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“BIRS” 4 of 5 stars
Review of The Banff Centre

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The Banff Centre
107 Tunnel Mountain Drive, Banff, Banff National Park, Alberta T1L 1H5, Canada   |  
Hotel amenities
Calgary, Canada
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
28 hotel reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“BIRS”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 3, 2013

I stay at the Banff Centre a few times each year on average with some of the time at BIRS, which is the Banff International Research Station (a building at the Banff Centre dedicated for supporting mathematics-related research workshops). The building is comfortable, quiet and pleasant. There is a social room with games, beer, snacks, etc and is a nice place to drop by to meet up with other residents looking for company.

The bathrooms are modern. The internet connection is good but can be quite slow especially in the evening. Instead of a television in each room, a rather antiquated SUN work station is provided. These workstations were useful a decade ago but I doubt anyone uses them now that laptops, ipads etc are so ubiquitous.

Three meals a day are included in the all-expense-paid workshops and the food is buffet-style in the nearby Borden building. The food is high quality, fresh and well presented, but for me the vegan options are not so good. Sometimes there is good vegan food and sometimes I am relying on steamed vegetables and salads only. However, the chefs will prepare a meal for me if I say I can't find anything good for vegans and they are friendly about doing so. A few years ago food was properly labelled but the labelling is less comprehensive now.

Parking on site is free and easy to find. A short walk from BIRS down the hill and into town makes the location quite convenient plus it is also easy to walk up Tunnel mountain for a view. The location is within Banff National Park, which is one of the most beautiful, scenic and adventurous places in the world.

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled on business
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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JimOlver, Guest Relations Manager at The Banff Centre, responded to this review, March 4, 2014
Barry, thank you again for taking the time to "post" detailed comments about your time spent at The Banff Centre. I look forward to your next visit!
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44 people have reviewed this hotel

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (13)
Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
Revelstoke, Canada
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 24, 2013 via mobile

I have travelled to Banff several times but had never heard or stayed at the Center before. It was a little challenging to figure out where to go for check in, but once we found it, it was an easy check in. The place was very busy...I believe they had a convention there at the time. Kate-the lady who checked us in was very helpful and polite despite her seeming overwhelmed with the amount of people. Great job Kate! We stayed in Lloyd Hall which was nothing like we were expecting. Very much a dorm room style building. The room was surprising nice compared to the outdated hallways. It was very noisy, but we believe that was because of the convention going on. Lots of young kids.
The views and location of this place are fantastic. We are thinking about maybe having this place used for upcoming conferences we might have. Great distance to town and the path is lit the whole evening. The graveyard ads character to your walk.
We would stay here again for our next visit to Banff.

Stayed September 2013, traveled with friends
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver
Senior Contributor
29 reviews 29 reviews
18 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 22, 2013

I recently spent five nights in the Centre as a guest of one of the artists that share the grounds with the conference guests. I was staying in a new building and had a lovely room with a view of mountains and forest. The food was amazing and there is a choice of three places to eat ( big dinning room, smaller cafe and wine bar). The amenities like the pool and gym are first rate. It's a lovely place in a beautiful setting - only a few minutes from Banff but secluded from the hussle and bustle at the same time. I'd love to stay again.

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled solo
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 19, 2013

Had a professional conference to attend in September--did not know what expect but overwhelmed by the beauty, the multiople food options including sourcing of gluten free entrees and sides, and cleanliness of the entire site. Reception staff very helpful and went out of their way to assist. Rooms in the Professional Development Centre were well appointed and comparably priced to noisier hotel properties downtown. Watching the sunrise inching down the mountain sides is an amazing experience. Vista Dining Centre on the top floor of the Borden Bldg offered a 270 degree panorama of the Rockies.
The staff loves this place and it comes across with every encounter.

Easy 10 min. walk to town via Ken Marsden trail behind the Kinnear Centre. Short walk to Surprise Point view at the Bow River Falls and access to a multitude of other trails including Tunnel Mtn summit and the HooDoos.

Room Tip: While primarily catering to organized conferences, they accept individual reservations on space avai...
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  • Stayed September 2013, traveled on business
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Rome, Italy
Top Contributor
61 reviews 61 reviews
60 hotel reviews
Reviews in 54 cities Reviews in 54 cities
47 helpful votes 47 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 17, 2013

The Banff Centre is an excellent choice for conferences with very good conference facilities, but also offers good accommodation and other facilities, including breakfast and dining options. Service is good, professional and friendly.

I ended up staying in the Lloyd Hall, which offers very spacious, suite-type, of accommodation. It is not super luxurious but very comfortable. The only minus was that it felt a bit dusty in the Lloyd Hall in general and also in the room, probably due to carpets. The room could do with a bit more maintenance on for example the curtain holders, but overall the room was still in pretty good shape.

Breakfast and lunch at the Vistas Dining Room was good with a wide selection of good-quality food and drinks, including healthy options.

Wifi is free and a strong signal is present throughout the Banff Centre (which is how it should be in all hotels!).

And the best thing last: the location (just 10-15 minutes walk from Banff center) and views... magnifique!

Room Tip: Get a room on a higher floor for better views
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  • Stayed September 2013, traveled on business
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BanffCentre, Guest Relations Manager at The Banff Centre, responded to this review, October 3, 2013
Dear peri&rini,

Thank you very much for taking the time for specific feedback about your recent conference held at The Banff Centre. It is rewarding to hear comments about the great dining options, strong free WIFI throughout the property, and we agree that the views certainly are magnifique!

While we are very proud to hear your compliments, we are most appreciative of your suggestions for improvement. Your comments regarding housekeeping and facilities have been reviewed with our Executive Housekeeper and increased attention will be paid to these matters.

We look forward to your return.

