We just returned from our 6th family Xmas at the Banff Springs Hotel. I also spent at least 6 other Xmas there as a child with my father and brother. My wife and I were married at the Springs during the Xmas of 2009. Both my wife and I are president's club members and stay at Fairmont hotels whenever and wherever we can afford to. It seems that all that means very little to the Fairmont chain. This is not to say that our whole trip was horrible but it certainly started off that way. For the first time we had a bad experience at our beloved castle in the Rockies. We arrived on the day of our anniversary. The room wasn't ready. I had made calls earlier explaining the special nature of our day. We'd also called ahead to see about special dining arrangements for our anniversary dinner to the food and beverage manager which were never returned. Now this is very small potatoes I know. But we've put alot of money into this place over the years. We have high expectations. When the room finally became available we were assured it was the room we booked. It was not. It was the single worst room we've ever had. Steer clear of 1821 at all costs. We have children and always book a room with a separate bed area so we don't have to go down at 7:30 with the kids. I know on the website it says they can't be held responsible for rooms with slight variations, it is after all a large hotel and it's old. The rooms vary. I get it. This was unacceptable by any standards. That they would categorize this with what we'd reserved is completely ridiculous. What we paid for was a very different room indeed. Its important to note that my wife and I are not in the habit of trying to get freebies or upgrades but we expect to get what we pay for. So when I confronted the manager, who was to his credit agreeable, he said the room we booked wouldn't be available for another 3 days. Our loyalty to this place was of no consequence. We tried our best to make do. That night we ended up having an absolutely wonderful dinner in the Banffshire dining room. Recommend that for sure. Then we went back to the room because the baby sitter we hired was calling about the kids. When we got back to the room there was obviously something wrong. The room smelled very strongly of raw sewage. It was disgusting. It was late and we were tired and the kids were sleeping so we didn't make a fuss. In the morning it was much much worse. Our youngest starting throwing up. Not what we were hoping for. Again we talked to the manager, same guy, he showed concern and moved us across the hall for the morning and promised our originally booked room later that day. Which we got and it was exactly the room we'd been promised. That first night should have been taken off the bill. Any 2 star roadside motel would have compted us the night in the sewer room. Not the Springs. Rough start. I am happy to say from that moment on it was winter heaven. The staff was incredible, especially the wait staff in the Rundle Lounge. The pool wonderful as always, the spa amazing, we both had massages. We tried the Waldhaus pub for the very fist time and liked it so much we had our Xmas dinner there. Best, or really, the only cheese fondu I've had in 30 years, so good went back 2 more times. Night skating outside with my son. Bowling with my whole family. The Santa send off was great though a bit more rehearsal would have served them well. The only poorly run Xmas event in our opinion was the manager meet and greet. Like I said I've been to more than my share of them. Usually they are fun and festive way to start off the season. This one was basically a room full of managers from every department standing around like foot soldiers each with a stack of business cards I'm sure they'd been ordered to hand out. One of the managers, the one in charge of children's events approached us and when I told him about how great the event used to be 30 years ago he ignored me, didn't want to hear a thing, just moved on to the next victim to hand off another business card.
All things being equal I can't help but recommend this place for Xmas. It's one of a kind. Just be very careful about what room you reserve and don't expect anything in the way of appreciation from the hotel. Even a little card or bottle of wine saying, "Happy Anniversary" or "Sorry about the raw sewage" would have been something. Oh well. We'll be back and next time we'll see what happens.
Hope this helps.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located in the heart of Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the world famous Fairmont Banff Springs resort stands as a landmark in the picturesque alpine town of Banff. This year round luxury resort is styled after a Scottish baronial castle and offers guests spectacular mountain and valley views, a championship golf course during the summer, unparalleled skiing in the winter, and an award-winning European-style spa, the Willow Steam Spa. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel Banff
- Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
- The Fairmont Banff Springs Banff
- Fairmont Banff Hotel
- Fairmont Hotel Banff
- Banff Fairmont