Standing on the shores of Lake Louise in 1980, with my 20 year old city boyfriend, this Canadian prairie girl was gob smacked, awestruck and simply stunned. With the World UNESCO heritage site of Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise behind me, and the Victoria glacier looming in front of me, I remained speechless. You can expect this is a most rare occasion.
The phrase you can never go back most definitely does not apply to Lake Louise. Over the past 35 years we have hiked, climbed, had coffee, ice skated and sometimes just stood, still in awe at the wonder of one of Canada’s iconic gems nestled in Banff National Park.
Three years after that my first glimpse of the glistening emerald Lake, at the ripe old age of 21, we, the newly weds, checked into the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise for our honeymoon. In all of our trips back to this mountain paradise over the years we had never stayed overnight again until this 32nd anniversary.
Much has changed in our lives since those early days, adult children to start, but the awe and wonder of the Chateau and it’s surroundings remains constant.
History of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
Almost 100 years prior to my first sighting of Lake Louise, in the summer of 1882, a young employee of the Canadian Pacific Railway, Thomas Wilson, stood with two Stoney Indian guides on the shores of the ‘Lake of Little Fishes’. Mesmerized by the blue green waters he announced’ ” I never, in all my explorations, saw such a matchless scene.”
He would be the first non native to glimpse Lake Louise, (named after the Princess Louise Caroline Alberta (1848–1939), the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria) and apparently, with thousands who would follow, shared my gob smacked reaction.
By 1890 a simple single story log cabin had been constructed to receive guests on the shores of Lake Louise. The original Chalet Lake Louise welcomed visitors from dining stations along the railway line as well as visitors from it’s elegant sister, the Banff Springs Hotel.
In 1890, 50 guests had registered and by 1912 the count had risen to 50,000. This small summer cabin, through two fires and four architects, would evolve to today’s luxurious Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
Where Canada’s Mountain Climbing Began
The birthplace of Canadian mountaineering is widely accepted to be on the surrounding peaks of Lake Louise. Between 1899 and 1954, generations of Swiss guides hired by the Canadian Pacific Railway, would teach visitors and locals to climb and ski. The Swiss influence can still be seen at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in architecture, cuisine and Mountain Heritage Adventures guided program.
What is special about staying at Chateau Lake Louise?
When we checked in for our anniversary we were advised we had been upgraded to a suite with a majestic view and we found a lovely bottle of Prosecco waiting for us. Thirty two years ago, when we two newlyweds checked in for our honeymoon, we were advised that we had been upgraded and a lovely bottle of bubbly was waiting for us.
Great service apparently stands the test of time at the Chateau. The staff then and now answered my endless questions with non stop smiles. Apparently my insistence at knowing every detail has not changed over the years either.
Offering everything from authentic Swiss fondue in the Walliser Stube to a casual burger at the Glacier Saloon to traditional afternoon tea gazing out over Lake Louise, there are food options to suit all. Yes we were found in the saloon.
We definitely did not have small children with us but I did note that kids under 5 eat free at the Chateau and age 6-12 are 50% off of the regular menu.
Chateau Lake Louise Shopping
Dave demonstrated his endless patience as I wandered from shop to shop in the Chateau. You can’t blame a girl for looking. Jewelry, clothing, purses and every Canadian souvenir imaginable. He grabbed a newspaper and happily sat patiently. I should have found him a t-shirt that says “Happy Anniversary to the long suffering husband.’
Tired from all of that hiking around the lake? How about a trip to the spa? My personal favorite is a soak in the hot tub but you can take a swim while I relax. An exercise room looks down at the pool area in case you haven’t had your fill in those beautiful Canadian Rockies.
Did I happen to mention the incredible view? No matter the season, the view standing in front of Chateau Lake Louise is astounding.
How do I get to Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise?
The closest international airport to Lake Louise is in Calgary. The drive from Calgary to Lake Louise is approximately 2 hours. Directions can be found by clicking here.
Lake Louise sits within Banff National Park and you will be required to buy a park pass at the park gates. To avoid line ups that can happen especially in peak seasons you can purchase a pass on line here. A variety of private transportation companies and shuttle services are also available.
To book your own stay in this Canadian Rockies paradise click here.
Now for a little fun some photos we took on our honeymoon. Make our day and tell us we haven’t changed a bit. 🙂
Disclosure: We were guests of Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise however all opinions shared are my own.