It takes quite a bit for a hotel to wipe the frown off your face after you check into your room at 11 am, but your luggage doesn’t join you until 10 pm. The sincerest of apologies and a genuine sense that this was an honest mistake took the initial sting out of my lagging luggage. The comfortable, convenient hospitality of the Fairmont Palliser in Calgary, Canada, did the rest.

Like you, I don’t consider toaster waffles and watered-down orange juice to be an actual meal, let alone a hotel amenity (though many chains disagree with me on both points these days). So I was glad to see that the Fairmont Palliser defines breakfast the way I do with a well-stocked buffet or ala carte menu offering fine lox, fresh fruit, baked goods and eggs any way. And, yes, they’ll make you a waffle from scratch. It’s all served in a subdued room with private tables and discreet booths that seem made to foster productive business conversations.

I also appreciated the fact that the Palliser’s staff was wearing full cowboy regalia to support and celebrate the city’s annual Calgary Exhibition & Stampede which was happening during my visit. Never mind that some of them looked as if this was the only  time all year that they put on cowboy boots.

Another smile-inducing feature of the hotel is the Fairmont Gold concierge floor. Guests with Gold reservations enjoy a separate check in and check out desk on the third floor of the hotel in addition to complimentary deluxe continental breakfast, complimentary evening hors d’oeuvres and a fully stocked honor bar in the private lounge on the floor plus access to a fax machine and other business services. Even if you’re not there on business, these extras get you out the door fast and happy in the morning and create a wonderful, relaxing sanctuary to return to after a long day of sight seeing or shopping.

No matter what floor your room is located on, your plushly appointed bed will inspire sweet dreams—and perhaps an upgrade at home. And the sandstone building was designed in what’s called the Edwardian Commercial styles that employs an E-shape to ensure that all rooms get natural light. My room had one full wall of large unobstructed windows (which actually opened on the bottom!). They let in lots of sunshine and even allowed me to watch the nightly Stampede fireworks display over the nearby fairgrounds right from my bed.

Speaking of nearby, the downtown location of the Fairmont Palliser could not be more convenient. I walked to and from the Stampede each day, avoiding the traffic and parking nightmare at the fairgrounds and the crowded commuter bus service. And the heart of Calgary’s relaxed and varied downtown shopping districts—including the pedestrians-only Stephen Area Walk and the strip referred to as “Uptown 17” are both just a stroll away.

The Bay, a department store operated by the Hudson’s Bay Company, recently celebrated the Grand Opening of what they call the “Designer Depot.” Located on 8th Street SW (one block away from the hotel), the Depot offers 30,000 square feet of designer clothing for men, women and children as well as home goods at reduced prices.

In addition, the downtown shopping area boasts plenty of places to pick up some cowboy or cowgirl gear at classics retailers like Lamle’s and Riley & McCormick.  A few blocks further away (but still within walking distance) you’ll find the Alberta Boot Company, the official supplier of boots to Canada’s famous Mounties and THE place to invest in a pair of cowboy boots for yourself. Trust me on this.

A $20 million renovation of the entire Fairmont Palliser is planned to begin in the fall of 2007 and is expected to be completed by 2010. I was relieved to learn that the renovation will include the bathrooms which, during my stay, were more reminiscent of a motel than a hotel, with visibly beat up and tacky fixtures, toilets, towels, tubs and showers—though the pedestal sinks remain elegant.

It must be said that when it came time to check out of the Fairmont Palliser, I waited for almost an hour before the valet retrieved my Chevy Silverado, but I was in such a good mood from the rest of my stay that I figured this was simply a sign that they didn’t want me to leave. And at least I had my luggage!

The Fairmont Palliser
133 9th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2P 2M3
Phone: (800) 257-7544


Our review of this hotel was originally published by iTraveliShop

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