Monday, September 22, 2014

Where Luxury Meets Nature: Chateau Lake Louise

Today is your day!  Your Mountain is waiting.  So...get on your way.
Dr. Seuss

So long as there have been impossibly beautiful vistas, the rich have been there, claiming them for their own.

Chateau Lake Louise is no different, though there is a place where the plebeians are able to come out and take a good look and hike around the lake without paying an arm and a leg to do so.

Barry had stayed at Chateau Lake Louise a few years ago for meetings (let me rewrite the first sentence, the rich - and people spending others' money - claim it for their own!)  :-)

I had never been and since we were spending little on accommodations, we decided that a one-time, one-night splurge at the Chateau would be the perfect 29th wedding anniversary present.  And to add even more expense, we wanted a lakefront room.  Go big or stay home is sometimes the order of the day!

We were not disappointed.

The thing about Lake Louise is that it doesn't look real.  It seems simply too fabulous, too pristine, too perfectly arranged to have occurred naturally.

It is that aberration of nature: the perfect location.  You wouldn't change anything.  And you take a lot of pictures and none of them do it justice.

The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is the spectator of it all, the expensive bleachers positioned 'just so' to heighten the experience.

The interior is quintessential Old Fairmont and the hotel reminded me very much of my beloved Algonquin, which though it lacks a mountain view, has a pretty nice ocean view for a fraction of what we paid at Lake Louise.

The view out the room was breathtaking.

I am not going to lie: I am not a cheap hotel person.  But the cost of one night gave me pause.  I am very mindful of the abject poverty and struggle of many in my own country and around the world and I do not really delight in reading about people staying in very expensive, exotic spots, although I do admire the decor!  Plus, I am on a fixed income.

But I rationalized this in my head and it is true that you can rationalize anything expensive if you want to, which explains how I can buy some of the boots I have in my closet....I know - there is a whole school in Vienna waiting to examine the inner workings of this noggin....

Caveat aside, this is a beautiful hotel.  Nothing cheap here.  The grounds are beautiful, the trails are divine - you can hike all the way to the glacier - though I would say that the hiking here is not hard core hiking and it is VERY crowded.  I much preferred where my brother took us for the sense of being out in nature.

What I would say about Lake Louise is this: it is amazing.  But it feels more like you are walking around in a very good painting than in the wilderness.  It is so perfect that it is almost daunting in its perfection.  You get the feeling that someone said once "Let's show the folks what things might look like Heaven" and so they made Lake Louise.

Painting by Paul Rupert

The service at the hotel is top-notch and we were treated exceptionally.  When they discovered that it was our anniversary, our dinner table was lakeside.  We could not have asked for more.

There are many lovely small shops as well.  In one we found two lovely prints - one that reminded us of our hotel room, and one of the Algonquin, both of which were once Canadian Pacific Hotels, then Fairmont.  The Algonquin is no longer owned by Fairmont, but has been lovingly and expensively restored - and brought them home.

I also bought a lovely blown-glass Christmas ornament of a bellhop - apparently Fairmont will have a series of ornaments and I do love a Christmas keepsake.

The food was excellent and not as pricey as one would think.  We had the table d'hote at the Fairview and it was a great deal.

We didn't leave until exactly checkout time the next morning - we wanted to wring every last cent out of that hotel bill and out of the amazing vista so we went for a long walk to work off some of the amazing food we had.

Of course I would recommend the Chateau - who wouldn't?  However, you can get the same experience - walking the lake, eating at the restaurant - staying at one of the other two hotels in the area which are a bit cheaper.

And it is crowded, all those people from every part of the world, all converging on this one place so they can be part of the painting as well.

Lake Louise has no downtown, unlike Banff or Jasper, both of which have their own Fairmont properties.  They of course, have spectacular views as well.  They just don't have THE VIEW.

I should mention that we did stop in Banff and I had been there before.  I didn't really take much in the way of pictures.  It is a lovely town but it is VERY touristy.  If you want more wildlife, as many mountains, equally good restaurants and a lot fewer people, Jasper is your place.  It is less expensive and lacks the Disney-esque-ness of Banff.  Not that I'm knocking Disney - you know I love my Disney!

We were sad to leave Alberta, especially to leave my brother and his family, but plan, now that we are mostly just travelling à deux, to go there every two or three years to keep our connections strong.

Plus, there is so much more to see....

Now it is back to the real world of writing and complaining about politics and getting the house ready for winter!

I hope you enjoyed these photos - I know there were lots, but I truly feel that Alberta, like my own New Brunswick, is worth a wonderful, extended visit!

