference attendees.

                Oh and do go to the Willow Stream spa at the hotel! The mineral baths are INCREDIBLE.

                1 Reply
                1. re: cellophane_star
                  s
                  Shazam Nov 4, 2013 01:04 PM

                  Nice, thanks for the suggestion about Three Ravens.

                  The outdoor pool at the Banff Springs Hotel is one of the greatest places in the universe.

                2. s
                  Shazam Nov 4, 2013 12:59 PM

                  I really liked Squish for sandwiches. Went there for lunch and was very pleasantly surprised.

                  Read the other thread mentioned, there's lots of good places.

                  1. o
                    OliverB Nov 5, 2013 02:52 PM

                    Has anyone tried the Mount Burgess Dining Room at Emerald Lake Lodge?

                    It looks like such a beautiful space that we may try to fit a dinner in after a day of skiing Lake Louise or hiking in Yoho. I'm just curious if the kitchen is any good?

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: OliverB
                      Office Broccoli Nov 5, 2013 02:59 PM

                      I have not been there, but if you cross country ski or snowshoe, lunch at Lake O'Hara Lodge is worth a visit. It's offered seasonally, call ahead to see if they're open. The ambience and satisfaction that you get from skiing11 km uphill to have lunch is fantastic.

                      1. re: Office Broccoli
                        o
                        OliverB Nov 5, 2013 09:46 PM

                        I would love to do that but I'm not sure my wife would go for it, haha. She's not great with cold weather and I doubt she's been on x-country skis before. I took her snowshoeing for the first time at Badger Pass in Yosemite last winter and while she had a great time, she was ready to get back to the lodge and warm up by the fire after an hour and a half of moderate back country snowshowing off trail. Do you know how long it would take (approx) to make the excursion? I've been looking at O'Hara Lodge for a fall hike next year (along with Skoki Lodge and Twin Falls Chalet) but I'm not sure we'll have the time with our packed itinerary and short stay in Banff on this trip. I really wanted to do an overnight at Skoki Lodge by horseback but there's a 2 night minimum stay required which makes sense, but we simply don't have the time.

                        Are you familiar with Baker Creek Bistro @ Baker Creek Lodge by any chance? It's another great looking historic setting off the Bow Valley Pkwy that I'd considered for a mealtime.

                        1. re: OliverB
                          Office Broccoli Nov 6, 2013 06:49 AM

                          Skoki is awesome. I have not actually been to the lodge but I skied up to the halfway hut last year. I have never snowshoed the Lake O'Hara fire road, but my guess probably half day to day trip return depending on your fitness level. It's quite the downhill on the way back on skis. If I remember correctly its 2-3 hours uphill on skis. I've never been to Baker Creek but it sounds great. Oh if you are in Lake Lousie and looking for a snack, I recommend Laggan's bakery. Get there in the morning for best selection. Great for quick takeout breakkie or snack on your way to the hill.

                      2. re: OliverB
                        vanderb Nov 6, 2013 06:57 AM

                        I have been to the Mount Burgess Dining room both for a wedding dinner that was not "on menu" and on other occassion from the menu. I have not been disappointed on any visit and have particularily enjoyed the carcutterie platter to start and all the game meats in their main courses.

                        This could be a very good day trip option as you can rent snowshoes and x-country skis at the cabin by the lake. They rent by the hour if my memory is good and could help to work up an appetite for a warm up and dinner at the lodge afterwards.

                        If you're willing to go to Emerald Lake, try and fit in lunch (or dinner) at Truffle Pigs bistro in the tiny hamlet of Field (just before the turn off to Emerald Lake). Some of the finest and most memorable meals I've ever had have been at Truffle Pigs.

                        1. re: vanderb
                          o
                          OliverB Nov 7, 2013 02:04 PM

                          Thank you so much for the very helpful tips!

                          To be certain, you can access Emerald Lake Lodge by vehicle, right? Snowshoeing and x-country skiing are optional activities around the lake? If so, perhaps we'll spend an hour or two on the trails just before dusk and then head back to the lodge to warm up with a hearty meal!

                          I'll look into Truffle Pigs as well; thanks again!!

                          1. re: OliverB
                            s
                            Shazam Nov 7, 2013 03:49 PM

                            According to the website, a shuttle bus will need to pick you up.

                            http://www.crmr.com/emerald/getting-h...

