Top Canadian Summer Adventures
Summer in Canada means exploring the outdoors, enjoying nature and embarking upon active adventures. From golfing and horseback riding in the Rockies to biking in British Columbia and adrenaline thrills in Quebec, here's a selection of Fairmont's top summer experiences throughout Canada.
Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
Beginning its historic journey in 1915 with tents set along the shores of pristine Lac Beauvert, Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, situated in Alberta’s Jasper National Park, continues to wow guests with breathtaking mountain vistas and visits from neighbouring wildlife. In 1925, celebrated golf course architect Stanley Thompson completed the resort's renowned 18-hole course. Highly acclaimed for its challenging layout and spectacular scenery, the Fairmont Jasper Park Golf Club has been rated by SCOREGolf Magazine as Canada’s #1 Golf Resort for 20 consecutive years. Off the green, guests continue to experience the beauty of the natural surroundings by unwinding in the spa’s Eucalyptus Steam Room or sipping a glass of wine on the Emerald Lounge patio.
Beyond the hotel, adventurous summer visitors looking for a novel way to get close to nature can join a canyoning tour. This involves slipping on a wetsuit, clipping onto a rope, and following the course of a stream as it snakes through a narrow, steep-sided gorge. Staying dry isn't an option as you plunge into pools, clamber down rocky slopes, and navigate your way through the canyon by any means possible, be it jumping, swimming or rappelling down cliff faces. Rocky Mountain Canyoning runs half- and full-day tours to Two Valley and Morrow canyons between July and September. Book through Maligne Adventures.
A grand Edwardian hotel, the Fairmont Empress overlooks the BC capital’s bustling Inner Harbour. The Empress has hosted a long list of royalty and celebrities, from Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip to actors such as Katharine Hepburn and Harrison Ford. The recently renovated property features rooms that celebrate both the history and the natural beauty of the West Coast, while moving Fairmont Empress into a new era of modern luxury. Tea at the Empress has been a tradition here since the hotel opened in 1908 and is considered a must-do for any visitor to Victoria. Along with mouthwatering house-made pastries and rooftop preserves, nearly 500,000 cups of tea are served annually in the newly restored Lobby Lounge. Enjoy live music during the day, or venture in for an evening of champagne, classic cocktails and a selection of exquisite seafood in the chic new space.
Searching for something stronger than tea? BC's craft beer scene is booming, and Victoria is home to a clutch of small-scale breweries as well as Canada's original purpose-built gastro brewpub, Spinnakers. The Pedaler’s three-hour Hoppy Hour Ride is a bike-and-beer tour combining a scenic cycle ride around this bike-friendly city with tasting stops along the way. Riders will sample Victoria’s finest ales and learn about the city’s brewing history and indulge in a chocolate truffle and beer pairing. A whiz across the Selkirk Trestle, part of the city’s 60-km Galloping Goose Trail, will help you work off some of those tasty treats.
Fairmont Le Château Montebello
The world’s largest log cabin, Fairmont Le Château Montebello lies in the heart of Montebello village, Québec. Built in just four months in 1930, the hotel’s main buildings were created from 10,000 hand-cut red-cedar logs. Originally an exclusive private club, this rural retreat has welcomed many well-known figures, including Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Pierre Trudeau and François Mitterand, who attended the G7 summit here in 1981. Guests can take part in a wide variety of summer activities on hotel grounds, including canoeing, horseback riding and tennis, capped off by a delicious outdoor barbecue on a terrace overlooking the Ottawa River.
If you’re looking for an unusual way to discover Montebello's scenery, Explora Géo-Rallye is a blend of orienteering, rally racing and brainpower. Participants race against the clock on a Geobike, an electric all-terrain bike equipped with an iPad to help navigate the course. The geo-rally circuit takes you along roads, trails and bike paths to checkpoints where you need to solve a riddle. Under-14s can ride behind their parents on special two-seater bikes or squeeze into a three-wheeler ELF vehicle. Daily and annual prizes are awarded to the racers with the fastest times.
Tucked in the pedestrianized village at the base of Mont-Tremblant and surrounded by endless lush forest filed with wide spread trails, Fairmont Tremblant makes a superb base for enjoying the Québec resort’s outdoor adventures. In summer, you can plan your next hike and relax over drinks in the Poolside Café or soothe muscles from the day’s activities in the hotel’s whirlpools. At night lay back in the Nansen Lounge for a mouthwatering steak accompanied by a refreshing locally brewed Saint-Arnould beer. The concierge can help arrange a round at one of Mont-Tremblant’s five golf courses, all just a few minutes away.
