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Banff Alberta Travel Guide + Win an All Expense Paid EPIC trip with Marriott Canada

Banff Alberta Travel Guide + Win an All Expense Paid EPIC trip with Marriott Canada

With Canada’s big 150th birthday this year everyone is taking the time to celebrate, and rightfully so! While Canada’s birthday has technically already come and gone on July 1st everyone is still celebrating this massive milestone for the rest of the year and I for one am certainly not complaining. I mean, it’s not everyday the country I proudly call home turns 150. I’m personally thinking I should also adopt year-long celebrations for my own milestone birthdays. Marriott Canada definitely knows how to celebrate a birthday and if you checked out my  previous post on Regina, Saskatchewan then you’ll know that Marriott is going all out by giving away 5 all expenses paid luxury adventure trips for 2. Read on to find out what I did on my epic luxury trip to Banff, Alberta and how you can with your own luxury trip for two with Marriott Canada:

Where to Stay

Calgary Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel

Since I had a late flight coming into Alberta which landed in Calgary I stayed at the Calgary Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel for one evening when I arrived before making the 2 hour drive to Banff the following morning . I also stayed for a second evening before I returned home to Toronto as I had an early morning flight going out. It was my first time staying at an Airport Hotel so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but I ended up being very pleasantly surprised.

The hotel and the room I stayed in is both modern and spacious. Various types of rooms are available some with views of Calgary skyline and others with views of the Calgary Airport Landing Strip.  I stayed on the 7th floor which had views of the landing strip and was also conveniently located on the same floor as their M Club Lounge.

Calgary Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel: Room Suite
Calgary Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel: Room Suite

The room was even outfitted with a telescope so that you could take in the views of Calgary from your room and the twinkling stars at night!

Calgary Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel: Telescope
Calgary Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel: Telescope

I have to say when I arrived on both days the welcome gift was definitely a huge win for me, especially after long days of travelling. On both days they were filled with in-house made treats like sesame cheese churros, beef jerky, spiced cashews, infused water, kombucha, chocolates & truffles, granola bars as well as goodies made from local artisans like root beer and skillfully crafted chocolates shaped like cowboy boots and artist paint palettes. It’s always the little details that make the difference during your stay at any hotel and it speaks volumes about the type of place you’re staying at.

Calgary Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel: Welcome Gifts
Calgary Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel: Welcome Gifts
Calgary Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel: Welcome Gifts, Sweets
Calgary Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel: Welcome Gifts, Sweets

Access to M Club lounge is available to those staying on the 7th floor (or for a small upgrade fee). Open 24 hours through key card access this lounge has breathtaking views of the airport landing strip as well as the Calgary skyline. In addition there are always refreshments and snacks on hand as well as breakfast, lunch, hors d’oeuvres, and dinner service available. Everything is complimentary, including beverages (tea, coffee, sparking water, beer, and wine)  once you have access to M Club which is not only super convenient but super delicious! It also makes things easy for those travelling on the go who don’t necessarily want to venture outdoors but still want to have a comfortable and tasty meal. It certainly came in handy when I had to wake up at 4am and needed a coffee and some treats before heading out for my very early morning flight. I must admit that I also snagged some extra cookies and treats from the candy bar before I left for the flight home.

Calgary Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel: Club M Lounge
Calgary Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel: M Club Lounge

In addition I dined at their in-house restaurant Yakima Social Kitchen + Bar. Typically I am not a steak person but Alberta being famous for their beef I had to try at least one. I’m glad I did because the one at Yakima Social Kitchen + Bar was not only cooked to perfection but was one of the juiciest and most tender steaks I’ve ever had. I suppose that’s why Alberta is famous for their beef and Yakima Social Kitchen + Bar certainly did it justice. I might even be a steak lover if I lived in this province. It was served with a truffle Yukon mousseline and roasted seasonal vegetables, both which shone just as brightly as the steak did. I topped everything off with some crispy fries and their Elderflower Twisted Greyhound Cocktail (Gin, freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, and elderflower liqueur) and it was pretty much the perfect way to end my visit to Alberta.