                            1. re: OliverB
                              vanderb Nov 8, 2013 01:07 AM

                              You can access ELL by vehicle, Shazam mentions a shuttle bus but that is only if you are staying at the hotel. If you are visiting to hike/x-country ski/snoeshoe or go to one of the restaurants you can park in the lot right up by the lake.

                              The rental shop for the skis and snoeshoes is a small (terribly quaint) cabin right next to the parking lot before you cross the bridge to the actual resort. All very civilized.

                              This may help in your Truffle Pigs research - http://www.trufflepigs.com/bistro/

                        2. h
                          hclass Nov 8, 2013 07:56 AM

                          Banffshire club has revamped its menu and I think chef not too long ago. We really enjoyed our meal there over labour day weekend and appies were around $12 and entrees $32 so much lower compared to in the past.

                          Samurai sushi in the hotel is also a good option. But it's a very small room so make sure to reserve ahead, you can always cancel. I suggest this for any restaurant in the hotel I recommend here. If you go with a boat here the final tab is very reasonable too.

                          Waldhaus restaurant got a full renovation very recently and the new room looks great. I've been happy with the food here and always go for the schnitzel.

                          The other options at the hotel are meh ime besides the pantry for very casual and fast bites. Grapes doesn't open till 5pm I think so lunch won't be an option.

                          I've stayed at the springs around a dozen times now so have a bit of experience and just wanted to say dont overlook the options above. The banff restaurant scene could use a few new spots for sure.

                          15 Replies
                          1. re: hclass
                            o
                            OliverB Nov 8, 2013 01:30 PM

                            Thanks so much!

                            I hope the reno at Waldhaus hasn't ruined the "vintage charm" of the place. I just made reservations here (and The Bison too) to be safe.

                            That's interesting about Banffshire Club; would 2 people be able to enjoy a good meal for ~$100 +tax/tip not incl. drinks? I don't think I'd want to spend any more than that without knowing for certain that the experience will be worth it. I've heard too many conflicting reviews and taken in context of the surrounding restaurant scene, I'm just not sure it's a safe bet. According to the hotel's website, it actually reopens for the season on the very day that we arrive... I'm not sure if that's a risky thing also. I'll do a bit more research, I suppose.

                            Can anyone tell me whether The Grizzly House is as terrible as some of the reviews I've read? Does anyone know anything about the source or grade of the meats? I ask because I like to eat in "fun" mid century restaurants and coming from San Francisco, we have many vintage establishments where the food (while not necessarily chef-driven) is as strong as anywhere else. Places like The Big 4 in The Huntington, Original Joe's, etc. My wife and I often alternate between more contemporary seasonal menus and these old twof-sited meat and martini spots. The Grizzly House looks a lot rougher around the edges, but could still be a fun experience... however I've read bad stuff about the quality of the meats, the cleanliness of the place and kitchen, the smell of grease, etc. Should I steer clear and eat at Grapes on our first night? The room is beautiful and old world with an unbeatable view, and they surely source higher quality meats and cheeses for their fondues, right?

                            Here's a tentative run down of our itinerary:

                            ==================================================================================================================

                            THU, DECEMBER 19:
                            _________________

                            * 08:30 AM - Depart SFO for Calgary International Airport (YYC) - [6:45 Arrival Time for Int'l Flight!]

                            * 12:15 PM - Arrival at YYC; Baggage Claim, Avis 4WD Rental

                            * 01:15 PM - Banff Springs via {1-A} Bow Valley Parkway!

                            * 03:00 PM - Arrival and Check-In at Banff Springs Hotel - (Upgrade to Gold Mountain Suite)

                            * 04:00 PM - Late Afternoon Charcuterie and Wine at Grapes Wine Bar

                            * 05:00 PM - Explore the Hotel's Historic Grounds and Interior; Cascade Ballroom, Conservatory, Riverview Lounge, etc.

                            * 06:45 PM - Private Cutter Sleigh Ride Through Snowy Mountain Meadows from Warner Stables

                            * 08:00 PM - Dinner at The Grizzly House

                            * 10:00 PM - Board Games and Spiced Buttered Scotch in The Oak Room

                            * 11:00 PM - Latenight Christmas Cartoons and Holiday Movies!

                            FRI, DECEMBER 20:
                            _________________

                            * 07:45 AM - Early Morning Rise and Quick Breakfast in The Bow Valley Grill or Castle Pantry

                            * 10:45 AM - Bow Valley Parkway to Lake Louise Ski Resort; Day Pass + Ski Package Rental - (Sunshine Village, Depending on Snow Conditions!)

