Sunday, May 20, 2007
The Fairmont Banff Springs is "Canada's Castle in the Rockies" and a world-renowned symbol of Canadian hospitality. William Van Horne, General Manager of Canadian Pacific Railways, is credited with recognizing the tourist potential of the hot springs near the station of Banff. His vision was fueled by the philosophy "If we can't export the scenery, we will import the tourists" and thus began the campaign to design a luxury hotel amidst the beautiful mountain scenery of the Canadian Rockies. To travel there, the visitors would naturally arrive via the Canadian Pacific Railway, and Van Horne proposed the establishment of a series of luxury hotels along the railway line through the Rocky and Selkirk Mountains.
In 1886, Van Horne commissioned Bruce Price of New York, one of the foremost architects of the day, to draw up plans for a hotel to be built above the confluence of the Bow and the Spray Rivers overlooking the beautiful Bow Valley. Construction started in the spring of 1887 and the hotel officially opened on June 1, 1888.
The Fairmont Banff Springs was finished in 1928 and over the years has been lovingly maintained and restored to retain its original grandeur. The furniture for the hotel was made by Castle & Son Manufacturing of Montreal, and the pieces are exact replicas of original designs from European castles and manor houses. The Fairmont Banff Springs has been open year round since 1969, and since that time, all the rooms have been remodeled, as have the swimming pool and health facilities. The Fairmont Banff Springs continues to follow Van Horne's dictum of dynamic expansion and excellence. Offering something for vacationers and business visitors alike, it also endures as a meeting place for the world's fashionable and wealthy. On March 22, 1992, The Fairmont Banff Springs was declared a historical site by the Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.