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whistler vs banff?????

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I am planning a trip this summer for myself, husband and 8 year old daughter and trying to decide between Whistler and Banff. We like light hikes, beautiful scenery, and a lovely hotel. First instinct is to stay at one of the Fairmont hotels but having read a few reviews not so sure. We really like CLUB LEVEL options for quick bites to eat. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

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    Banff National Park is huge. In order to do any kind of justice to the area, you have to spend a fair amount of time driving. If you spend enough time around your hotel to be able to take advantage of club level snacks, there is a mismatch between traveller and destination, in my opinion.

    Whistler is a destination where the hiking and the other activities can be enjoyed within a smaller radius than is the case in Banff. Therefore, if I've understood your post correctly, I think you would enjoy Whistler more than Banff.

    But I am not a guru on Whistler accommodation. So, if you do decide on Whistler, I'll leave it to others to advise you about accommodation.

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    After I’d posted my last message, ozhen4, I followed your name to find if you’d posted other messages at Fodor’s. I often do that before I answer a person’s question, because it sometimes provides me with more context. In this case it would have helped if I’d done that BEFORE responding to you. Now that I’ve found your posts in the Caribbean forum, I think I understand what you’re hoping to find.

    If you’re going to visit Whistler or the Canadian Rockies, I think it’ll help you if you change your mindset. You’re not going to find the Caribbean in British Columbia or Alberta. I have not been to the Caribbean but, since it’s tropical, I assume it is not unlike Port Douglas and the Whitsunday Islands. (I assume from your forum name that you're Australian.)

    When we visited Port Douglas we alternated between excursions and lazing around. On one day we went out to the Great Barrier Reef. On the next day we lounged. The day after that we went on a day trip to the Daintree Forest. Then we had another lazy day. And so on. On another occasion we did a cruise around the Whitsundays in a sailing boat. We went snorkeling in coral reefs and did the odd hike on an island. But lots of our time was spent swimming, sun tanning, and relaxing.

    In the circumstances that I’ve described, it’s nice to be able to get a drink or a snack whenever you feel like it.

    But the Rockies are not like that at all. Even Whistler is not like that. I don’t know how to describe Western Canada’s mountains. I can’t say Whistler and Banff are like Wentworth and Katoomba, because Western Canada’s mountains are much higher than the Blue Mountains, they’re convered in coniferous forests rather than eucalyptus trees, and so on. But at least Katoomba is a closer analogy than Port Douglas.

    Neither the Rockies nor Whistler lend themselves to lounging and swimming in the way that a tropical beach resort does. For one thing, the weather is incredibly variable in the Rockies. The average day time high in summer is 20 deg C, but the average night time low is 7 deg C. Besides that, the averages don’t tell you the whole story. You could experience temperatures as high as 30 deg C, but you also could get temperatures around the freezing mark, even in July and August. The temperature can change by tens of degrees over the course of a day. Whistler tends to be a bit warmer than the Rockies in summer, but even there there are no guarantees.

    For another thing, the whole set up lends itself to being out and about, hiking, viewing (icy cold) lakes, waterfalls and glaciers, and that sort of thing. It does not lend itself to lying next to a pool.

    Your question made me curious about the club level thing in the Rockies. I phoned the Rimrock Resort Hotel in Banff and asked them if they had a level of service that included complimentary snacks. They said they did not. They had 24-hour room service, and their rooms had mini-bars that had snacks in them (chips, cookies and chocolate bars), but they did not have snacks set out all day.

    An Internet search revealed that the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise had a Gold Floor that included a complimentary continental breakfast and complimentary cocktail hour canapés. But is it worth selecting a hotel on the basis that it includes a complimentary continental breakfast and complimentary cocktail hour canapés in its price? I personally do not think so. I’m not saying you should not stay at Chateau Lake Louise. I’m just saying that its Gold Floor would not tip the balance either way for me.

    A search of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel’s website did not bring to light a Gold Floor or Club Level or anything of that nature.

    An Internet search also brought to light a Gold Floor at Fairmont Chateau Whistler. However, for a luxury hotel I thought it got somewhat mixed reviews at TripAdvisor. And a couple of the TripAdvisor reviewers said that, in hindsight, they thought they would have been better off in a more central location with respect to Whistler Village, e.g., the Pan Pacific.

    Anyway, I hope this explanation has helped you to form a more accurate picture of what a mountain vacation is like. If you DO know what it’s like to stay in mountains and you’re still looking for club level accommodations, then I guess we’re back at Square One.

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