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Friday, January 28, 2011

Banff’s Hidden Treasures for Mom and Dad


Part of providing Banff’s finest family accommodation is understanding that sometimes Mom and Dad need a break too. So, although our past blogs have highlighted the many family-friendly activities which Banff has to offer, I’d like to dedicate this blog to our readers looking for some fun, affordable and relaxing happenings around this beautiful alpine town of ours.

Having been a Banff resident for a few months now has offered me the opportunity to get beneath the surface of the town and discover its greatest secrets. Today I am going to share with you what I believe are Banff’s hidden treasures:

Banff Tea Company
The Banff Tea Company, located on Caribou Street, is one of my favorite shops in town! You need just to step inside, smell the aroma, hear the world music and see the décor to recognize that the Banff Tea Company is a unique and fun experience. The store was designed to be a place of creativity and the “sniffer tins” allow you to smell each of the 180 different teas before you buy. The friendly and knowledgeable staff weighs your choice of tea right in front of you – apothecary style – and answers any questions you may have! Every Tuesday evening between 6 and 9 you can enjoy free tea tastings that will not only educate but add to your evenings' entertainment.

Banff is home to some of the finest chocolate shops in the Rocky Mountains. You need only walk down Banff Avenue to view chocolatiers going about their business through shop windows, to understand what I am talking about. A few that I recommend include:

Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut
111 Banff Avenue, Banff - (403) 762-4106

Welchs' Chocolate Shop
126 Banff Avenue, Banff - (403) 762-3737

Roger's Chocolates
133 Banff Avenue, Banff - (403) 762-4500

So ensure to tantalize your taste buds while in Banff by visiting one of these charming chocolate shops!

Wild Flour Bakery
Every Banffite knows and loves the Wild Flour Bakery. Located off of Bear Street in the Bison Courtyard, the artesian Wild Flour Bakery offers a warm and creative environment to relax with a coffee and one of their delightful freshly baked cakes (my personal favorite is the dark chocolate vegan cake, yum!) or enjoy a wholesome and affordable breakfast or lunch.

So if you are looking for downtime, a place to read or people watch, my suggestion is head to Wild Flour – the kids love it too!

Rocky Mountain Yoga

Stretch your stresses away with the Rocky Mountain Yoga Lounge. Also located in the Bison Courtyard, the Rocky Mountain Yoga lounge is a great way to relax and center yourself for an hour of your a day. The studio provides a beautiful and calming environment, offering a range of classes to suit various levels of experience – Mindy the studio’s owner is particularly kind and helpful.

Participating in drop-in classes has been made particularly easy as there are yoga mats, towels, yoga blocks provided (free of charge) on site

Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies
Lovers of art will be blown away by the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies. Rich with history, the museum was created back in 1968 by Catharine Whyte - a product of her and husband Peter’s interest in culture and understanding of philanthropy.

The museum has an eclectic collection of art all which pays homage to the Canadian Rockies. Despite your taste there is always something for everyone to admire, so relax and take in the beauty of Banff through the artistic eyes.

The Banff Center

Another way to feed your creative side is by attending one of the many performances or exhibitions taking place at The Banff Center each month.

With ticket prices approximately $10 for children and $18 for adults, a night at The Banff Center makes for a brilliant and affordable experience. For more information on events and performances be sure to look at their website:

I hope these ‘insider tips’ help to make your Banff vacation an even more enjoyable one!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Australia Day the Banff Way


Banff can undoubtedly be classified as a ‘multi-cultural melting pot’, with an array of nationalities either visiting the town, or calling it home. However, when the snow arrives each year there is a very clear shift in the town’s inhabitants, as Banff plays host to a booming Australian population escaping the scorching heat to experience the Canadian ski-season.

Tomorrow, January 26th, Banff’s thriving Australian populace will be celebrating the day which commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788, Australia Day.

Being a proud Australian myself, I wanted to dedicate a blog to my almighty ‘mother land’, and to those finding themselves in the buzzing town of Banff this Australia day. As always, the town of Banff never disappoints, providing an array of activities for all age groups. Below outlines two of my favorites this year:

Lake Louise Ski Area
Lake Louise Ski Area would like to say thanks, and ‘good on ya’, to the fine imports that hold their ski town together by holding a HUGE Australia Day Party.

The festivities will be centered around the Kokanee Kabin where there will be plenty of Australian themed activities to take part in and heaps of Aussie treats to be won. The JJJ Hottest 100 will be counting down all day long and the barbie will be fired up for a Sausage Sizzle!

