Touring the Historic Resorts of the Rockies

Hotels, What's New — By Jan Lee on February 21, 2011 at 5:34 am

The St. Eugene Golf Resort and Casino

Many travelers have the image of Banff and Jasper in mind when they think of the dramatic resorts of the Rockies. These hotels are the iconic symbols of luxury and historic beauty, and draw thousands of visitors to their doors each year. Banff Springs Hotel, a former Canadian Pacific Railroad hotel is a timeless example of “the best of the best” when it comes to elegant travel.

CPR Hotels in the Canadian Rockies
Yet in truth, Jasper and Banff are only two of many resorts found in the Canadian Rockies. They also are not the only historic landmarks of unusual travelers’ lodges in the Northwest. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the CPR constructed more than 30 elegant mansions and lodges in which to host their traveling guests. The beauty and character of these hotels reflected the CPR’s desire to impress its guests with the spectacular nature of their surroundings. The hotels were not just waysides in which to spend the night, but in many cases, a lavish reflection of the beauty of their natural environment.

Smaller hotels filled a niche in the remote communities. Balfour Hotel, whose balconies overlooked the shores of Kootenay Lake, near Kaslo, could only be reached by ferry boat from the train, and served as a vacation spot for curious rail passengers. Many a party and dinner was held on its property during its short life. Glacier House, located on Roger’s Pass, once served as a prestigious stop for Canada’s first intrepid rail vacationers.

Winter Resorts, Summer Getaways
The CPR however, was not the only one to establish resorts across the B.C.’s eastern region. Natural wonders such as mineral springs also inspired travel, which in the late 1800s and early 1900s could be arduous and long. Resorts such as Halcyon Hot Springs, spread beneath the spectacular Kootenays, and Ainsworth Hot Springs grew out of early, less elegant stops that served as magnets for the traveling public. Today many of B.C.’s hot spring resorts serve as year-round getaways. Guests can ski and snowboard during the winter and swim and hike in the summer. Hot springs such as those found in the tunnels of Ainsworth and the open pools at Fairmont Hot Springs attract guests throughout the year.

History also played a part in the development of other unique resorts in the Kootenays. The beginnings of St. Eugene Golf Resort and Casino, outside of Cranbrook, were less prestigious, but inspiring. A former residential school for First Nations children until the 1970s, it was later acquired and refurbished by the Ktunaxa Nation. Today, three First Nations bands run the all-in-one vacation resort. Guests can golf alongside the St. Mary’s River, take advantage of its spa facilities or enjoy its full casino, as well as ski, horseback ride and tour the nearby wineries. A non-profit interpretive centre provides information about the heritage and history of the Ktunaxa People.

The Rockies’ ski resorts offer another location for relaxation, and many host summer activities as well. Kimberley’s Trickle Creek Golf Resort, and Revelstoke Mountain Resort’s helicopter sightseeing tours and outdoor workshops are popular attractions for those in-between-ski and-snowboard seasons.

The resorts that populate the Rockies region are as diverse as the scenery that surrounds them. Whether you are interested in the history of its fascinating pioneer era, or the beauty and splendor of Banff, Jasper and other equally unusual resorts, the Canadian Rockies is worth the stay.

Photo credit: St. Eugene Golf Resort and Casino

Tags: cpr hotels, hot springs, kootenays, resorts, rockies, skiing

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