the ultimate day trip to banff.

if i could plan a perfect sunday it would include mountains, movement, relaxation, great food, and even better company. 

knowing this love of mine, i was invited by Pursuit and Fairmont Banff Springs to experience the ultimate day trip to banff – one, for me, all accessible by transit. 

the day requires an early wake-up call, but for the rockies it’s never hard to jump out of bed. at 6 a.m. i boarded the calgary to banff Pursuit coach bus that left from the Fairmont Paliser in downtown calgary, which is only a quick walk from my condo. 

after a few more city stops, and one in canmore, we arrived in banff at 8 a.m. i jumped off the shuttle and immediately on to the #1 ROAM banff city bus that takes you to the base of sulpher mountain. 

i love taking the gondola up the mountain to the interpretive centre at the summit; if you have a bad fear of heights know the enclosed car for four is a sturdy and comfortable vessel. the scenic cableway ride takes about 15 minutes and brings you to viewing decks and hiking trails at the summit.

our sunday activities started with a complimentary yoga class at the top of sulphur courtesy of lululemon. free to everyone, this weekly class only requires you to register online and make your way to the top. you can take the gondola, as we did, or you could hike up the mountain, too. if you choose to hike, you’d have to leave the city earlier than 6 a.m., and you couldn’t take transit unless you went up the night before.

located on the fourth level observation deck of the banff gondola interpretive centre, mountaintop yoga is just as dreamy as you’d assume it to be.

360-degree views of the gorgeous canadian rockies is your backdrop for a one-hour vinyasa class. every sunday, class is led by a different yoga instructor from the community. they bring their unique style to the summit practice. thankfully for my creaky bones, our instructor was an osteopath and paid specific attention to alignment and functional movement. you can bring your own mat if you have one, but don’t worry if you don’t because lululemon will supply one for you to borrow.

after class, we snapped a few photos for the ‘gram. (#duh) and took some time to explore the interpretive centre and summit before lunch.

morning really is the best time to visit the gondola because it’s less busy. we walked along the boardwalk to the summit point taking in the beautiful views of banff below.

the walk gave me some time to get to know the five other women on this day trip with me; we chatted and strolled in the beautiful sunshine, and i obsessively asked everyone if they put their sunscreen on. it was a really hot day, and UV damage is really real. yes, i’m the most non-mom mom you’ve ever met.

the two-kilometre out-and-back stroll really worked up our appetite, and we headed back to the interpretive centre for lunch. on the third floor, you’ll find sky bistro.

perched on the summit of sulphur, sky bistro is the dining sanctuary in the sky. they pair the grandeur of the rocky mountains with a distinctly canadian menu that features the unique flavours of canada through a handpicked selection of regionally-sourced local meats, produce and ingredients. it’s all about indulgence at 7,486 ft.!

everything on the menu sounded delicious. i opted for a watermelon salad, and seafood chowder made with ocean wise seafood. it’s nice to know the restaurant takes sustainability and global conservation to heart, especially since they are located in the middle of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

back at the bottom of the mountain, we carpooled over to the Fairmont Banff Springs. the trip can also be made on ROAM transit, but when someone offers you a ride, you take it!

the world famous hotel stands as a landmark in the picturesque alpine town of banff and is known as canada’s “castle in the rockies”. it is dripping in luxury and beauty. it’s more than just a hotel, the resort offers visitors a championship golf course during the summer, unparalleled skiing in the winter, the award-winning european-style willow stream spa, and authentically local dining experiences.

while i’m not much of a golfer or a skier, those last two amenities sound right up my alley!

“a day at the spa” isn’t something i’ve indulged in before. i followed the lead of the other ladies, trading my yoga pants for swimsuit and topping it all with a plush robe – then got lost two or three times in the changeroom looking for the exit.

once i finally made it out to the pools, i was in awe. reminiscent of the hot springs that beckoned travellers over 100 years ago, the pulsating waterfalls and the mineral pool rejuvenate tired muscles and soothe troubled spirits. the intensity of oxygen inspires clarity of thought and renews strength of purpose.

willow stream spa brings to life the unique healing powers of the alpine air and the sacred waters. drawing energy from the mountains, the quiet sanctuary helps balance the rhythms of your body to reawaken your senses.

i dipped in pool after pool, smearing my eye make up (of course), lounging under the waterfalls and soaking in the outdoor hot tub.

this type of luxury doesn’t have to break the bank. weekday (mon-thu after 4pm) and weekend (fri-sun after 5pm) happy-hour access is available for $49. and twilight weekday (mon-thu) spa access is available after 7pm for only $35.

after hours of relaxing enjoyment, we headed back to the women’s changeroom to sit in the sauna before showering and getting beautiful for the rest of the day. i reluctantly handed over my robe to tour around the grand hotel. large and impressive, and eerily beautiful, the word haunted may be thrown around in hushed tones.

the tour ended at the newly renovated the vermilion room.

good looking and bold – just as i like my men – the beautiful brasserie has an effortless charm, bustling atmosphere and a menu to delight in. the kitchen serves dishes with french elegance and canadian charm. while we were still stuffed from lunch, there is always room for dessert!

profiteroles à la crème pâtissière and tarte aux pommes arrived at our table and it took all my restraint to snap a few photos before nibbling on one of the chocolatey creampuffs.
and of course, what is a brasserie without a drink? the vermillion room serves an intriguing wine list, your favourite beer on tap and a cocktail (or two).
to my delight, they also have an extensive non-alcoholic cocktail list. as a light drinker, it felt nice to order something other than a water or be offered pop when asking for non-alcoholic drinks.
i had the vermillion cooler, made of house green tea syrup, beet, and house-made lemonade. it was a mixture of tangy and earthy, while still being refreshing. they also make a booze-free G&T with SEEDLIP – the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirit.

i spent the rest of the way wandering around the town of banff, popping into the little local shops and enjoying the sunshine before taking the on-it transit bus back to calgary.

i arrived home tired but blissful. and ready to do it all again!

thank you Pursuit and Fairmont Banff Springs for the perfect sunday.