Canada has a tradition of railway hotels, built by the rail companies to house travelers on the epic journey across this vast country. Many, like Château Lake Louise, are grand old palaces, rising like visions from the sublime Canadian landscape.
Jasper Park is different: some 130 miles northwest of Lake Louise, this hotel started its life as a tented encampment, before its purchase by the Canadian National Railroad in the 1920s. The result is a much more down-to-earth affair than some of the railway châteaux — Jasper Park Lodge is a somewhat ramshackle collection of cottages, cabins, and chalets, all gathered around a central lodge building, alongside the idyllic Lac Beauvert. Even the town of Jasper is relatively unspoiled; most of the tourists who make it this far West (or East from Vancouver) pass through Banff, 165 miles to the south. Jasper has seen little of this traffic, and has not succumbed to the same sort of glitzy overdevelopment — locals, in fact, compare Jasper to Banff circa 1950.
If it sounds a bit like camp, it is, but the most luxurious camp you've ever been to. The living quarters vary widely, owing to the resort's piecemeal construction, but all are comfortable, rustic in décor, yet with modern facilities. Some have fireplaces, others balconies or terraces, and some of the more upscale cabins feature such niceties as a private sauna, a pool table, even kitchens.
Most rooms, though, do not have kitchens; fortunately there are no fewer than five restaurants, the most elegant of which is the Edith Cavell dining room, named for its view, across the lake, of the mountain of the same name. Dress is casual and the atmosphere is more hunting lodge than fine dining, but the menu is unquestionably gourmet, mixing old world foie gras with Canadian buffalo and venison.
Activities include golfing and skiing (both some of Canada's finest) as well as biking, canoeing, fishing, and just about anything else one can do outdoors. Of course there is the inevitable spa and health club, and children can be shuttled off to the Kids' Club for a day of supervised recreation. If you have any affinity whatever for the outdoors (and if not, how did you end up here?) then you will be impressed by Jasper Park. The hotel is an excellent one, efficient, luxurious, and picturesque, but its genius lies in the fact that, like the town of Jasper itself, it knows when to step out of the way and let Jasper Park's magnificent natural environment do the talking.
Jasper Park Lodge is a 10 minute drive from the Via Rail train station. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for directions or to arrange a complimentary transfer from the Rail Station.
P.O. Box 40, Jasper, Alberta