                            * 01:30 PM - Lunch at Temple / Whiskey Jack Lodge

                            * 05:00 PM - Return to Hotel; Relax with Movies, Hot Toddies, etc.

                            * 07:45 PM - Dinner at The Waldhaus

                            * 09:15 PM - Ice Skating at The Fairmont Banff Springs' Outdoor Skating Rink at Spray Meadow

                            * 10:00 PM - Domaine Perrot-Minot Burgundy + Holiday Movies in Room!

                            SAT, DECEMBER 21:
                            _________________

                            * 09:00 AM - In-Room Breakfast and Christmas Cartoons

                            * 11:00 AM - Sulfur Mountain Gondola to the Banff Skywalk/Vista Trail and Cosmic Ray Station National Historic Site + Sanson’s Peak Meteorological Station

                            * 02:00 PM - Lunch at Bear Street Tavern

                            * 04:40 PM - Scenic Drive Along Vermilion Lakes Road + Mount Norquay Road (Mount Norquay Scenic Dr) at Sundown

                            * 05:30 PM - Relax at Hotel; Board Games and Hot Cider with Bourbon in Mount Stephen Hall

                            * 06:45 PM - Walk Around Downtown Banff; Hudson's Bay Co.

                            * 07:30 PM - Dinner at The Bison Restaurant

                            * 09:15 PM - Starlight Swim in Heated Outdoor Pool

                            * 10:00 PM - Cocktails, Single Malts, and Ports in the Ramsay Lounge

                            * 10:30 PM - Mulled Wine, Christmas Cartoons and Room Service!

                            SUN, DECEMBER 22:
                            _________________

                            * 09:00 AM - In-Room Breakfast and Holiday Movies

                            * 12:00 PM - Willow Stream Spa: 'Majestic Blue' / 'Rockies Rehydration' Massage and Treatment; Mineral and Plunge Pools, Waterfalls and Baths

                            * 02:30 PM - Lunch at Melissa's Missteak (or) Maple Leaf Grille (or) Saltlik

                            * 03:30 PM - Scenic Drive to Lake Minnewanka (Lake Minnewanka Scenic Dr)

                            * 05:00 PM - Ice Skating on Lake Louise at Twilight - (?)

                            * 07:00 PM - Dinner at Mount Burgess Dining Room at Emerald Lake Lodge - (?)

                            [OR]

                            * 08:45 AM - In-Room Breakfast and Holiday Movies

                            * 10:45 AM - Willow Stream Spa: 'Majestic Blue' / 'Rockies Rehydration' Massage and Treatment; Mineral and Plunge Pools, Waterfalls and Baths

                            * 12:30 PM - Take-Out Lunch from Barpa Bill's Souvlaki

                            * 02:00 PM - Kingmik Dog Sled Tours; "Great Divide Tour" from Banff Nat'l Park to Yoho Nat'l Park via Kicking Horse Pass at the Continental Divide

                            * 04:00 PM - Ice Skating on Lake Louise at Dusk

                            * 05:00 PM - Hot Toddies in Walliser Stube and Cocktails in the Lakeview Lounge

                            * 06:30 PM - Dinner at Mount Burgess Dining Room at Emerald Lake Lodge (or) Walliser Stube at Chateau Lake Louise

                            * 10:30 PM - Christmas Cartoons and Holiday Movies!

                            [OR]

                            * 08:15 AM - Willow Stream Spa: 'Majestic Blue' / 'Rockies Rehydration' Massage and Treatment; Mineral and Plunge Pools, Waterfalls and Baths

                            * 10:00 AM - Take-Out Picnic Lunch from the Castle Pantry

                            * 12:00 PM - Kingmik Dog Sled Tours; "Great Divide Tour" from Banff Nat'l Park to Yoho Nat'l Park via Kicking Horse Pass at the Continental Divide

                            * 04:30 PM - Wintery Afternoon Wonderland on Emerald Lake: Snowshoe and Cross-Country Ski Rental Equipment by Lakefront Cabin

                            * 06:00 PM - Hot Cider and Whiskey Toddies in the Mount Burgess Dining Room at Emerald Lake Lodge

                            * 07:00 PM - Dinner at Truffle Pigs Bistro in Field

                            * 10:30 PM - Christmas Cartoons and Holiday Movies!

