Banff – Lake Louise: Stunning Beauty and Nature At Its Best in the Canadian Rockies

For the first time ever, my husband and I are going to go skiing in the majestic Rocky Mountains: in March of 2006 we are going to go to stay a week in Banff, Alberta and we are also going to explore Lake Louise, the turquoise jewel of the Canadian Rockies. As we have never been to this region, I have started to do some research and contacted the official visitor information website for the communities of Banff and Lake Louise in Banff National Park.

I had a chance to speak with Quintin Winks, Manager of Media Relations for
Banff Lake Louise Tourism, who was able to provide me with excellent background information about the Banff / Lake Louise Region.

1. Please provide us with some general information about Banff/Lake Louise. Where is it located, what is the weather like?

Banff is located within Banff National Park, in the Canadian Rockies of Western Alberta. The town of Banff is famous for its spectacular setting, but it is more than just a pretty place. As Canada’s first incorporated municipality in a national park, Banff is a very special community. It is environmentally-conscious, balanced, rich with character and culture and a friendly and open community. The elevation of Banff townsite is 1,383 m (4,537 feet), the highest town in Canada. The elevation of Lake Louise is 1,536 m (5,039 feet), the highest permanent settlement in Canada.

Summer (July – August):
The summer season usually has low humidity, warm temperatures and daylight hours lasting until 11:00 p.m. at the height of the summer equinox.

Autumn (Sept – Oct):
Fall sees diminishing daylight hours and warm days with cooling evening winds.

Winter (Nov – March):
Although it can and does snow at any time of the year, the first snows generally begin to fall in November. The average temperature during the winter months is around -12º C (6º F); however it is not unusual to have a two-week cold snap during December or January where temperatures plummet into the -30 degree C/F range. Fortunately Banff and areas west and south, regularly receive a welcome weather phenomenon called Chinooks, warm winds that produce spring-like temperatures in a matter of hours.

Spring (April – June):
Rain and warming temperatures begin to melt winter away from the valleys in April, however snow does not leave the mountain passes until mid-summer. While the average precipitation is relatively low during this time, snowmelt pushes the rivers to their crests.

2. How can one get to Banff/Lake Louise and what is the best way of getting around locally?

Situated in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, the town of Banff is located inside the boundaries of Banff National Park. It is situated 128 kilometres (80 miles) west of Calgary, 401 kilometres (250 miles) southwest of Edmonton and 850 kilometres (530 miles) east of Vancouver. Commercial airlines service each of these three Canadian cities, and buses to Banff and Lake Louise run year round.

Banff is easily accessed by bus or car using the Trans-Canada Highway. Calgary to Banff driving time is about 2 hours depending on traffic and road conditions. Speed limits inside the national park are 90km/hour.

The closest major airport is the Calgary International Airport. Scheduled van and motorcoach shuttle services connect Banff with Calgary Airport. Departures are limited (usually 3 or 4 per day).

3. What are some of the major sights in and around Banff/ Lake Louise?

Banff is famous first and foremost for its spectacular natural scenery, but also for its museums, national historic sites and heritage buildings.

Architectural and heritage guidelines ensure the town retains its mountain culture and charm. Banff also has three historic sites (Cave & Basin, Banff Park Museum and Bankhead) and numerous heritage buildings, one of the best performing art schools in the country (The Banff Centre), top-notch art galleries (The Walter Phillips Gallery and Canada House Gallery among others) and a world-renown museum specializing in the art and history of the Canadian Rockies (the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies).

Wildlife is also abundant within Banff National Park and many visitors return home with memorable photographs of species that make use of the park.

From bridge to biking, there is so much to do in the Banff area including airplane tours, barbecues, billiards, boat tours, bowling, dogsledding, downhill and cross-country skiing, fishing, golf, hiking, snowshoeing, nature tours, horseback riding, carriage and sleigh rides, mountaineering and climbing, hiking, hot springs and spas, museums and art galleries, gondolas, snocoach tours, sightseeing, whitewater rafting, kayaking and float trips.

4. Please tell us about the skiing opportunities in Banff/Lake Louise and other winter activities on offer in your area.

Three outstanding ski resorts, Ski [email protected], Sunshine Village and Lake Louise provide more than 7,700 acres and 240 trails offering countless options to skiers and snowboarders of any ability. From wide-open bowls and tree-lined glades covered with fresh dry champagne powder, to meticulous groomed slopes and state-of-the-art snowmaking, visitors enjoy unspoiled scenery, short lift lines, and guaranteed friendly local hospitality. The last major snowstorm through this area was less than one week ago and the snow conditions are powder, powder, powder. More snow is forecast in the coming days.

