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LUXURY HOTELS: Rimrock Resort Hotel, Banff, Canada
Style: Mountain chic 
Scene: Heart of the Rockies 
Seen in the lobby: Those who like their hotels and their ski slopes away from the crowds
It's the huge baronial fire in the Larkspur Lounge which draws us, like moths to a (very big) flame. This is the perfect place to end a skiing day.  We sit in winged leather chairs playing cards over a glass of cabernet our fire -warmed faces glowing as red as the wine.

The imposing Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is where the tourists and the tour buses tend to gather in droves but it is up on Sulphur Mountain here at the Rimrock Resort Hotel that you'll find the true lovers of luxury. Which is why, of course, your The Luxury Travel Bible correspondent is sitting in front of the Larkspur fire and not jostling for lobby space in the over-stuffed 'Springs.

rimrock resort view
rimrock resort view
signature grandview suite
divas lounge
rimrock resort pool
dining room
rimrock resort

 
The hotel is right in the heart of the wonderland of Banff National Park, just a short drive out of town.    Now if  - and I said, if -  I were going to launch into a rendition of 'Rocky Mountain High' (with apologies to the late John Denver) this would be the moment. Because, after all, this is the Rocky Mountains and we are high up. The Rimrock is perched right on the rim of a rocky cliff (hence the name), with spectacular views.

 When you walk into the lobby of this resort-hotel (we love a property that hedges its bets and calls itself both) you are already at seventh floor level. Ahead is a panoramic vista of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, below, cascading down the cliff like a waterfall, are most of the guest rooms.

If you are staying at a hotel with a location like this then clearly it makes sense to check into one of its signature Grand View rooms or suites. Let's not mess about; the mountain views are what you've come for aren't they?  An added plus, as it happens, is service as smooth as a well-groomed run.

Grand View rooms offer, among other things, extraordinary views of the Canadian Rockies, VIP check-in service, Aveda products in the bathroom, and Simmons Beautyrest Majestic Pillow top beds. With a name like that I expect to awake the next morning miraculously transformed into Cindy Crawford. Not so sadly but I do sleep incredibly well.    

A breakfast at the Primrose bistro and then we are ready to ski. The hotel offers any number of winter activities from skiing to ice fishing and, not to be missed if you want to experience the real spirit of Canada, tickets to a Calgary Flames Ice hockey game.

From the Rimrock it is an easy 15 minute drive (twenty if it's icy) to ski the slopes of Sunshine. The resort is treeless at the top with slopes ranged above us like albino camel humps. The wide open runs are great for intermediate skiers and the kids ski school is pretty popular too, so we spend an action-packed fun filled day there.
 If I were going to launch into a rendition of 'Rocky Mountain High' (with apologies to the late John Denver) this would be the moment.

A mere five minutes (seven if you don't drive as fast as my husband)   is the smaller resort of Mount Norquay, here you may well have the slopes to yourselves This resort feels like a club ski field with one main building for coffee and lunch and little else, but that is really all you need. We hit the slopes with one of the volunteer mountain guides who obviously loves the place. A day is probably enough to see all the groomed runs, two at best but those days will be blissfully crowd-free.

Further away are Kicking Horse and Nakiska. Well worth the longer drive is the vast ski area of Lake Louise. I fall in love with the skiing at Lake Louise, a passion aided by the fact the days are bright and clear and the sky an ice-blue. But also because the high speed gondola whips you up to such a wide variety of runs that even beginners can make it to the top.   

After a day on the slopes it is good to know that the steamy relief of Banff's Upper Hot Springs is only a stroll away from the hotel. Or you could indulge yourself at the hotel's sublime spa.   Better still treat yourself to a meal at Eden, the Rimrock's AAA/CAA Five Diamond, award winning, fine dining restaurant (phew, that's an impressive mouthful), Through the restaurants large bay windows you can see Mount Rundle and the splendour of the Bow Valley spread out on a tasting plate before you.

Talking of tasting plates, Executive Chef Ralf Wollmann's tasting menu is definitely worth a try, offering treats such as Alaskan king crab or pepper-crusted Alberta elk. If you don't want to go gourmet I recommend tucking into an OMG burger in the Larkspur Lounge which I am told is now back on the menu by popular demand after someone carelessly removed it and there was public outcry.

The next morning we watch the pale yellow sun light the tips of the mountains like a flame. The air is cool and clear. Yes, another near-perfect day in the mountains. I'm sorry but I   may be compelled to break into song after all; "Rocky Mountain High"......

Check in: The Rimrock resort Hotel, 300 Mountain Ave, Banff, AB T1L1J2, Canada
Ultimate Luxury:  A Grand View Suite
Most Indulgent Moment: Hot Basalt Stone massage in the spa
Insider Secrets: The Christmas day dinner (with Canadian farm raised turkey) is legendary. House guests only.
The Little Things: Great hot chocolate (hey, that matters when it's cold out)
Junior Luxies: Welcomed but not over indulged
Dress code: Ski gear shouldn't be too new
Dent in the platinum:
Luxury Hotels Link: www.RimRockResort.com
Luxury Ski Links:  Banff-Lake Louise-Sunshine, www.SkibBig3.com 
                                  Alberta ,   www.TravelAlberta.com  
                                 Ski Canada, www.canada.travel/ski
 
Hilary Doling 27/10/10
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