Banff Springs Spa 2

All photos courtesy of Fairmont.

When we think divas of cinema, our minds reel back to Bette Davis, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo. When we think divas of snow it’s a whole different show. Images flash of those grand old ski hotels in the Rockies built a century ago — the splendid creations of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Canada’s three sisters — Banff Springs Hotel, Jasper Park Lodge and Chateau Lake Louise, all Fairmont hotels — are our divas of SNOW.

Banff Springs Hotel
Banff, Alberta

Blame William Cornelius Van Horne, a captain of industry when such titles were in place, and GM of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). One hundred and twenty-five years ago, Cornelius was convinced Banff National Park had tourism potential, planning a line of lavish hotels along the CPR track as it snuck through the Rockies. Banff Springs Hotel ( was Cornelius’s crown. The Springs is a tome of good taste, housing galleries and lounges, a European-style Willow Stream Spa, a pub, a club, and a castle-like grandness that’s outdone in beauty only by the surrounding mountains. The skiing? Sunshine Village, Norquay and Lake Louise are all within hunting-and-shooting distance.

Chateau Lake Louise
Lake Louise, Alberta

One cannot admire Banff Springs Hotel without taking a mo to moon over its little sister, Chateau Lake Louise ( Located in deep wilderness, 45 minutes west of Banff, Alberta on the shore of pretty Lake Louise, this French chateau-style hotel was built by the hearty folk of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1890. Today as a Fairmont, it’s a font of excellent taste, serving tea at three, fires roaring in the grates, fantastic views of a glacial, turquoise lake and the diamond-cut Rockies. Nearby, Lake Louise Ski Area is open in winter for skiing, summer for hiking. To earn your old English tea and scones, venture forth on one of the Chateau’s hearty round-the-lake hikes; keep a watchful eye on the scalers of ice and rock… this is, afterall, Canada’s cradle of mountain climbing.

Jasper Park Lodge
Jasper, Alberta

Jasper Park Lodge ( extends a grand greeting to its guests via a sweeping entranceway, multiple flags a’ flying. Its Great Hall throws one back to nostalgic ski lodge days, with wood and stone, cracking fires and leather couches in which you could lose consciousness. Once checked in, you’re driven — yes, driven — to your room, a five-star “cabin in the woods” on the bank of a snowy river. There’ll be big-horned animals the size of Secretariat all around. They’re elk, and there are a gazillion in Jasper National Park. Pass your days dozing by the pool, mountains all around. Ski Marmot Basin. Or snatch some slow-made sushi from Oka, the best little sushi house in Alberta.