Whenever I travel I can never really say that it is a holiday for me. A holiday would entail something relaxing. Lying on an exotic beach sipping a cocktail and getting massages. No, my holidays are go, go, go from the minute I step off the plane until the moment I get back on it. I want to see and experience as much as I can. So after running around Banff and Lake Louise for two weeks straight which you can read about here and here, I though it was time to slow down and take some time to rejuvenate my wired body for the last few days of my trip.
I mean this place is famous for it’s hot springs so I was in the right place to soothe my restless soul. Let me show you all the ways of rejuvenation in the Rocky Mountains, Canada.
Banff is a town located within the Banff National Park surrounded by the stunning snow capped Rocky Mountains in Alberta, Canada. It is a destination for outdoor sports including hiking, biking, skiing, snow shoeing, canoeing, etc.
Banff was first settled in the 1880’s, after the transcontinental railway was built through the Bow Valley.
The area was named Banff in 1884 by George Stephen, president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, recalling his birthplace in Banff, Scotland. The Canadian Pacific built a series of grand hotels along the rail line and advertised the Banff Springs Hotel as an international tourist resort.
The Fairmont Banff Springs
My first destination on the rejuvenation ride was to check in at The Fairmont Banff Springs. When it comes to wellness and relaxation this place exudes every element of that. You are treated like royalty from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave. As soon as you arrive bell boys are at your car window waiting to help you with bags and taking care of your car.
The Fairmont Banff Spring is famous for the award winning European style Willowstream Spa. Willow Stream spa is reminiscent of the hot springs that beckoned travellers over 100 years ago. The pulsating waterfalls and the mineral pool in the heart of the spa rejuvenate tired muscles and soothe troubled spirits. The intensity of oxygen inspires clarity of thought and renews strength of purpose. Willow Stream brings to life the unique healing powers of the alpine air, the sacred waters and mountain magic.
Or you can take a dip in the outdoor hot tub. This was my favourite place to be while I stayed at The Fairmont. When it was minus 18 degrees outside and snowing I was embalmed in a 39 degree cocoon of hot water while floating around admiring the stunning mountain views. Ahh, this was the epitome of relaxation.
Rocky Mountain Yoga
After enjoying some time floating around in the outdoor hot tub it was time to head over to Bear Street for some Rocky Mountain Yoga. This place is set up so that you can look out the huge windows at the beautiful snow capped mountains while you are holding each pose. After a few days skiing and snow shoeing all over Banff and Lake Louise, yoga was just the thing I needed to stretch out all those tight muscles.
Erin Evans guided us through a wonderful Ashtanga Yoga class which ended with hand stands. I can proudly say I held mine for at least 20 seconds. Ok, maybe I had the help of a hot muscly guy holding me up! ? I certainly felt calm and centred after this awesome class.
Sacred Sounds Healing
Feeling stretched and grounded it was it time to head over to Amaryllis Crystal Garden for a session of sacred sounds healing. I was a bit skeptical about this at first because I didn’t really know anything about it. Martha welcomed us into her sanctuary on Bear Street and we all laid down on yoga matts with blankets and pillows. It was getting dark outside and I felt so cozy as I laid there listening to Martha talk about her singing bowls and what they do.
Martha Birkett is a Certified Body Talk Practitioner for humans and for animals. One of her greatest passions is vibrational medicine and the ancient art of sound healing.
Time for a Sound Bath
Alchemy Crystal Singing Bowls are made of the highest quality (99.992% pure) quartz crystal, making them incredibly resonant.
These tones are not just heard by the ear, the tones produced by crystal bowls are felt throughout your body. Certain tones affect your energy centres (chakras) for healing, balancing and meditation. We all laid down to enjoy a sound bath which was a truly meditative and healing experience where multiple bowls are selected specifically for you and when played, surround you with their powerful healing tones.
So how do the bowls affect our bodies so profoundly? Every part of our body, down to cellular level and DNA, are crystalline in structure. This allows them to respond and resonate with the frequencies produced by the alchemy crystal singing bowls. The benefits of each bowl are unique to its composition, size, shape and frequency.
I went in feeling skeptical and walked away from this experience feeling enlightened. I really recommend you try sacred sounds healing if you get the chance. The benefits are not something that can be explained, only felt during and afterwards.
Dinner at Nourish Bistro
After a lovely day of rejuvenation it was time to fill my body with some delicious nutritious food and the No.1 place to do that in Banff is at Nourish Bistro in Bear Street. Nourish Bistro is Banff’s premiere vegetarian oasis! Delicious, creative food fresh from farm to table. Organic wine, spirits, and beers at an elegant eco-bar. I am not vegetarian anymore but you don’t have to be vegetarian to eat here. The food is so hearty and filling, if you are a meat eater you won’t feel like you were deprived at all. Just a warning – the meals are huge. And the Nachos are amazing!