Calgary Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel: Yakima Social Kitchen + Bar
Calgary Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel: Yakima Social Kitchen + Bar

Being an in-airport hotel it’s safe to say that majority of people that pass through these doors tends to be travelers looking for a reprieve in between extensive layover stops. Keeping this in mind a hotel of this nature needs to encapsulate everything to make a guest’s stay comfortable, entertaining, and efficient as the people who stay here do not necessarily have the time to enjoy Calgary beyond the walls of this hotel. That being said it is still conveniently located just a short 20 minute drive away should you wish to venture to downtown making it the perfect spot if you want to enjoy a taste of Calgary. In fact, even if you were spending an extended time in this city it would still be a prime spot to stay given it’s proximity to both downtown and the airport. I even found myself thinking on several occasions that I would even stay here as a staycation should I actually lived in Calgary.

 

Delta Hotels by Marriott Banff Royal Canadian Lodge

The next morning after my arrival I made the two hour shuttle drive down to my hotel in Banff – the Detal Hotel by Marriott Banff Royal Canadian Lodge. Set amongst the picturesque city of Banff this hotel fits into it’s stunning surroundings while still managing to stand out with it’s strong Canadian theme and roots. Warm rich woods, plush carpeting, and spacious interior give this space the ultimate luxury cottage feel that is set amongst the mountains. With it’s modern day cottage feel it also comes fully equipped with a fitness centre, indoor whirlpool, spa, and event/meeting spaces. Complimentary wifi is also included – a must for any traveller who might find that reception in the mountains can be a little on the spotty side.

 

Delta Hotels by Marriott Banff Royal Canadian Lodge: Evergreen Restaurant and Lounge: Junior Room Suite
Delta Hotels by Marriott Banff Royal Canadian Lodge:  Junior Room Suite
Delta Hotels by Marriott Banff Royal Canadian Lodge: Evergreen Restaurant and Lounge: Junior Room Suite Seating Area
Delta Hotels by Marriott Banff Royal Canadian Lodge:  Junior Room Suite Seating Area

Dining options here include the Evergreen Bar and Lounge with the dining area featuring fine dining options and the Lounge and Bar featuring in-house comfort classics tapa style.

I checked out the dining area where they had a special menu available for Canada’s 150th. The menu itself is also fiercely local with ingredients being sourced from local producers. Everything was Expertly cooked and definitely tasted fresh and local. More importantly it was just downright tasty.

While the special Canada Day 150th menu is only available for the month of July and August of this year I’m told they feature a rotating specials  menu regularly and that the prime rib, a staple dish here, is a local favorite.

Delta Hotels by Marriott Banff Royal Canadian Lodge: Evergreen Restaurant and Lounge
Delta Hotels by Marriott Banff Royal Canadian Lodge: Evergreen Restaurant and Lounge

The best part about this hotel though is it’s location. Just a short 10 minute walk from the main city area of Banff it is easy to take in local restaurants, coffee shops, and sites. All of the main shuttle service providers as well as the public transportation routes have a stop directly at this hotel as well which makes it easy to get to all of Banff’s hottest attractions inexpensively and efficiently.

What to Do and See

Helicopter Tour

Taking a helicopter was definitely a highlight of my visit here and I can’t think of a more beautiful area than Banff to have taken my first helicopter ride. I did my tour with Rockies Heli Canada where I took a twenty minute ride across Banff National Park and all the Great Lakes, mountains, and landscape this part of Canada is legendary for. It’s absolutely worth it to take this tour as you get an unique bird’s eye view of some of the most beautiful spots in Canada.

 

Banff, Alberta: Helicopter Tour
Banff, Alberta: Helicopter Tour

Lake Louise

Arguably one of the most beautiful places in all of Canada this famous lake emerald coloured lake with mountains and Victoria Glacier as it’s surroundings is understandably one of the most popular sites in Banff.

I woke up at 3:30 in the morning and made the 40 minute drive from my hotel to visit this spot during sunrise. I naiively thought I would have this stunner to myself only to discover about 50 other people already there and snapping photos when I arrived at around 4AM. It’s every bit as gorgeous as people say it is and then some and no photo, no matter how talented the photographer, can truly capture the quiet beauty of Louise. You really have to just see it for yourself in person.

Banff, Alberta: Lake Louise
Banff, Alberta: Lake Louise

Banff Gondola

Take the Banff Gondola up to the top of Sulfur mountain where you’ll be treated to unparalleled views of Banff. Once you reach the top the newly re-built exploratory centre which has fine dining, interactive exhibits, and an observation deck that offers panoramic views of Banff.

