A Partial List of Pleasures Awaiting Visitors to Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada

Posted By Mike Padgett

Sept. 19, 2013

LAKE LOUISE, Alberta – One of our most memorable journeys took us to a historic hotel in the Canadian Rockies. It is a place of soaring mountain peaks, ancient glaciers and icy lakes, this destination where nature’s beauty competes with hotel luxury.


Life is too short, so 12 months ago we indulged ourselves with a few days at the luxury Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. The hotel occupies an important place in the history of Canada’s westward expansion in the late 1800s. Plus, this Canadian icon is surrounded by  majestic mountains blanketed with evergreen forests.


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The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is an elegant hotel where – if it were possible – we would grab time’s pendulum to stop the clock.


Our stay at the hotel in the small community of Lake Louise fits into the mother lode of upscale travel. The eight-floor hotel – it has 554 rooms – is dignified and polished but not overdone. The many positives we experienced at this hotel place it very high on our list of favorite high-end hotels.


After checking out, we thanked the vacation gods for giving us a string of sunny days in a region that often receives significant rainfall during its short summers.


Today, a year later, I often think about our stay at this luxury hotel. It is in a region where nature occupies center stage. On the nearby Trans Canada Highway are fenced overpasses built for wildlife to use to avoid traffic.


Besides the friendly and helpful employees, many other things to love about the hotel and its surroundings include:


• The rugged beauty of the mountains surrounding the lake and the hotel.


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• Tranquil walks at sunrise in the clean mountain air on the trail along the glacial lake.


• Stops on the trail to look back at the hotel and its image reflected in the lake’s mirror-smooth surface. The only sound is morning mist dripping from trees.


• The lake’s brilliant turquoise color, caused by “rock flour” created by glaciers grinding rocks into powder. Melting snow and ice carry the rock flour into the lake that freezes during winter.


• Breathtaking vistas of the lake. Between some of the snowy peaks are glaciers.


• Pausing to relax on a trail bench made from peeled logs sawed in half lengthways. Across the lake is the rental canoe dock.


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• Breezes whispering through the dense evergreen forest.


• Morning dew dripping from the trees and merging into tiny rivulets that trickle off the slopes, across the trail and into the icy lake.


• The history of the lake and the luxury hotel, which traces its origin to a guest chalet built in 1890 by the Canadian Pacific Railway.


• The hotel’s colorful flowerbeds, kept fresh by a friendly staff.  Flowers dominate the landscaping between the hotel and the lake and also in creative arrangements in the driveway to the hotel’s main entrance.


• Watching the lake color change through the day, depending on smoothness of the water and the angle of the sun reflecting off the lake.


• Postcard vistas of the lake and the snow-capped mountains through the Lakeview Lounge’s arched windows.


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• The ethnic mix of hotel guests speaking languages from the Far East to Europe and the Middle East.


• The tasty menu selections at the hotel restaurant, the Glacier Saloon. For economical meals and for picnickers, the hotel’s sandwich shop offers a wide selection of fresh sandwiches and hot meals.


• The private Gold Lounge on the seventh floor. We’re not fond of crowds, so this level of privacy and service is worth the extra price. We enjoyed our breakfasts here. In the afternoons, the private lounge offers an honor bar and generous canapés. We had our choice of tables close to windows or in alcoves. The windows offer upper-floor views stretching from the hotel’s entrance to the mountain peaks in the distance.  For privacy, we chose tables in the alcoves.


• The courtesy and conscientiousness of hotel and restaurant employees. Hotel staff in the Gold Lounge and at the front desk helped us receive and return documents to negotiate a real estate transaction during our stay.


• The view of the lake from our corner room’s windows. Several mornings, we watched a morning breeze cross the lake, painting its glassy surface with ripples.




• Relaxing with favorite books in our room or in the concierge floor lounge at the end of the day.


• Finding excuses to walk again along the lake. Photo ops are around every turn in the trail.


• A thundering sound echoes occasionally across the lake, even on sunny days. We are told the sounds likely are snow avalanches in the mountains.


• Reading about the hotel’s history, and imagining the challenges construction workers faced before there were power tools and concrete trucks.


Sadly, major flooding scarred Alberta’s beauty in June. Floodwaters damaged or destroyed homes, businesses, bridges and roads. Southeast of Lake Louise, the Trans Canada Highway was closed for a short time because floodwaters damaged the four-lane highway between Banff and Canmore. Nearly a week later, the highway was repaired and reopened.


We send Albertans our wishes for a speedy recovery from the historic flooding. Theirs is a magnificent country where its natural beauty can erase fatigue.


Our experience at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise boosted our interest in luxury travel. We are planning more similar journeys in our slower and gentler lifestyle AD, or After Deadlines.



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Sep 19th, 2013

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