Banff was first sold as a travel destination on the strength of its appeal as a summer resort area. Back at the turn of the 20th century, Sir William Cornelius Van Horne was in charge of connecting British Columbia to the rest of Canada by rail. Sensing he was onto a good thing in Banff, he built two luxury hotels along the Canadian Pacific Railway route - the Banff Springs Hotel and the Chateau Lake Louise.

Since the town pretty much shuts down during the winter, no one bothered to capitalize on the sky-scraping peaks and abundant snowfall. After all, Canadians spend most of their time trying to escape the cold, not embrace it. During the winter months, the hotels sat eerily empty with a skeleton staff, like the grand old Overlook hotel Jack Nicholson's character took care of in The Shining.

"When I first arrived at Chateau Lake Louise [a few years ago], you'd spend the evening shifts sitting in an empty lobby just waiting for somebody to come by," says head concierge Jacinta Adams, an Australian who was attracted to Banff by the natural beauty of the area. "The staff would pounce on guests who made their way through the lobby, offering to help them in any way possible."

Aspen, meanwhile, had no doubt about the role of its snowy slopes. By the time the first chairlift was installed in Banff during the1940s, Aspen had already staked its claim as the Rocky Mountain winter destination for the beautiful people.

While Banff may still lack some of the glitz and glamour of the Colorado ski resorts, it's not missing anything in the natural beauty department. Standing at the blustery peak of Lake Louise, 8,765 feet above sea level, with a view of what is possibly the world's most photographed lake, it's not hard to see why the resort was ranked number one for scenery in North America by SKI magazine last year.

"Ironically, some people come here but never go outdoors," says André Fabbri, director of sales for Ski Banff Lake Louise. "They'll have breakfast by the window and look out - that's enough majestic glory for them."

If, on the other hand, you crave your majestic glory at 30 mph, here are three cool places to experience Banff on skis.