There are over 80km of cross-country trails within a short drive of the Banff townsite alone. The vast network of track-set and untracked trails, and telemark slopes throughout Banff National Park calls nordic skiers of all abilities. The Banff National Park Service keeps up to date trail conditions and weather forecasts.

Banff also offers guided snow-shoeing tours, ice walks, dog sledding and ice climbing, not to mention heli-skiing.

5. What about activities during the summer time?

Ride through a pine forest hearing only hoof beats, zoom down waterslides, or come face to face with a grizzly bear while exploring an interpretive museum. Banff Lake Louise offers something for everyone.

Enjoy the spectacular views from the Brewster Gondola, explore the Columbia Icefield from aboard the enormous snocoach, rent a bike and ride around the park or get up early and enjoy a bird walk in the spring. There’s also guided tours through Johnston Canyon, nature walks, a skateboard park and several fine patios for enjoying a cool refreshment after hours of exploration in the summer sun. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

6. Banff / Lake Louise’s history is connected to the expansion of railways across Canada. Please give us a brief historical overview of the area.
1883

The railway passes through the Banff area and reaches Laggan Station (Lake Louise). Three railway workers, Frank McCabe, Tom McCardell, and William McCardell, stake claim to the natural hot springs on the side of Sulphur Mountain.

- 1884: Lord Steven, a former CPR director, christens the area “Banff” after his birthplace, Banffshire, Scotland.

- 1885: The federal government sets aside a 26 km² reserve surrounding the hot springs discovered two years earlier. Two years later, that area is increased to 670 sq. km. The Canadian Pacific Railway Company and the federal government cooperate in promoting the area as an international resort and spa as a way to support the new railway and ease the financial pressures on Confederation.

- 1888: The Canadian Pacific Railway Company builds the area’s first large tourist accommodation, The Banff Springs Hotel.

- 1911: Automobile access to Banff is made possible by the construction of the Banff/Calgary Coach Road.

- 1917: The park’s area is increased to 7 125 km². The Canadian government passes the first National Parks Act.

- 1930: Rocky Mountains Park is renamed Banff National Park and its size becomes fixed at 6641 km².

- 1933: The Banff Centre for Continuing Education is founded.

- 1985: Banff, Jasper, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks along with four adjacent provincial parks are declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

- 1990: Through a joint agreement between the local citizens and the federal and provincial governments, the town of Banff becomes the only incorporated municipality within a Canadian national park.

7. Our readers would like to find out about the festivals and special events in Banff/Lake Louise.

Festivals and special events are many in Banff and Lake Louise. The most immediate two are Ice Magic and Winterfest. Ice Magic involves artists from all over the world converging on Lake Louise and carving 300 kilogram blocks of ice into spectacular sculptures (January 27-29). Winterfest is a series of fun activities. The most up-to-date information on all festivals and special events can be found at http://www.banfflakelouise.com/

8. What about restaurants and entertainment in Banff / Lake Louise?

With inventive panache, chefs relentlessly reach new culinary heights. Recipes change according to the seasons and make use of the freshest local ingredients. During the fall and winter, this means game, squash and legumes, while spring features asparagus and mushrooms and summer highlights edible flowers and fresh fruits.

The town has a wide variety of tourism-related businesses including over 118 restaurants with food to suit every palette. There’s Indian cuisine, sushi, Korean, Chinese, Western, Pasta, Thai, Greek and just about every other variation.

Banff is also home to The Banff Centre. This institution is host to many forms of entertainment, including art galleries and installations, theatre productions and concerts ranging in variety from string quartets, blues, jazz, ethnic and rock ‘n’ roll. There is something happening virtually every week of the year. Banff also has a cinema, bowling lanes, water slides and indoor pool and billiards hall. There’s an indoor rock-climbing wall, skating rink, tennis courts and myriad other things to do for entertainment regardless of the weather.

9. What are some of the shopping opportunities in Banff / Lake Louise?

Enjoy strolling alongside locals and world-travellers as you discover a cosmopolitan collection of galleries, boutiques and cafés. Shops range from internationally recognized clothiers or independently-owned establishments to Canada’s oldest department store.

10. What type of accommodations options are available in Banff / Lake Louise?

From five-star elegance to the cozy comfort of cabins or chalets, Banff Lake Louise has more than 100 hotels, motels, condominiums resorts, lodges and bed & breakfasts that will make you feel at home whatever your tastes.

