By: Lisa van de Geyn
MOUNT ROYAL HOTEL
The Mount Royal on Banff Avenue was originally called the Banff Hotel when it opened in 1908. Back then, it was a red brick building that housed 60 guests. More than 100 years later (and after severe fires that did extensive damage), a $45-million restoration and reconstruction was announced in 2017. Today’s hotel pays homage to its past with historically inspired design, and its modern-day amenities (including a rooftop lounge and outdoor hot tubs) off er guests the ultimate place to unwind aft er a day taking in the mountain air. 138 Banff Avenue
ELK + AVENUE HOTEL
This upscale modern hotel is all about relaxation and comfort. You’ll find spacious suites, lofts and chic standard rooms — all are super cozy and contemporary. The hotel boasts a fabulous restaurant (Farm & Fire) that you’ll want to visit for multiple meals, as well as a jacuzzi and dry sauna. 333 Banff Avenue
FARM & FIRE
There’s nothing complicated about this menu. In fact, Farm & Fire is all about using only the freshest, simplest ingredients that come directly from proud local Albertan farmers. The vibe is chic yet comfortable, and it’s super bright. If you’re in town on a Saturday morning, preorder the “Sold Out” Cinnamon Bun — the house cinnamon rolls with whipped sweet cream cheese are worth the planned trip. 333 Banff Avenue
Inside the Mount Royal Hotel, Brazen is true to its name — it has moody bold decor and an equally bold (and delectable) menu. Honouring the town’s storied history, this spot focuses on sharable plates, reimagined classic dishes and scrumptiously luscious cocktails. Don’t leave without trying the Ginger Beef (Angus beef hanger steak, blistered shishito pepper, onion and ginger syrup), Truffle Parmesan Potatoes with honey butt er and the Garden Tea Party — a bevvy made with Botanist Gin, peach liquor, lemon, ginger kombucha and butterfly pea. 138 Banff Avenue
They call it a dining sanctuary in the sky, but that’s an understatement — it’s truly a bucket-list culinary experience. When you arrive, you’ll take a breathtaking eight-minute gondola ride to the summit of Sulphur Mountain. As you enter the restaurant, you’re greeted by floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing diners to fully take in the expansive scenery. For lunch, try the southern-fried chicken thighs made with tomato chutney, maple drizzle, pickled red onion and served with a buttermilk waffle and honey-mustard aioli. The Smoked Old Fashioned, with Rupert’s Whiskey, Quebec maple and cherry bitters, is a sipper not to miss. 100 Mountain Avenue
“THIS ALPINE TOWN IS THE PERFECT PLACE TO VISIT IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR STUNNING VISTAS, PRISTINE LAKES, COMFORTABLY CHIC LODGING, IMPECCABLE EATS AND FUN ACTIVITIES FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY”.
OPEN TOP TOURING
Climb aboard one of the vintage-inspired open top vehicles (glass or a canvas top is used in inclement weather) and prepare for a 90-minute exploration of the Rockies in style. Not only will you hear captivating stories (courtesy of your expert storyteller guide) about Banff’s history and its townspeople, but you’ll also be surrounded by so many epic photo ops perfect for your Instagram feed.
LAKE MINNEWANKA CRUISE
One of Banff’s most popular tourist spots, this lake is the perfect place to take in the mountain air and spend time on the water. Yes, you can rent a motorboat, canoe or kayak to explore, or buy tickets for the cruise, which includes a guide who provides interesting nuggets about the area. Book the beer cruise if you’re into trying local craft beers.
RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
Meet Scott Hergott, executive chef, Banff Properties, Pursuit Collection.
Q: What’s your favourite thing to do in town when you’re not working?
A: I worked with my roommate to turn a full-sized 40-foot school bus into an RV. I love driving into the mountains and getting time away, cooking with wood and fire and creating great dishes.
Q: Of the four restaurants you’re responsible for in Banff, which one encapsulates your personal vibe?
A: Sky Bistro has always been close to my heart — we did a lot to build it into what it is today. That said, Farm & Fire was my first opportunity with Pursuit to build a restaurant from the ground up. From concept and kitchen renovation to layout and menu development, I was able to create something new, and I’m grateful to be part of it.
Q: You have access to of the most incredible local ingredients when it comes to produce and meat. What does it mean to you as an executive chef to collaborate with local farmers and growers and create farm-to-table menus?
A: At Sky Bistro, we call it “farm to summit,” and to me, it’s vital to us all as chefs. We work very hard to create unique dishes and put our hearts on the plate every day. You can see the same passion when you meet a farmer or producer who lives and breathes their products. The love and attention they put into their work makes the creative process more organic for a chef to create a dish. The products do all the hard work and really make us chefs look great.