Have a great day and stay safe out there!  xoxo wendy  


  1. Your travel photos and travelogue are great. So glad you had a wonderful time.

  2. Well done Wendy and what a wonderful anniversary gift you and Barry treated yourselves to. Etched in my mind is my dear Grandma Cooper's habitually prim countenance come to life with a twinkle in her eye as she answered my question of what was her favorite place of all the many places she had been. I was expecting someplace in the Alps as she always raved about Switzerland or Bavaria as she led a group from her Church to the 400th Anniversary of the Passion Play but was so surprised it was from our Northern neighbor she found the most beautiful. "Lake Louise" came her answer and her tone and delightful smile told me how special it was to her and now me. She and Grandpa weren't wealthy only retired school teachers who scrimped and saved and invested wisely. I can't imagine them staying in that fancy hotel so they were likely day-trippers who took in that same marvelous view that you did and felt closer to God. I'll make it their myself one day and I'll remember her lovely smile as she told me of her visit.

    1. GSL - you will love it! I see you holding forth in the bar overlooking the lake! Or in the swiss themed bar (where we held forth before we went to dinner). Your grandma is right!

  3. How beautiful and literally postcard-perfect. We have this one on our list but this list is going to be set aside as we are spending all of our money on our renovations, and I want to get to the Algonquin first so I can visit some good friends I have in that area... ;)
    When we were in England this summer we met many people who said they had been to Canada which they thought was SO beautiful and perfect... guess where they went: Lake Louise, more than once too I should add, a couple of fellows had been 5 or 6 times. I was pretty surprised, I didn't realize it was THE place and of course our country is so big there are many different travel experiences.
    Thanks for the great review Wenders. :)

    1. Dani - I hear you! We are taking small trips for awhile! Plus, the Algonquin will be soooo much more affordable in the short term!!!!

  4. incredibly stunning, and what an absolutely gorgeous place to celebrate your anniversary! I think it's nice that you and Barry splurged on your stay. For most it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to even visit, so why not go all out if at all possible? Also glad to hear that you are heading back this way every couple of years. Maybe next time you can cross over the border so I can show around my part of the Rockies (this includes Glacier National Park, btw). :)

    1. Melissa - will definitely do that! We are considering taking the train from either Edmonton or Vancouver the next time as well!

  5. What a gorgious view you had from your room!
    This will be such a great memory for you!
    Happy Belated Anniversary!!!

  6. Hi Wendy, as you know I've been looking forward to this post, and you did not disappoint! Wow ... just wow! We lived in Alberta for 3 years and really enjoyed our time there. We lived in a small prairie town but I'm so glad we also managed to make a couple of trips to Jasper and Banff. Next time we must go to Lake Louise!

    I think it's wonderful that you and Barrie splurged on the Chateau Lake Louise for your anniversary - and I laughed that you stayed until the very last minute. I'd do that too!

    1. Patricia - you have to promise to send me some of your travel pics offline! I am dying to hear all about it!

    2. Wendy, I'll see what I can do. Most of our photos will probably feature an assortment of European pensioners - we're going to visit a former university lecturer, my friend's mum, my old landlady in Germany and a German couple that I met in Scotland in 1979! However, we'll have 3 full days in Berlin on our own, I'm sure we'll manage to capture some sights!

  7. Happy belated Anniversary! Looks like you had a wonderful time. Lake Louise is truly spectacular. I've been there once and walked through the Fairmont, but stayed at one of those less expensive places. :) Glad you splurged for the special occasion!

  8. Thanks for the photos, Wendy! It's one of my favourite places (after BC, of course).

    1. Well you have lots of mountains where you are too, don't you?

  9. Thank you so much for the photos, Wendy! I always miss Western Canada, but especially when people post photos of it!!! My family and I visited Lake Louise many times when I lived in Alberta. It really is picture perfect. It's better to go in the off-season when it is not so crowded. If you are looking for more wilderness, next time you visit Alberta, drive down to Waterton National Park. If you want a truly spectacular view, check out the Prince of Wales Hotel.

    1. The funny thing is that we were are the beginning of the off-season and people kept telling us it wasn't crowded. that gave me the willies!

  10. Wow, this place is jaw dropping. I am seriously blown away just by the pictures. I can't imagine how beautiful it must be in person. I tend to be fairly frugal too, but when I do splurge it tends to be on nice hotel accommodations. From the looks of your pictures it looks like money well spent!

  11. Incredibly beautiful -- and brings back fond memories. We went hiking in Banff the 2nd summer we were married, and had such a wonderful time. Only got to Lake Louise as a side trip from Banff (where there were just better day-long trails), but the view is one that really sticks indelibly in your memory. Happy anniversary!

  12. Oh my gosh, Wendy its so glorious and the air is obviously so sharp there , you can see every outline of the mountains. I am adoring that pic of Barry, he looks the totally happy chap to be in such luxury with his bride! Isn't that blue carpet just dreamy too?

  13. Oh, the view, the view, the lake!
    I've always had an irrational fondness for Banff, not because I've ever been there but because of those 2 final F's. And Himself and I had one of those moments when we realized that as kids we both loved Larry Storch in - was it F Troop ?- he played a villain called The Burglar From BanF-F-F-F and he and the entire cast sputtered their way through pronouncing all the F's and a few extra.
    But that forever view... unbeatable.


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