Jim Olver
Director, Customer Service
The Banff Centre
jim_olver@banffcentre.ca
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
52 reviews 52 reviews
26 hotel reviews
Reviews in 31 cities Reviews in 31 cities
62 helpful votes 62 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 15, 2013

I stayed here three days for a conference. The Banff Centre complex is a series of separate buildings hugging the side of Tunnel Mountain, probably a mile or so outside the town centre.

I arrived with a colleague in the dark after a long flight from London and the 2hr drive up from Calgary. My colleague was booked in to the accommodation above reception in the Professional Development building. I found I was assigned a room in the Lloyd Hall building. I have never before been offered a hotel shuttle from reception to my room! Turned out a reasonable suggestion as Lloyd Hall is probably 100 yards up a steep service road, and too far to drag a suitcase after a full day's travelling.

Once inside my room on the 3rd floor everything was fine.
The accommodation was spacious, being a lounge, kitchen area (cooker and fridge), bedroom with large double bed, and bath/shower room. Plenty of storage in bedroom and corridor.Everything spotlessly clean. Coffee maker.
Another colleague, who was staying at the Fairmont Banff Springs, could not believe the size of my room compared to his, which was costing almost 3 times my (conference) rate!

One of my constant bugbears and potential mark downers is the provision of Wi-Fi.
Top marks here. Free Wi-Fi easily accessible right across the complex without password.

Exploration next morning reveals a maze of buildings which in daylight are easier to get to ,via walkways, than the site map suggests. No need for the shuttle again!

Breakfast (part of the package on one of the days) in the Vistas Dining Room was an excellent comprehensive buffet. Not sure what it would have cost but if I had been there on the other days I would have definitely spent my own dollar.

Did not use the main dining facilities however the Bistro Bar was a good, and the special buffet provided for delegates on the last evening was fine.
All of the bar/dining facilities have superb views out across the valley below to the mountains, and most have outside balconies with tables/chairs for when the weather allows ( we had three days of sun and mid twenties temperatures so made full use!).

Facilities
I did not use the gym or the pool, but my colleague did and had no adverse comments.

Getting about.
A taxi from the main shops in Banff Ave was circa CAD 10 with tip. Most cabs take you via the main road adjacent to Bow River and on to Tunnel Mountain Drive.
Walking in to Banff this way will probably take 30-45 minutes, probably much longer coming back due to the gradient, but there is an alternative.
A footpath from the west entrance of the Banff Centre drops down in to Town, taking me 15 minutes. It is called the Madsen Trail, and cuts down streets called Grizzly, Wolverine, Muskrat and Buffalo! Did not see any of those,only many charming residences. Walking back this way takes a bit longer as there are a couple of steeper bits with steps. I am no spring chicken but managed it by being sensible. If you get out of breath or have health issues, take the cab.
Perhaps the best option is walk down via the Trail, and cab back?

All of the staff were very friendly and helpful.
The two conferences I attended there went off without any hitches. If the Centre arranged the take out food for our coach field visit then hats off for this as well.

The Banff Centre was not really what I was expecting (although I was not sure what I was expecting!). I am so pleased I had the opportunity to stay here rather than one of the many ordinary hotels which line Banff Ave -which whilst I am sure are perfectly good choices just do not have the "wow" factor. This is not a venue I will forget.

Room Tip: The Professional Development Centre is probably more convenient, however the Lloyd Hall building is...
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  • Stayed September 2013, traveled on business
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BanffCentre, Office Manager & Marketing Officer at The Banff Centre, responded to this review, September 16, 2013
Thank you very much for your thoughtful and thorough review of The Banff Centre - you have provided some great tips for our future visitors. The Ken Madsen Path is a favourite of our staff as well for a quick walk downtown or as the starting point of a lunch hour circuit walk along the Bow River trail which heads back up Tunnel Mountain towards the Centre, and offers amazing views from Surprise Corner just above the Bow Falls. And here at the Centre, there are incredible views from many of our dining and meeting spaces - a few favourites being the Kinnear Centre including Maclab Bistro, as well as Vistas Dining Room and Three Ravens Restaurant located on the top floor of the Sally Borden Building. Our location is certainly a major motivation for organizations to choose to meet here. We hope that your travels may lead you back to Banff again.

Deborah Whittle
The Banff Centre
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Calgary
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
18 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 11, 2013

There aren't too many places with scenery as spectacular as the Canadian Rockies and Banff is the jewel in that crown. The Banff Center offers great conference / meeting facilities in a variety of configurations to suit most needs. The service is first class and the rooms are very roomy and well appointed. Food great and all in a magnificent location!!

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled on business
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BanffCentre, Office Manager & Marketing Officer at The Banff Centre, responded to this review, September 16, 2013
Thank you very much for your comments. We are pleased to hear that your conference experience at The Banff Centre was enjoyable. Our team really does strive to offer exceptional service and they will appreciate your feedback. And we are very proud of the quality food services produced by our culinary team. We hope that you will be able to meet here or stay here again.

Deborah Whittle
The Banff Centre
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Additional Information about The Banff Centre

Address: 107 Tunnel Mountain Drive, Banff, Banff National Park, Alberta T1L 1H5, Canada
Location: Canada > Alberta > Canadian Rockies > Banff National Park > Banff
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #11 of 20 Specialty lodging in Banff
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Banff Centre, a globally respected institute for advanced training in the arts and leadership, located in the vibrant mountain destination of Banff, Alberta in the Canadian Rockies, offers professional conference facilities and services for groups of up to 1,000 delegates. The Centre is a renowned site for Canadian and international business, government, research, scientific, and educational meetings. The Banff Centre’s inspirational setting and creative, educational environment provide the essential framework for productive learning and engagement. ... more   less 

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