Castle therapy

Seeking wellness in the wilderness

T&C Eye Candy / Photo by Chris Amat courtesy Fairmont Banff Springs

By Kim Gray

I’m floating peacefully on my back in a salt water mineral pool and contemplating wellness in the context of travel.

In my world, travel has always been about well-being — even when I’m not soaking in a soothing sea of 60 essential minerals designed to nourish, detoxify and rebalance my body.

There’s the excitement of trip planning, followed by the joy of a new adventure and then, in an ideal world, the positive memories that follow.

On this occasion, and with wellness in mind (pandemic times have impacted us all), I’m with my husband at the historic Fairmont Banff Springs — a hotel that encourages its own style of healthy living among guests from around Canada and elsewhere.

“We like to offer sips of wellness wherever you turn,” says Willow Stream Spa director Pam Ouellet. “We provide treatments that aim to restore and maintain balance in your body and spirit, but the hotel also offers resort activities, fitness programs and even virtual yoga that you can do from your room.”

Well-being, according to Toronto’s Anne Dimon (president and CEO of the Wellness Tourism Association), is top of mind as people begin to travel again. If the pandemic has spawned one positive thing, says Dimon, it’s that people everywhere are embracing the age-old adage that “the greatest wealth is health.” I couldn’t agree more.

During our two-night stay, my husband and I hike to the top of Sulphur Mountain, explore nearby nature trails and travel through the town of Banff on comfortable bicycles with the hotel’s knowledgeable lead guide.

We enjoy food experiences to write home about at the Waldhaus Restaurant (a Bavarian feast accompanied by giant mugs of beer), Grapes Wine Bar (cozy and romantic), Afternoon Tea (a 133-year-old tradition) and the extraordinary 360° Dome (a private outdoor dining venue.)

And we cocoon in the privacy of a room with an exceptional view, one that features a tall window that doubles as living art with nature as its canvas. Magnificent mountains all around. Ever-changing natural light. The turquoise Bow River down below.

In the end, our mini mountain vacation, which includes a rejuvenating session of waterfall therapy (yes, it’s a thing and it’s wonderful), doesn’t disappoint.

What’s more, it provides what a worldly friend insists is an essential ingredient to all wellness travel: the chance to be apart from the day to day and get a little perspective on life.


Editor’s note: Our writer was a guest of the Fairmont Banff Springs. This story was not reviewed or edited by the hotel before publication.

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  1. Lorna Crozier commented:

    Oh, Kim, your piece put me right under that waterfall and in that mineral pool. I’ve always loved that castle in the mountains but didn’t know until now that along with one of the best views in the world from the windows, a guest could wallow in such healthful activities, hopefully with a glass of wine on the side.


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