For a thrilling aerial view of Mont-Tremblant, take to the sky on Ziptrek Ecotours. A gondola whisks you to the mountain’s summit, where you'll whoosh back to the village on a series of five zip-lines, the longest stretching a massive 1,067 meters. Guides introduce the local ecosystem and ensure you’re securely clipped on before you zoom above the treetops. Parallel zip-lines mean you can fly side by side with a friend or family member, covering nearly 4 kilometers altogether. Short forest hikes connect lines, and viewing platforms give you a chance to catch your breath, steady your nerves and snap photos.
Fairmont Banff Springs
Designated a National Historic Site, Fairmont Banff Springs lies at the heart of the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park, Alberta and has been welcoming guests since 1888. It’s a short walk from the pretty town of Banff, with its smart boutiques and restaurants, and within easy reach of Banff Upper Hot Springs. The hotel’s 18-hole golf course was designed by Stanley Thompson in 1928 and was the first course in the world to cost $1 million to build. Nine more holes were added in 1989, allowing golfers to tee off from 27 holes beside the glacier-fed Bow River.
A sprawling wilderness of glaciers, alpine meadows and turquoise lakes tempts visitors onto the many trails surrounding Banff. Heli-hiking is a great way to skip the crowds and enjoy a head start to the high peaks. CMH has been flying thrill-seekers into the mountains for more than 50 years. Its summer experiences include glacier treks amid the granite spires of nearby Bugaboo Provincial Park, and via ferratas, where you clamber up sheer rock faces with the help of fixed metal rungs and cables. Alternatively, you can enjoy Hatha yoga and lungfuls of mountain air on a sunset heli-yoga tour with Rockies Heli Canada.
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
Encircled by mountains on the shore of a striking emerald lake, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise also sits among the jagged peaks of Banff National Park. In summer, early risers can snap sensational sunrise shots of Mount Victoria reflecting into the lake before joining a guided mountain adventure. The hotel employed Swiss mountain guides from 1899 until 1954 and reintroduced a guiding service in 1997. Guests can join an accredited naturalist on a hike or paddle a canoe around the lake, and tuck into post-adventure cocktails served in the sleek, newly renovated Lakeview Lounge overlooking the lake and Victoria Glacier.
Alternatively, follow in the footsteps of the early settlers and encounter the Rockies on horseback. From Lake Louise, two classic trails lead to historic teahouses high in the alpine. A half-day ride with Brewster Adventures weaves through spruce and fir trees above the lake to Lake Agnes Tea House. Sitting at over 2,000 metres, the lakeshore eatery has been serving tea since 1905, with more than 100 varieties on its menu. The current building dates back to 1981, but retains the original windows and furnishings. A slightly longer trip takes you to the Plain of Six Glaciers. As the name suggests, the trail allows you to gaze at six glaciers, with time for refreshments at a circa-1924 teahouse.
Fairmont Chateau Whistler
Nestled at the base of Blackcomb mountain, Fairmont Chateau Whistler is perfectly placed to make the most of the BC resort's vast array of summer activities. Guests can sip martinis on the slopeside Mallard Terrace or relax poolside in a private cabana. Golfers enjoy mountain views and may spot the occasional ambling black bear on the hotel's 18-hole championship course, created by Robert Trent Jones II. If you need a few tennis pointers, the Fairmont Health Club can arrange lessons with certified professionals on one of its two Plexipave outdoor courts. Fairmont guides organize summer excursions, including hikes and lake swims.
When the snow melts, Whistler mountain’s ski slopes are transformed into a massive downhill mountain bike park. Lifts carry you and your bike uphill, where you can take your pick from more than 80 kilometers of graded trails and hurtle back down on two wheels. Beginners head to the Fitzsimmons Zone where gentle runs such as Easy Does It or Crabapple Turns help you find your feet. Advanced riders make a beeline for the Peak Zone and its Top of the World trail, a bone-rattling ride from the summit back down to the village. The Creek Zone opened in 2015, with expert routes to Whistler Creekside via Upper and Lower Dusty’s Downhill.
Susie Henderson is passionate about travelling and has written articles and travel guides for numerous publications and websites, including the World Travel Guide, Sky News online, MSN Travel, Mail Travel, The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. She's lived in the UK, France, Spain and the US and is now based in Victoria, BC.
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