11. What are some of the major events and big news stories coming up in 2006 and beyond in Banff/Lake Louise?

Banff looks poised to host a skins golf game this summer that will attract some of the biggest names in golf.

Also big in the news is the commencement of Banff Refreshing, a sidewalk expansion program and greening that will make downtown Banff much more pedestrian friendly and reduce the amount of traffic using the downtown core.

The first phase of the Trans-Canada Highway twinning project will also swing into high gear this summer, making transit through Banff National Park faster and safer than ever. Of note with this project are state-of-the-art wildlife crossing structures to keep animals off the highway.

Passing of a recent lighting bylaw means that Banff’s night sky will become more and more clear as time passes.

Thank you, Quintin, for your time to provide us with more information about the beautiful Banff/Lake Louise area. We look forward to exploring your area first-hand in March!

For further information about Banff/Lake Louise please contact:

Banff Lake Louise Tourism

P.O. Box 1298, Banff, Alberta, T1L 1B3, Canada

Phone:403-762-8421 Fax: 403-762-8163

Email: [email protected]

Web: http://www.BanffLakeLouise.com

Luxury Hotels in Buckinghamshire

In Buckinghamshire, The National Trust is known to possess around 1,000 acres of Chiltern beech woodland and rolling farmland. It has the most beautiful village of Bradenham. Aylesbusry can be regarded as the hub from where you can commence your exploration of Buckinghamshire. It is also the main market centre for the fertile Vale of Aylesbury.

Another beautiful place is the Waddeson Manor that has been constructed in the French pattern for Baron de Rothschild and comprises of treasures that include a sumptuous collection of Sevres porcelain.

Some of the best luxury hotels in Buckinghamshire have been listed below for your convenience:

Danesfield House Hotel and Spa is a luxury country house set in 65 acres of dazzling garden estate with panorama of the River Thames and neighbouring Chilterns. The most prominent highlights of this hotel include the award winning Oak Room Restaurant and the Orangery Brasserie.

The award winning luxurious Danesfield Spa proposes the ideal sanctuary to break away from the strain of contemporary living with 20 metre ozone cleansed swimming pool, rest lounges and therapy by ESPA, CARITA and Jessica. The supreme weekend haven, Danesfield House is situated among Marlow and Henley-on-Thames, only 45 minutes by car from Central London.

Hartwell House Hotel, Restaurant & Spa is a splendid, comfortable imperial home extended on ninety acres of landscaped parkland. The house has mutually Jacobean and Georgian characteristics with exceptional ornamental plaster-work and panelling, its fine graceful reception and dining rooms generate the atmosphere of a great country house. The bravura rooms are splendidly furnished with antiques and hung with bright paintings. With elevated ceilings and vision over the widespread countryside, it is simply a tranquil scene.

Taplow House hotel is located in 6 acres of gorgeous gardens on the boundary between Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. It is a serene sanctuary just 10 minutes from historic Windsor and 15 minutes from London Heathrow airport. Every bedroom and suite is independently planned to replicate the fashion of the house, depicting contemporary amenities to make your stay as comfy as probable. The award-winning Berry’s Restaurant brags a calm locale in an unperturbed and relaxing ambience. It is rather a supreme place for weddings, conferences or private celebrations.

Jordans, constructed by Quakers in 1919, is situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty and Spindrift was developed in 1933. Its fine-looking precincts are a sequence of linked secret gardens on diverse stages. The five star lodging is hospitable and airy. Close by are Windsor, Cliveden, Hughenden, Waddesdon, Ascot and Henley. Heathrow is positioned at 16 miles; London is 30 It is situated near to Aylesbury town centre. There are abundant restaurants, theatres and sports conveniences close at hand.

A Vacation Guide to St Barts Islands and Hotels

Location

Being a part of the French West Indies, St. Barts is located in the north of the Lesser Antilles near St. Kitts/Nevis and St. Martin/Maarten. Being located at 17.55 North and 62.50 West, this island is basking along the water on the way from Paris to New York.

It is a small island with a size of only 8 square miles. The name of its capital city is Gustavia. The main language is French along with some English spoken people.

Being a volcanic island, its rocky surface is inappropriate for agriculture. However, its craggy coastline fringed with radiant sand makes it one of the hottest tourist destinations. It has a parched tropical maritime weather with hurricane threats from July to November.