                            MON, DECEMBER 23:
                            _________________

                            * 08:15 AM - Scenic Lookout Point at "Surprise Corner" Observation Deck at Daybreak - (Along Tunnel Mountain Road)

                            * 09:00 AM - Early Morning Ice Walk on Johnston Canyon Trail - (Ice Cleats Rental at Chateau Mountain Sport)

                            * 12:30 PM - Return to Hotel and Check-Out

                            * 12:45 PM - Lunch at Melissa's Missteak (or) Maple Leaf Grille (or) Saltlik

                            * 01:45 PM - Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies ~ (Mon-Fri: 1pm-5pm and Tue, Wed, Fri Mornings by 24hr Advance Appointment; Closed Weekends)

                            * 03:00 PM - Return to Calgary via {1-A} Bow Valley Parkway

                            * 03:30 PM - Quick Foodstop at Baker Creek Bistro off the Bow Valley Pkwy + La Belle Patate in Canmore for Poutine! - (Alt. Options: The Trough, Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co.)

                            * 05:30 PM - Arrival at YYC for 07:15 Departure to LAX!

                            Additional Activities + Options
                            _______________________________

                            * Visit Cave and Basin National Historic Site of Canada via the Bow River Bridge; Tour the Discovery and Marsh Boardwalk Trails - Optional Hike via Sundance Trail to Sundance Canyon

                            * Maligne Canyon Icewalk in Jasper Nat'l Park

                            * Snowshoeing / Cross Country Skiing in Sunshine Meadows

                            * Tunnel Mountain Trail Loop Hike (Upper and Lower Trailhead) to Summit(?)

                            * Banff Park Museum - (Closed for Season?)

                            1. re: OliverB
                              Office Broccoli Nov 8, 2013 03:29 PM

                              What a delightful itinerary! Reminds me that I need to get out more in my own backyard. You will love the Willow Stream Spa.

                              1. re: OliverB
                                r
                                rancher rick Nov 10, 2013 02:39 PM

                                As mentioned already, great intinerary which will make for a fabulous vacation in the Canaian Rockies.
                                The Banffshire with it`s opening close to your arrival could be a litttle suspect despite the "adjusted" pricing. A few summers ago we had lunch/drinks on the patio off the main lounge at the Springs. It was painfully obvious that the staff training was a "work in progress". Almost none of the staff had a clue as to what they were supposed to be doing, ie, meals being brought to the wrong tables, etc. Fascinating in a perverse sort of way!
                                I`d recommend Grapes for a fondue in an intimate setting first night It`s always a requisite visit on our stays there.
                                I haven`t been to the Grizzly for years so I can`t really comment on the current status. If the cleanliness factor/food quality is anything like the Magpie & Stump which I referenced in a previous post, it sure merits a pass.
                                Enjoy!

                                1. re: OliverB
                                  vanderb Nov 11, 2013 04:32 AM

                                  That is a very detailed itinerary... for your Sunday options I'd lean towards option 3, but that's mostly because I'm such a huge fan of Truffle Pigs. If you haven't already, I'd double check they are open Sunday, I'm 99% sure they are but it's worth confirming.

                                  The bar in the lodge at Emerald Lake also does outstanding Caesar's, trimmed with either pickled asparagus or pickled green beans. Just don't let the Aussie staff try and convince you a Caesar can be made with anything other than vodka (drives me nuts).

                                  1. re: vanderb
                                    c
                                    Chadsie Nov 11, 2013 04:43 AM

                                    yes but Fairmont is such a bad chain the four seasons for instance has a aaa five diamond in whistler and Fairmont does not

                                    1. re: Chadsie
                                      vanderb Nov 11, 2013 05:54 AM

                                      The OP has made his decision where he plans to travel, I'm simply trying to help with the food at the destination.

                                      1. re: Chadsie
                                        d
                                        DianneYYC Nov 18, 2013 06:00 PM

                                        Leave it alone. Banff is great.

                                        1. re: DianneYYC
                                          r
                                          rancher rick Nov 20, 2013 11:52 AM

                                          "Banff is great".... Really???? How about "Banff could be great"? I do believe Banff could be great but most of the places are just focused on relieving the tourists of their dollars. So many people working in these restaurants simply don`t have any idea of what good food is/should be. I don`t blame them, they`re working for minimum wage. It`s a management & a system`s issue.

                                          1. re: rancher rick
                                            s
                                            Scary Bill Nov 21, 2013 07:44 AM

                                            You really have a burr under your saddle. Banff is so much more than restaurants, and if you don't like Banff restaurants, don't eat at them. Not every restaurant in Banff is like the River Café, nor should they be. Banff appeals to a younger demographic generally, and you and I are likely both not a target market for most restaurants. Banff also, I expect, has a transient service sector, so many establishments likely have a great deal of turnover, always problematic for an establishments consistency.

