The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
Serenity, Seclusion and
A New York
man reaches heaven, and as he passes the gate, St. Peter said, "I am sure
you will like it". A Pittsburgh man followed and St. Peter said, "it will be
a great change for you". Finally, there came a man from Jasper Park Lodge,
"I am afraid" said St. Peter, "that you will be disappointed."
Conan Doyle, from 1925 Jasper Park Lodge guest book.
inside Alberta's 4,200 square mile Jasper National Park, and flanked by the
Rocky Mountains, lies The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. The Lodge has been
welcoming visitors since 1915 when a few tents were pitched along the shores
of Beauvert Lake. Over the years the Lodge has welcomed an impressive list
of guests including Bing Crosby, Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio, Sir Arthur
Conan Doyle and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. As a matter of fact,
during their cross-country Canadian tour in 1939, the King and Queen stayed
in the elegant six-bedroom Outlook Cabin.
early 1900s, guests have been arriving at Jasper Park Lodge by train from
across Canada and the United States. I was to learn that at least 200 of my
fellow passengers on the overnight train from Vancouver were part of a U.S.
tour group, also on their way to Christmas in November at the Lodge. Three
hours out of Vancouver, as I feasted on prime rib in the vintage dining car,
my porter had transformed my room into a cosy bedroom. The lights had been
dimmed and a thick duvet was lying on the bed - a perfect setting in which
to be lulled to sleep by the rocking motion of the train.
in Jasper, a courtesy van from the Lodge was waiting to take me on the
10-minute ride to the Lodge. As a first time visitor I was surprised, and
delighted, to see that Jasper Park Lodge was in fact, not a traditional
hotel, but a secluded 1,000 acre oasis dotted with cedar chalets and
heritage log cabins. As the van turned into the driveway, I felt as if the
weight of months of big-city life were being lifted from my shoulders. My
head turned owl-like towards the horses hitched to wagons that would later
carry me on a tour of the cottages. To my right, elk lazily grazed in the
nearby woods, and straight ahead a herd of big horn sheep contentedly licked
salt off the highway, oblivious to the van just inches away from their
tails. The scent of wood smoke and the crackling fire welcomed me inside the
Lodge's Great Hall. The nearly 40-foot double stone fireplace dwarfed the
chairs and sofas placed nearby. I pulled an oversized rocking chair closer
to the fire and gave an exaggerated sigh. I revelled in the thought that
this jewel in the crown of the Canadian Rockies was to be my home away from
home during the next four days.
To help while away an hour before my
appointment with the massage therapist, I ambled the few feet over to the
opposite side of the fireplace into the rustic Emerald Lounge. Enveloped in
an oversized wingback chair and with a million-dollar view of the mountains,
I watched the steam slowly curl from my large, foamy cup of cappuccino. From
the cosy side of the generous picture windows I watched guests meander along
the veranda, shoulders hunched against the crisp November breeze. With one
eye on the fire and one on the menu I zoomed in on one of the menu
selections: "Cheese fondue for two". Memories of ski trips to the French
Alps, punctuated by lunches of fondue and wine flooded back. This was the
first of many times that I was to miss my husband during this trip. Next
time, I murmured under my breath.
Inside my lake view suite I mustered
up all of my fire-making skills and in no time the logs started to hiss and
crackle. Extra kindling and wood always magically appeared during the day.
The lake view suites are tailor made for a romantic stay: king size bed, two
terry cloth robes hanging in the bathroom, double sinks, televisions in the
living room and bedroom, and a large balcony overlooking the mountains and
the emerald-green Lake Beauvert. I imagined warm summer evenings with the
scent of evergreens and bonfires permeating the air.
As I strolled along the winding path
to partake of pre-dinner cocktails, the
sound of jubilant voices and music poured from the warmth of the Lodge's
Great Hall. The ubiquitous scent of wood smoke wafted through the air and
the sound of clinking glasses enticed me inside. Glowing candles and colorful poinsettias adorned the tables. Elegantly dressed guests mingled
with old and new friends, and savored smoked salmon and prawn
hors-d'oeuvres, ingeniously served in champagne glasses. After an evening of
festivities around the fireplace and a six-course gourmet dinner in the
Beauvert dining room, I waddled back to
my suite. Bottled water and chocolates had been placed on the nightstand and
two robes were laid side by side on the bed. Alas, I would only be using one
during this trip.
The dedicated and well-trained staff
are instrumental in the success of the Lodge. Several staff members are
second and third generation, and others are couples who met each other at
the Lodge. During the welcome reception for Christmas in November, I met a
lovely woman of a certain age who had worked in housekeeping during the 50s.
She spoke fondly of her tenure at the Lodge and has been returning as a
guest for decades. One day as I strolled through the staff parking lot, I
noticed licence plates from all across Canada. As well, I was intrigued to
hear that the server who poured my coffee on my last morning was from
soon it was time to return to urban living and leave behind the Lodge with
its thousands of twinkling lights and the wintry smell of evergreens.
Beauvert Lake would soon freeze solid to accommodate skating parties, and
sleighs will replace the horse drawn wagons. Back in the comfort of my
living room I can plan my next great Canadian lodge experience of serenity,
seclusion, and of course, sophistication.
courtesy of The Fairmont
Jasper Park Lodge
If you go:
Come aboard VIA Rail's Snow Train to
Jasper. Silver & Blue Class service includes private sleeping compartments
and great regional cuisine.
Where to stay:
The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
offers several romantic getaways during the year, as well as events such as
Christmas in November.
Log on to
for further information.
The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
P.O. Box 40, Jasper, Alberta, Canada T0E 1E0
Telephone: (780) 852-3301 Fax: (780) 852-5107