Culture and History

St. Barts has a history of being ruled by Carib Indians and then by European colonial powers. The history has a touch of Swedish heritage too, as this island was a Swedish outpost during the 18th century. However, apart from the name of the capital city Gustavia, only a few Swedish remainders can be found today. In reality, the island is heavily influenced by French style. Here, the humble locals and the monied tourists are amalgamated in a chic but discreet setting.

Attractions

St. Barts does not offer superficially attractive visual images. In fact, you have to taste it in order to explore the true attractions of this place. However, it is not totally devoid of sightseeing. You can visit historic sites in Gustavia including the Fort Gustav and the Wall House Museum. In order to have a glimpse of the traditional Norman culture, you can take a visit to the fishing village of Corossol. The Inter Oceans Museum, which has a huge collection of seashell, is also worth seeing. Apart from that, St. Barts offers a number of water activities that you can enjoy at any time of the year.

Beaches

It will not be an exaggeration if you call St. Barts an island of beaches. More than 20 beaches are lying in this small area. Each beach has its own attractions. So, you can choose to visit one or a few according to your mood and purpose. Here, you will have bustling beaches like Grand Cul de Sac and St. Jean; private beaches like Gouvernier, Grand Saline, and Flamands; truly secluded beaches like Anse Colombier; nudity-allowed beaches like Grand Saline and Anse du Gouverneur; and family friendly beaches like Marechal and Shell Beach.

Nudity-allowed, topless, and clothing-optional beaches are favorite tourist spots. Topless sunbathing is allowed even in family friendly beaches. However, public nudity is not allowed on the island.

Events and Festivals

In St. Barts, a few Swedish holidays along with a number of French ones are observed locally. The locals have an inclination for music, films, and sports. The annual music festivals are held in January and August and the Caribbean Film Festival is celebrated in April. The St. Barts Volleyball Cup Tournament in July also draws huge crowds. Apart from these events, Mardi Gras or costume parade in February, Book Festival in March, Voiles de St. Barts or yacht racing in April, West Indies Regatta or the Caribbean sailing festival in May, Feast of the Community in July, Sainte Barbe or grand parade in December, etc. are a few among other important festivals and events.

Sports

St. Barts offers a range of sports activities for both the tourists and the locals. You can enjoy hiking, tennis, volleyball, etc. along with participating in training of archery and martial arts. It is also a fertile ground for enjoying water activities. In fact, a St. Barts trip cannot be imagined without enjoying a range of water sports like snorkeling, jet ski, diving, sailing, bottom boat, kite surfing, and surfing. It is also a good place for big game fishing lovers.

Hotels and Resorts

The hotels in St Barts are mainly independently owned that are built on small properties with dozen rooms or more. In fact, the largest hotel of this island has not more than 76 rooms. However, St. Barts offers a special opportunity that none other Caribbean Island does. You can rent a private villa here apart from booking a hotel room. However, keep in mind that there is no bargain on the rates, which can be ranged from modest to stratospheric.

Some resorts offer a range of finest spa services of the world. Professional beauticians lead these spa parlors. So, you can expect nothing but exclusive spas from them.

Restaurants

As a true bridgehead of French cuisine in the tropic, St. Barts offers an array of upscale French and Creole restaurants to its residents and visitors. Apart from seductive French style and casual Caribbean, simple culinary traditions are also prevalent here. St. Barts is actually a destination for good food lovers where they can go anywhere from small family restaurants to great gourmet ones. You can taste a number of different foods ranging from traditional cuisine made of vegetables and fish to fusion cuisine prepared by blend of different cooking styles around the world. The regular dish of local people is roasted or fried pancake that is taken with fruits, vegetables, and fish found on the island.

It has some reservations-only restaurants too mainly for the celebrities who want to avoid cameras. Local markets and shops are also popular, as a number of people prefer living in rented villas and either cook themselves or employ cooking staff.

Nightlife

St. Barts is not popular for holding party events. However, some hotspots are there where young and rich people can spend fun time. The capital Gustavia has the famous Le Select bar in which Jimmy Buffet got the inspiration of his song ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’. Gustavia has a number of discos too including Le Petit Club, Le Feeling, Yacht Club, and Casa Nicky. However, to most people, a St. Barts nightlife means taking a late night dinner before returning to their private villa.

St. Barts is ideal for an excursion, an island trip, or a cruise at sunset. It has its own charm and personality with pure arcs of white sand fringed by turquoise warm water and rich marine life sheltered by coral beaches and seagrass beds.