Location: Kokanee Kabin
Time: 11:00am - 4:00pm
Cost: Free Access to the Kokanee Kabin

Schedule of Events
All Day: JJJ Hottest 100 playing at the Kokanee Kabin
11:00AM - 2:00PM: Sausage Sizzle
1:30PM: Australian Eating Contest
2:00PM: Nutbush City Limits Dance Off
2:30PM: Australian Curling

Sunshine Village
Home to many the Aussie this ski season, Sunshine Village is inviting everyone to join them on the slopes, donning their finest yellow and green colored apparel.

Australia Day themed events will be raging all day long including a snow rugby game and ‘thong toss’ – which translates as a ‘flip flop toss’ for Canadians.

Sunshine Village will also be offering Australian fare such as sausage sizzle, pies and beer. Yum!

On behalf of the Douglas Fir Resort, wishing you the happiest of Australian Days!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Explore your wild side in Banff


Nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, just a 90-minute drive west from the lively city of Calgary, is the town of Banff. Banff is well known for its breathtaking beauty, however having recently become a Banff resident myself, what took MY breath away was the large numbers of wildlife casually roaming the streets around town – in Australia it isn’t all that often that you share the footpath with an elk when you’re walking home from your evening grocery shopping run. It is true that unlike many other holiday destinations, Banff offers the unique experience of truly becoming closer to nature, of co-existing with wild (but curious) animals in their own habitat.

Here at the Douglas Fir Resort, located on the scenic and serene Tunnel Mountain, we have become quite used to animal sightings. It is not uncommon to wait for the Roam bus with an unperturbed deer, or to wake up to an elk or two wandering outside your chalet, peacefully foraging for food. However, as normal as it has become, sharing day-to-day life with these beautiful creatures never seems to get old!

Whether you’re a lover of animals with two or four legs, mammals or amphibians, there will be something for everyone. Indeed, red squirrels, chipmunks, wolverines, shrews and bats are just a few of the species found in the park. Fans of creepy crawlies, meanwhile, may wish to take to the woods and search for mountain pine beetles.

Both grizzly and black bears inhabit Banff and can be seen travelling along and crossing roads in their search for food. Coyotes, elks and big cats - in the shape of cougars and Canadian lynx - are also in abundance. And with the park home to a number of endangered and threatened species, it could offer people perhaps their only chance to see woodland caribou, the Banff spring snail and the Canada warbler.

The best times of year to visit Banff if you’re looking for wildlife are in early spring (April – May) or in fall (September – October).

*Above is the traffic my partner often encounters on his commute to work. Talk about a traffic jam!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Banff Family Fun!


Although the weather outside is still rather chilly, Banff has many secrets to share this January. Insiders know that the best places are ones that keep kids engaged but don’t bore the snowpants off mom and dad. For that reason here are some of the fun activities and hotspots around Banff this winter:

• Starting with the Douglas Fir Resort, what better way to defrost than an exhilarating ride down our two giant indoor waterslides, a splash around in our kiddies’ pool, or by simply relaxing in the 24-person Jacuzzi or large steam room? Need to dry off? Why not try our games room, conveniently located right next to the waterslides. And for the very little ones, we have ourseven level play-zone! It’s safe to say that your fun family holiday starts right outside your hotel door here at the Douglas Fir Resort.

• As for outside activities, there is a fantastic tobogganing hill located near the Waldhaus Restaurant below the Fairmont Banff Springs (parking near Bow Falls). You can buy a toboggan cheaply at the Home Hardware store on Bear St in Banff.

• Additionally, The Fairmont Banff Springs often has an outdoor ice rink and ice hockey nets set up next to the tobogganing hill. It is lit at night and they offer hot chocolate and fire-pits to warm up.

• Finally, what would a winter vacation to Banff be without visiting one of our incredible ski hills? Mt Norquay, Sunshine and Lake Louise ski resorts offer great family friendly activities year round including my favorite – tubing!

So whether you are looking for a warm spot to wear the kids out or a winter wonderland to explore, these are just a few of the many adventures that Banff has going on this winter.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Housekeeping with a conscience


Here at the Douglas Fir Resort we receive a lot of positive feed-back regarding our impeccable housekeeping service. We take pride in our hotel and seek to provide only the best quality and service to our guests – but ensuring that 130 rooms and chalets, fitness center, play-zone, pools and waterslides are all kept spotless takes a lot of time, energy and zest!

The lady behind the magic is our enchanting Housekeeping Manager, Veronica Park. Having been with the Douglas Fir Resort for 3 years, Veronica has ensured that her socially-conscience mindset and passion for the environment has translated into her work, and your room!

