Established as Canada’s first national park in 1885, Banff spans 2,564 square miles along the Rocky Mountains in the province of Alberta. This magnificent enclave is perhaps one of few places in the world that lives up to its alluring photos. Winter calls for a wonderland with blankets of powder and frost-tipped trees while warmer months offer milder climates, lush landscapes, and remnants of snow-capped peaks. Home to 994 miles of maintained trails for hiking, more than 118 miles for cycling, and three world-class ski resorts, there’s no doubt that it’s prime for adventure. As a result, it naturally serves as an ideal destination for those who also want to restore the mind and soul. Here, a guide to the perfect wellness getaway in Banff National Park.
Likely your first stop in the national park, the resort town of Banff offers a busy downtown with dozens of shops, restaurants, and bars. But you’re certainly here to enjoy the outdoors and there are several trails to take advantage of. For shorter hikes, the Tunnel Mountain trail and Bow River Loop are great options while those who want something longer can opt for Sundance Canyon, Hoodoos, and Spray River Loop. If you prefer to be on wheels, biking down to Bow Falls is a popular choice as is the Banff Legacy Trail, a 16.7-mile ride that leads to Canmore. To relax those tired muscles, Banff Upper Hot Springs is the highest operating hot springs in Canada that’s open to the public and offers beautiful vistas of Spray River Valley and Mount Rundle. Lake Minnewanka is also just a short drive away should you want to take a dip, go canoeing, tackle some fishing, or go for a stroll along the shore.
While there are several lodging options to choose from, it goes without saying that the Canada-born Fairmont is a superb choice and there’s a property right on the edge of town. One of the company’s most prized properties in their portfolio, the Fairmont Banff Springs is the most luxurious option in Banff. Occupying a 19th-century castle at the base of Mount Rundle, the sprawling resort offers a whopping 745 modern accommodations and more than a dozen food and beverage options that include private meals in the Grapes Cellar or a 360-degree dome, afternoon tea, a speakeasy, and a bowling alley complete with a bar and bites. On the wellness front, the 40,000-square-foot spa boasts an indoor mineral pool, three waterfall treatment whirlpools set to different temperatures, an outdoor jacuzzi, eucalyptus-scented saunas, steam rooms, and plenty of treatments to choose from. They also have a team of expert guides who are more than happy to take you on any of the aforementioned adventures as well as other tailored offerings like forest bathing, a mindfulness practice from Japan that encourages participants to connect with nature in a deeper way.
Arguably the national park’s most iconic bodies of water, this glacier-fed lake is known for its striking turquoise-hued water and is filled with kayakers in the warmer months. Once winter sets in it completely freezes over, offering visitors the opportunity to walk, cross-country ski, and even ice skate on it, courtesy of Fairmont Château Lake Louise’s rink. The resort is not only the most luxurious option in the area, it’s also the only one situated along the lake’s shores. The property has 539 accommodations; seven restaurants and bars, with standouts being Fairview Bar & Restaurant for expertly crafted cocktails and Walliser Stube for cheese fondue; a spa with numerous facilities; and a complimentary shuttle service to the nearby Lake Louise Ski Resort. But where it really excels is its vast programming that can be tailored to your desire and needs.
With an expert team that’s extremely passionate about what they do, guests will be in good hands when opting for an experience with any one of the resort’s guides. Whether it’s hiking Plain of Six Glaciers with a stop at a historic tea house, cycling the Icefields Parkway, or snowshoeing in the hills, they’ve got you covered. The property also offers several complimentary indoor and outdoor fitness classes that include jogs along the lake, sunset yoga classes, and stretch and roll sessions to help muscles recover faster. And if you’re in search of an all-day schedule for just you and your family or friends, they can also arrange a private set-up that includes activities that include morning yoga, painting, mindful walks, group discussions, and plant-based meals for a mini wellness retreat.
Before or After Banff National Park
Set atop 13 acres of rolling foothills just outside of Banff National Park and about an hour away from Calgary International Airport, Azuridge Estate Hotel is an ideal stop for pre- or post-trip relaxation. The luxurious property is home to Flourish — the Liv Well Spa, an exceptional oasis with an ethos that’s embedded in energy and crystals. Each treatment kicks off with a selection of three stones that speak to the guest, which are then incorporated in the massage or facial, resulting in benefits to the physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. The space also boasts a relaxation lounge with an open-plan kitchen where healthful meals can be prepared in addition to a loft that’s outfitted for meditation and yoga.