When I was planning my most recent foray into the beautiful wilds of Alberta with Travel Alberta, I knew that Jasper National Park had to be on the list. I hadn’t been there yet and the photos I had seen made every travel instinct in my body tingle with anticipation. As a luxury traveler though, I also knew there was really only one option for me when I visited this natural wonderland – the iconic Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge.
Of course it’s safe to call most Fairmont properties iconic – that is after all their strength. Whether it’s the most photographed hotel in the world, the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, or the mountain charm of the Fairmont Banff Springs, these just aren’t nice luxury hotels; they’re an important part of the history of Canada itself. It was knowing all of this that I drove up the road to the beautiful Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, hidden in plain sight in the middle of Jasper National Park.
Not Your Standard Accommodations
While the hotel officially started business 100 years ago in 1915, it wasn’t until the 1920s when actual solid cabins and buildings were added, creating the nucleus of the luxury resort of today. That’s perhaps what surprised me most as I walked to my cabin – the fact that I was walking to a cabin. There are a variety of room options around the Jasper Park Lodge, but I was lucky enough to find myself in one of the hotel’s iconic cabins by mirror-like Lake Beauvert. The cabins are a nod to the Lodge’s early beginnings and have become an important fixture at the resort. There are a wide variety of cabin options, from ultra-deluxe to more basic varieties with everything you’d expect in a Fairmont room – comfortable beds, well appointed bathrooms and more than enough room to rest and relax. That’s exactly what I found myself doing almost immediately as I enjoyed a great spot just a few steps from the lake that serves as the focal point for the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge.
Community, Food and Activities
Staying at the Jasper Park Lodge though is about much more than your room of course; it’s about being in one of the most beautiful national parks in the world and enjoying this experience with other like-minded travelers. That’s why I loved the main lodge itself, the center of activity at the resort. Inside is a large and spacious main room with plenty of space to relax, read a book, check email and of course there’s a bar and casual restaurant to enjoy the Jasper Park Lodge’s famous food offerings. That’s actually where I found myself the first night of my stay; too tired to avail myself of one of the complimentary shuttles into Jasper village, I decided to eat at the lodge itself. Turns out that was a great choice and I soon found myself enjoying a great meal that I wouldn’t necessarily associate with any hotel’s front lobby restaurant, no matter how good they are. A bison burger with homemade potato chips with a chocolate caramel cake for dessert set the tone for my stay at the Lodge. Relaxed refinement in a natural setting that just can’t be beat.
Many guests at the Jasper Park Lodge are active travelers, otherwise they wouldn’t be in Jasper in the first place. While there are many great activities off-property, which I’ll get to in a second, there are also a whole host of fun things to do at the Lodge itself. The most famous has to be a canoe or kayak ride around Lac Beauvert itself. This is the lake you see in all of the postcards and images from the Jasper Park Lodge and from experience I can tell you that it’s just as picturesque in person as it is in all of those travel magazines. There’s a lot more to do than just paddling of course, from horseback riding and hiking to enjoying the outdoor heated pool, there’s no way you can be bored at the Lodge.
You’re in Jasper National Park!
As nice as that heated pool is though, guests travel to Jasper to be in Jasper. In all honesty, Jasper National Park is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited, and it may even be THE most beautiful place I’ve been fortunate enough to visit. Driving into the park the beauty makes itself known almost immediately and I found myself wanting to stop every few miles to get out and just appreciate what it feels like to walk through a real life L.L. Bean ad. The park is huge of course and I’ll devote a few posts to just detailing the many activities, but I also wanted to highlight here a few of the experiences in the park that are easily accessible from the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge itself.
The Lodge is just a couple of miles from Jasper village, the main (and I think only) hub of activity in the park and where you’ll find plenty of shops, restaurants, cafes and bars. Everyone passes through here at some point or other and it’s a great mountain town not unlike many others in Canada. An easy drive from the Lodge is another iconic site – Maligne Lake. There you can join an easy 90-minute cruise out to Spirit Island, THE classic photo of the Canadian Rockies that’s known around the world. Also close by the Lodge are several great hiking areas, lakes, lookout points and any number of other natural experiences. Jasper National Park is simply an amazing place and the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is perfectly situated to allow guests the opportunity to enjoy as much of it as they want.
By this point you’re probably guessing that I enjoyed my experience at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, and you’d be correct. Sure, it’s a luxury resort but it’s unlike others I’ve been to. It has perfectly adapted to the natural environment and even the spirit of the region itself. You’ll find stellar service, but no pretention or unwelcoming stuffy rooms. If homey luxury is a term, then it’s one I would apply to the Jasper Park Lodge in the very best meaning of the phrase. It’s a destination where every need will be seen to, but in a comfortable and infinitely approachable way. There’s nothing better in my book.