Veronica has applied various eco-friendly initiatives at the Douglas Fir Resort which extend from us cleaning the tiles in the bathrooms to you washing your hair. I would like to highlight these initiatives in this blog.

Not noticeable to the untrained eye, each kitchen at the Douglas Fir Resort now sports 100% bio-degradable garbage bags. In addition to this, Veronica has reduced our ‘plastic consumption’ by providing a bio-degradable shampoo and conditioner bottles made from corn starch in each room. Plastic makes up 80% of the volume of litter on roads, parks, and beaches and makes up 90% of floating litter in the ocean – now thank you to Veronica, we can say that the Douglas Fir Resort is doing their part to reduce this major environmental issue.

A key element of our housekeeping service of course involves cleaning products! Through extensive research Veronica came across the brand Shaklee which produces vegan-friendly, organic, natural cleaning products. We have adopted these products to clean everything - from the floor, to wiping down the kitchen benches and scrubbing the toilet bowls. These natural, chemical and pesticide free cleaning products are even being used by our guests in the form of both the dish-washing powder and kitchen detergent that we provide. In fact, the only chemical cleaner that we use at the hotel is the sanitizer used on our toilets and the children's play-zone.

Last, but not least, understanding the importance of a cozy bed and a good night’s sleep, Veronica has ensured that guests are provided with hypo-allergenic pillows. How thoughtful!

On behalf of the Douglas Fir Resort I would love to thank Veronica –and of course her hard-working staff – for being such an inspiring, passionate co-worker and ensuring a fresh and sparkling clean environment for both our guests and staff.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Deals to Delight!


At the Douglas Fir Resort, you tell us what you want and we listen. After many years of practice, we feel that we have a pretty good idea of what our wonderful guests enjoy – so in keeping with tradition we have recently extended the offers on some of our most popular ‘Specials and Packages’ so that you and your family may enjoy them all the way up until January 2012.

Whether it is cooking your own breakfast (just the way you like it), taking advantage of Banff’s most popular, year-round attractions or taking a night-off from the kids to enjoy each other’s company, the Douglas Fir Resort offers a variety of packages to delight our guests.

Not well acquainted with these? Let’s take a closer look:

Bed and Cook Your Own Breakfast Package
Just picture yourself, waking up in your cozy, warm bed to the unbelievable view of Banff’s Rocky Mountains. Picture yourself taking in this scenery, relaxing, enjoying a mug of freshly-brewed hot coffee and a delicious breakfast of bacon and eggs without even having to leave your room or get out of your pajamas!

The Douglas Fir Resort’s ‘Bed and Cook Your Own Breakfast’ package is one of our most popular for good reason. Allowing you to take full advantage of our fully equipped kitchens, the package includes:

-One night of accommodation in a condo of your choice
-A breakfast bundle including:
          One Dozen large white eggs
          350 grams (3/4 pound) of bacon
          2 litres of 1% milk
          250 ml (1 cup) of half & half cream
          8 mini boxes of Kellogg’s cereal
          1 litre of Sun Rype orange juice
          1 loaf of 60% whole wheat bread
          ¼ block of butter

Avoid the morning hassle and relax on your holiday with a leisurely breakfast just the way you like it!

Banff Two Meal Deal
After an adventure filled day hiking or enjoying the powder on the nearby Mountains, the last thing that many of us feel like doing is cooking dinner!

With so many of Banff’s amazing chefs in close reach why not take advantage of our ‘Banff Two Meal Deal’ package? Enjoy an amazing pizza at The Bison, delectable Greek cuisine at The Balkan, a mouth-watering steak at Bumpers Beef House, or dine at one of our offered restaurants.

The package includes:
-Two night’s accommodation in the condo of your choice
-One ‘Cook Your Own’ breakfast groceries delivered to your fridge
-One $40 meal voucher for one of Banff’s favorite restaurants, or use for pizza delivery.

What better way to finish the day?

Sightsee and Soak
For those of our guests who are interested in getting the ‘complete’ Banff experience, the ‘Sightsee and Soak’ package will not disappoint.

Enjoy the journey to the summit of Sulphur Mountain to experience a bird's eye view of six mountain ranges, before relaxing in the soothing hot waters of The Banff Upper Hot Springs against a backdrop of spectacular alpine scenery.

The package includes:
-One night accommodation in the condo of your choice
-Two (total per stay) Adult passes to the Banff Gondola
-Two (total per stay) Adult passes to the Banff Upper Hot Springs

Soak all of your stresses away and have a truly relaxing holiday!