Getting out in nature
Nothing recharges my batteries more than getting out amongst nature. And what an amazing place to do that in the middle of the Rocky Mountains – Banff. I joined up with Discover Banff Tours for a nature/snow-shoeing experience at Johnson Lake the next day. They organise and lead small personalized tours in Banff and Lake Louise. Programs include sightseeing tours, wildlife watching, Banff horseback riding, and dog-sledding in Banff National Park, ice walks, snowshoeing, sleigh rides and more! They love to share their knowledge and passion for the Canadian Rockies to ensure you experience the best vacation in Banff Lake Louise.
It was a stunning blue bird day as we made our way through the forest before coming out onto a very frozen Johnson Lake that was covered in a foot of snow!
Finding the hermit hut
We also found the hut that was owned and lived in by Billy Carver known as The Hermit of Inglismaldie:
The Hermit of Inglismaldie
Billy Carver built this cabin in 1910, living as a recluse for 27 years. Originally from England, he worked occasionally at the mines in this area. His only acquaintance was Gee Moy, owner of the Market Garden at Anthracite, who brought him provisions. He was seldom seen by anyone else unless by accident.
After our snow shoeing adventures it was time to make taffy. I found it hilarious that Canadians just cook taffy in the middle of a snow covered lake but that’s half the fun I guess. Our tour leader heated some maple syrup in a pan until it was boiling, smoothed out a spot in the fresh snow on the picnic table and poured out the maple syrup onto the snow. After about 20 seconds it had cooled enough to start rolling it up on a paddle pop stick. Then you eat it! It tasted pretty good. A little bit cold with all the snow on it but the hot chocolate warmed us up again after eating it!
Lunch at Block Kitchen and Bar
After the 3km walk around Johnson Lake, it was time for lunch so we headed to Block Kitchen and Bar. Block’s Mediterrasian fare covers a variety of plates influenced from all corners of the globe. Their Chefs work hard behind the scenes to bring you nothing but the best flavours. They’re all about serving up world cuisine; plating dishes that everyone loves to eat, super-charged with unique flavours & spices that are both Mediterranean and Asian inspired.
The food was absolutely delicious and I could not get enough of the octopus takoyaki. The Best! ??
Relax time at Willowstream Spa, The Fairmont
After a big day of snow shoeing and feasting on delicious nutritious food it was time for some more relaxation at the Willowstream Spa back at the Fairmont. We soothed our bodies in the mineral rich waters of the indoor spa pool hopping between hot, warm and cold spa baths with a waterfall that falls so hard onto you it feels like a massage. Pure Bliss!
Cave and Basin National Historic Site
The next day after a peaceful nights sleep it was time to learn about the history of Banff and how the town became so famous for its hot springs. We headed off to the Cave and Basin National Historic site on a cold and snowy morning.
In 1883, three Canadian Pacific Railway workers stumbled upon a series of natural hot springs on the side of Sulphur Mountain. In 1885, Canada established a federal reserve around the Cave and Basin hot springs, and began promoting the area as an international resort and spa.
The original cave (as shown below) is stunning to see. There is no longer swimming here to preserve the beauty of the place.
Banff Upper Hot Springs
And why not visit the Banff Upper Hot Springs after learning about the history of hot springs in Banff. We soaked in the steamy hot mineral water where travellers have come to ‘take the waters’ for over a hundred years. Banff National Park’s only hot springs pool welcomes you for an authentic heritage experience that is a favourite among visitors. You would think I would be all hot springed out but when its snowing outside, all I want to do is get into the warm soothing waters!
Dinner at Three Ravens
The Three Ravens Restaurant and Wine Bar is consistently one of Banff’s top rated restaurants on TripAdvisor. Executive Chef Sébastien Tessier and his knowledgeable team are as passionate as you are about fresh, inventive cuisine and great wines. I love trying local food whenever I am somewhere new and I had the pleasure of trying Bison for the first time. It was so tender and tasty and cooked to perfection! Everything about the three course meal was exquisite and if you are in Banff, make sure you add this restaurant to your list of places to try.
After two full days of hot tubs, spas, yoga, sound healing, snow shoeing and delicious, nutritious foods, I was feeling on top of the world again. Sometimes I forget that I need to slow down and take time for my body to catch up. These two days were just what I needed and they made my trip to Canada so much more enjoyable. This was a great reminder to take some time out on trips to just rest and relax.
Have you been on a wellness only/rejuvenation holiday before?
If so, let me know by leaving a comment below. I would love to know what your experience was like.
Big thanks to Banff and Lake Louise Tourism for having me. Even though this was a sponsored stay as always all opinions are my own.