Banff, Alberta: Gondola Banff
Banff, Alberta: Gondola Banff

Lake Minnetonka Boat Cruise

While Louise might be the most famous lake in Banff, Lake Minnetonka is the largest and if you ask me has waters that are just as gorgeous as Louise but without the large crowds. I took a one hour boat cruise where I got to get up close and personal with with beauty. The guide knowledgeable and entertaining giving some great history of the area as well as pointing out wildlife that inhabit this locale as the boat cruised along the lake and various shorelines.

 

Banff, Alberta: Lake Minnewanka Boat Cruise
Banff, Alberta: Lake Minnewanka Boat Cruise

Where to Eat and Shop

After a long day of hiking and exploring Banff you’ll no doubt have an appetite as large as the wildlife you may have been lucky to spot while here. Here were some of my favorite local places to fuel up in Banff:

Whitebark Café

Stop off at this café which serves local teas from Banff Tea Co and espresso based beverages from Mojo Coffee, a local Canadian Roaster in North Vancouver. Pastries, breads, and light breakfast options sourced from local suppliers are also on hand. My personal pick was the roasted vegetable focaccia which was warmed up and drizzled with some balsamic vinegar dressing.

Banff, Alberta: Whitebark Café
Banff, Alberta: Whitebark Café

Wild Flour Artisan Bakery

Wild Flour Artisan Bakery is a local institution in Banff. Since the 1800s they have been baking organic artisan breads and pastries. In addition they serve up sweet treats all of which use local ingredients and are baked on-site daily. Breakfast and light lunch options like paninis and soups are available as well as perfectly poured espresso beverages. I tried out a cappuccino and a mango cheesecake both of which were creamy, smooth, and delicious.

 

Banff, Alberta: Wildflour Artisan Bakery
Banff, Alberta: Wildflour Artisan Bakery

Downtown Banff

Downtown Banff is bustling with local shops and restaurants all with mountain view backdrops. If you’re lucky enough to visit on a Wednesday be sure to stop by the local Farmer’s Market. In addition to local fruits and produce you’ll also find hand-crafted goods from local artisans showcasing and selling their goods. Everything from handmade jewlery, prints, clothing, artwork, and home decor are available. I could not resist taking home some of these hand made rose quartz and selenite crystal vases which had succulents planted in them. Unfortunately the owner didn’t have any vases without succulents in them so I had to hand-carry these home on the airplane but it was well worth it to have such a beautiful and local-made piece to remind me of my visit here in Banff.

Banff, Alberta: Farmer's Market
Banff, Alberta: Farmer’s Market Kootana Crystals Handmade Vase

How to Win an All-Expense Paid Epic Luxury Adventure for Two with Marriott Canada 

And as Canada’s birth month winds down you have one last chance to win your own epic luxury adventure for two with Marriott Canada! With five of these trips up for grabs you have a pretty good shot of winning your own luxury adventure. And if you want to explore Banff I can accompany you and be your tour guide since I’ve been already…ha!

What’s Included:

  • There are a total of five epic adventure trips up for grabs
  • Each of the five winners will receive a trip for two including one hotel room, flights for the winner and one guest, and $1000 CAD spending money
  • Each trip will include at least one activity/experience
  • Winners have up to one year to redeem their trip based on availability and blackout dates

How to Enter:

  • Contest runs from June 22, 2017-July 20, 2017
  • To enter the contest check out  MarriottCanada150.dja.com and SPGCanada150.dja.com
  • Winners have up to one year to redeem their trip based on availability and blackout dates
  • Contest open to residents of Canada and the United States and winners will be chosen by Marriott and selected by a random third party
  • When entering the contest sweepstakes applicants will select which trip they hope to win from a gallery of options provided
  • Winners will be determined on July 24, 2017 and once contacted they have two days to return paperwork.

 

 

Disclaimer: This post was done in collaboration with Marriot Hotels Canada. All opinions expressed are my own. All offerings and prices are accurate as of time of posting. Please refer to restaurant/shop for most up to date information.

*All images are copyrighted Allons.Y Styling & Photography. Please do not use or re-post without written consent and provide credit where applicable

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