                                            1. re: Scary Bill
                                              r
                                              rancher rick Nov 21, 2013 08:10 AM

                                              Burr under my saddle? Hardly!
                                              Banff is supposed to be a "world class destination" so is there any reason that restaurants there shouldn`t meet that standard. Whistler has far better restaurants.
                                              I sure don`t expect "every" restaurant to be be like River Cafe but is it too much to expect at least some of the restaurants in Banff to present a level of food quality & service that one finds at River Cafe and many other fine Calgary restaurants.
                                              Yes, there are places in Banff that serve the transient ski demographic & it would seem that demographic is well served, ie, McDonalds, Magpie & Stump, et al.
                                              Ian Brown, a noted journalist, wrote an article in the G&M several months ago lamenting the paucity of fine dining in Banff. Of course, the Globe & Mail may be too "high brow" for you so you may have missed it.

                                              1. re: rancher rick
                                                s
                                                Scary Bill Nov 21, 2013 08:24 AM

                                                The Globe & what?

                                                Sorry, I'm more of an Economist or WSJ reader, and neither has covered Banff in years. I also read the Toronto Star, just to understand the opposition.

                                                1. re: Scary Bill
                                                  r
                                                  rancher rick Nov 21, 2013 11:41 AM

                                                  "Understand the opposition"? More than a little partisan, I would guess......."those latte drinking, Volvo driving elitists".
                                                  Ford Nation, Anyone?

                                                  1. re: rancher rick
                                                    s
                                                    Scary Bill Nov 21, 2013 01:42 PM

                                                    You are correct.

                                                    Complex views on Ford Nation, however not the forum, other than to say he appears to be an indiscriminate eater of great portions.

                                                2. re: rancher rick
                                                  s
                                                  Shazam Nov 25, 2013 09:26 AM

                                                  Whistler's still around, feel free to go there.

                                                  OP wanted suggestions for Banff, so here we are. Saying he should go to Whistler instead is hardly constructive.

                                          2. re: Chadsie
                                            slowcoooked Nov 24, 2013 12:46 PM

                                            I've only stayed in the Banff Fairmont, so cannot comment about others, but our stay in Feb. 2012 was an absolutely luxurious experience. This is a fantastic choice!!!

                                    2. c
                                      Chadsie Nov 10, 2013 09:54 PM

                                      I would avoid Fairmont they are terrible why don't you go to Whistler and stay at Four Seasons and dine at Araxi

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Chadsie
                                        o
                                        OliverB Nov 11, 2013 02:07 PM

                                        Because we're not interested in going to Whistler. As you can see from the posted itinerary above, this is not primarily a ski nor food vacation. I would much rather stay in a place of foregone and distinct architectural signifigance; a national landmark in the grand château style of the historic CP railway hotels, surrounded by Canada's first established wilderness preserves, amongst soaring snow-capped glacial peaks and strikingly magnificent vistas, then spend the holidays in a typical modern luxe property. I'm sure the Four Seasons is a lovely hotel and Whistler may be a nice winter resort town, but neither have anything to do with out trip. Why not forgo all plans and just fly to Switzerland instead?

                                        1. re: OliverB
                                          cellophane_star Nov 12, 2013 09:51 AM

                                          Don't listen to him/her... Banff Springs Hotel is beautiful and so is Banff itself. I mean, Whistler's great too but it's 12 hours away. it's like saying "Why go to California when you could go to Hawaii instead?" Ok, not really, but it seems like an odd suggestion for someone to give when you're already booked for Banff!

                                          1. re: cellophane_star
                                            c
                                            Chadsie Nov 12, 2013 02:15 PM

                                            I agree Banff would be beautiful and wish you well

                                      2. The Chowhound Team Nov 12, 2013 06:34 AM

                                        We've moved a discussion of sushi fish to the General Topics board, at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/923974

                                        1. h
                                          hetook Nov 24, 2013 12:34 PM

                                          Hi, I'm actually a born & bread Banff-ite. There has been many changes to our great town. It has become ever more geared to foreign tourists but that's what it was created for.You can still sink into the mountain landscape like anytime before. It's a most magical place in the Rockies. For the best coffee in town, try a little place next to the cinema. I forget the name but it was once owned by my cousin.

                                          Show Hidden Posts