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Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is the finest hotel in UNESCO World Heritage Site Jasper National Park in Alberta, and it just got finer thanks for a multi-million dollar renovation.
The lodge sits in 700 acres of woods and parkland on the shores Lac Beauvert, and incorporates the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge golf course - recently voted Canada's best.
As for the accommodation, it consists of understatedly elegant rooms and suites in the main building - many of which have terraces of balconies overlooking the lake - as well as several log cabins (some dating back to the 1920s) reached along paths through the trees. For families, groups of friends and anyone wanting the most high spec cabin accommodation, the Luxury Signature Cabins are the answer, ranging from the eight-bedroomed Milligan Manor to the one-bedroom Athabasca Cottage, ideal for honeymooners.
Newlyweds or otherwise, this being the Canadian Rockies, you're more than likely here to see and interact with the spectacular mountain and lake scenery surrounding the lodge. In winter, the hotel is a perfect launch pad for skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing, while summer is all about hiking and biking, kayaking, riding and, of course, golf.
After all that exertion, you'll want to refuel, and the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge has plenty of places in which to do so. At the casual end of the scale, Fitzhugh's To Go caters for guests keen to get out and explore the great outdoors, creating picnics with gourmet sandwiches and other deli delicacies. For a more substantial (and static) meal, The Moose's Nook is a classic Canadian chophouse, specialising in the finest local produce such as game, organic meats and excellent seafood. The new Orso Trattoria offers 'an authentic taste of Northern Italy, with significantly better views', which the residents of the Italian Dolomites might have something to say about. They shouldn't, however, complain about the high quality of the food.
Next stop on the hotel's whistlestop tour of the world's culinary highlights is Japan and Oka Sushi, an intimate sushi bar serving the highest quality seafood imported from Japan and Vancouver. Over at the golf course, Thompson's Terrace (named after Stanley Thompson, the course architect), offers snacks, light lunches and - in season - barbecues on the lovely terrace. Another terrace with outstanding views can be found at The Emerald Lounge, which by day serves burgers and light lunches and by night doubles as the hotel's main bar, with a fine cocktail menu and local craft ales on tap (try the jasper Brewing Company beer).
Another place to let your hair down is the Fairmont Reflections Spa, designed like a mountain lodge retreat complete with pine and stone décor and roaring fires. There is a wide range of treatments on offer inspired by local elements (think lavender-infused stone massages and maple-butter body wraps), alongside more conventional steam rooms and saunas.
If anyone needed reminding about the sheer scale of things in Canada, then the fact that the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge has a mere 700 acres of grounds should do the trick.
Will, Original Traveller