A stay at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is like stepping back in time. Yes, your room or suite will have a luxurious bed and air conditioning and internet access. That’s part of the reason readers of Travel & Leisure voted the hotel into the #37 spot on the magazine’s list of the top 100 hotels in the US and Canada in their 10th Annual ”World’s Best Hotels” poll in 2005.

But take a look at the walls and the hotel asserts its history. Originally built in 1890, the Chalet on Lake Louise was a single level wood building with a veranda that attracted mountain climbers drawn to the many unscaled peaks in the Canadian Rocky that surround Lake Louise. These original guests and their mountaineering achievements are immortalized in black and white photos throughout the hotel.

Started in 1997, the hotel’s Mountain Heritage Program offers guided hikes every summer and each itinerary is designed to let even non-mountaineering guest enjoy the surrounding hills, whether on a half day five mile walk ($49 per person) or a full day seven mile hike ($69 per person). All hikes are lead by experienced and knowledgeable mountaineers on established trails, but if you want a little learning and a lot of entertainment with your walking, ask for a guide named Mike—imagine Jim Carey with a naturalist degree and years spent as a Parks Canada Warden and you’ve got Mike.

In the summer of 2006 the hotel finished a major landscaping project on the grounds between the main hotel building and the shores of Lake Louise. In accordance with a development agreement with Parks Canada, the Chateau committed itself to a program of NNNEI (No Net Negative Environmental Impact) which means they are only allowed to landscape with plants and grasses that are native to the area—with the exception of  the Chateau Poppies which have been a part of the property for over 80 years and are the reason that the Poppy Brasserie has its name. All of the messy work is done, but the plants themselves are expected to take a few seasons to grow in.

With the re-landscaping completed, hotel management has turned its attention to the question of what to do with an unused building to the right of the main hotel. Once the largest outdoor pool in Canada, the frosts and freezes of winter proved too much for the structure to handle, so the pool was moved inside where guests now enjoy a heated pool that’s large enough to do laps in, a Jacuzzi and a co-ed steam room. There’s also a small, but serviceable, gym off the pool room and both are accessible without traipsing through the Chateau’s lobby.

But what to do with the defunct outdoor pool building is an ongoing question and one that might, happily, yield the addition of  a Fairmont Willow Spa facility. The hotel’s original mountaineering guests would probably approve of a place to get a massage after a long day on the mountain.

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
111 Lake Louise Drive
Lake Louise, Alberta, T0L 1E0
Phone: (403) 522-3511



Our review of this hotel was originally published by iTraveliShop

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