Meeting in a national park certainly is a “natural” lure for attendees, but many times their business facilities take a backseat to hotels and restaurants geared more toward leisure travelers with families in tow.
Not so in Alberta’s Banff National Park, which pairs some of the most spectacular scenery on Earth with a collection of storied historic resorts offering iconic accommodations near the bustling town of Banff.
“We are in a national park and have all these amenities and services to do business—it’s rare anywhere in the world,” says Cathy Macdonald, senior manager, MC&IT, with Banff Lake Louise Tourism. “It’s not a tangible thing you can measure, but meeting here really has a big effect—that idea of a ‘return on experience, “We can deliver ROI, but it’s the ‘return on experience’ that’s immeasurable.”
Established in 1885, Banff is Canada’s oldest national park, with the Canadian Pacific Railway being instrumental in its development. The railroad needed a couple jewels to lure wealthy Ontarians to ride its rails west, so it built the ultra-luxurious Banff Springs Hotel and Chateau Lake Louise.
Both properties, now sporting the Fairmont name, still reign supreme.
The Fairmont Banff Springs, a formidable stone structure called the “Castle in the Rockies,” offers 768 guest rooms and 72,000 square feet of meeting space, and the 550-room Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, about a half-hour from Banff, has 36,000 square feet of space on the shores of the postcard-perfect lake.
Other meetings properties include Rimrock Hotel Resort, with 364 rooms and 18,000 square feet of space, and Banff Park Lodge, with 211 rooms and nearly 18,000 square feet of space. The IACC-accredited Banff Centre offers 433 rooms and 70,000 square feet of space.
Attendees will soak in sights that range from the blunt granite peaks of the Canadian Rockies to Lake Louise, cradled amongst towering peaks and boasting pristine turquoise waters.
“It really is about the view,” Macdonald says. “You have a total sense of place about where you are. That’s really what differentiates us from other destinations."