Mom and Dad’s Date Night in Banff
The Douglas Fir Resort pride themselves on offering Banff’s finest family accommodation, however we understand that sometimes Mom and Dad need a little time for themselves too!

Take some time-off to enjoy each other’s company at one of Banff’s incredible restaurants, while an experienced babysitter looks after your children with our ‘Mom and Dad’s Date Night in Banff’ package.

The package includes:
-Three hours of babysitting
-$40.00 voucher to one of Banff’s favorite restaurants

Relax, eat and enjoy!

To view our various condos and prices make sure to view our website:

Friday, January 7, 2011

A tremendous ‘thank you’ to our wonderful guests


Before we get too far into the New Year, we at the Douglas Fir Resort would like to genuinely thank all of our amazing guests who have provided us with such great feed-back on Trip Advisor and on our comment cards over the past 12 months.

As I am sure many of you are aware, Trip Advisor is quickly becoming travelers first point to call to access reliable information and to also offer their opinion to both future-guests and hotel staff. It is because of these comments that we are able to continuously improve our hotel, our amenities and our services.

As with any industry, unless you experience the product or service first-hand it is very hard to gauge what can be done to enrich a guest’s experience, so naturally we rely on your fresh-eyes! Your suggestions on Trip Advisor and the ones our hotel staff receive directly from you are always taken on board and investigated thoroughly to help create the holiday experience that you desire.

And of course, we always love hearing about your positive holiday experiences. Here are a few of my favorite comments over the past 12 months:

“My bed was awesome, so comfortable, I slept like an angel.”

“LOVE this hotel, have stayed here twice now, and will defiantly be back! The service is great, and the amenities are second to none! When staying in Banff there isn't a better family hotel.”

“The individual cabin was beautiful and extremely well kept. Staff are most courteous and willing to oblige. With firewood at your beckon the air-tight fireplaces provide for a 'sexy atmosphere' (even at 62 there is still heat in the hearth).”

"The kids had smiles on their faces the whole time - in fact our son told us his face hurt from smiling so much!"

“The pictures on the website DO NOT do this place justice. Our room was so clean (and I'm travelling with 2 germaphobes!!) and it was a pet friendly room. The kitchen had everything you could want for a couple of nights and we enjoyed making breakfast in the morning.  My son really enjoyed the video games room and the air hockey table and pool table. We will certainly return to this resort either as a couple or with our son as it fits both lifestyles.”

Again, thank you for your constructive feed-back and amazing reviews – they are priceless. With your assistance we can continue to provide the magical Douglas Fir Resort & Chalet holiday experience!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Baby it’s cold outside!


Brrr! The snow has finally arrived in Banff bringing with it some icy temperatures. Never fear – the Douglas Fir Resort has just the right ingredients to warm up your family vacation.

Banff’s ‘finest family accommodation’ removes you from day-to-day life to enjoy the beauty of the Rocky Mountains, while providing all the luxuries of home. Offering a rustic, log-cabin feel, our accommodation provides the perfect place to relax and defrost after a day on the ski-hill.

Just imagine, curling up next to a wood-burning fire place with a cup of hot cocoa and marshmallows to watch a DVD on our new 42” flat-screen TVs, or to even relax and read a book while the kids make the most of the ‘Plug & Play’ consoles. Furthermore, enjoy our spacious rooms and each other’s company with a game of cards before nestling into our cozy beds for a good night’s rest.

And what nicer way to wake up on your family vacation than the smell of sizzling bacon, fried eggs and cup of freshly brewed coffee in your own room? Take advantage of our fully-equipped kitchen and one of our most popular packages – the ‘Bed and Cook Your Own Breakfast' package – to avoid the hassle of venturing into sub-zero weather for breakfast!

Want an indoor day? We have plenty of activities for both the little and the big kids right here on the Douglas Fir Resort grounds. For the little ones we offer a multi-level indoor ‘Play-Zone’ – being over two storeys in height and 36 feet in length, it is Western Canada's largest hotel indoor playground!! And for family fun, enjoy our two indoor waterslides as well as our heated swimming pool and whirl pool. Finally, my personal favorite way to thaw-out indoors this winter is to relax in our steam room and sauna – bliss!

We hope that we get the chance to warm you and your family up this winter season here at the Douglas Fir Resort and Chalets.

Douglas Fir Resort & Chalets

Tunnel Mountain Road
P.O. Box 1228
Banff, Alberta T1L 1B2 Canada

For reservations call toll free:
Toll free fax: 1-800-267-8774
Calgary Direct Line: 264-2563
Phone: (403) 762-5591
Fax: (403) 762-8774

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