GETTING THERE: Calgary International airport in Alberta is less than an hour and a half from the town of Banff on highway 1 (the trans-Canada). There are shuttle buses that travel from the airport to various local hotels. if you'd rather drive yourself, Avis, Budget, Tilden, and Hertz have rental car offices in both Banff and Calgary. Be aware that there is a national park entry fee of $5 per person per day or $10 per car per day to enter Banff National Park.
WHERE TO STAY: After a long day of skiing, nothing sounds nicer than a relaxing massage under expert hands, and the recently installed $12 million spa, solace, at the Banff Springs Hotel (800-441-1414; $168-$298) is sure to please. Both Banff Springs and the waterfront Chateau Lake Louise (800-441-1414; $162-$259) are part of the prestigious Canadian Pacific Hotels chain. The Post hotel (800-661-1586; $117-$350) is a charming alpine chalet, which offers more intimate accommodations. The Sunshine Inn (877-542-2633; $116-$234) offers on-site lodging at Sunshine Village and provides lift passes for each day of your stay.
WHERE TO EAT: Dubbed "rocky mountain cuisine," the eco-conscious food dished out by the area's upscale eateries is both delicious and nutritious. Homegrown produce, like juniper berries and wild mushrooms, is served with game, such as caribou and buffalo, and the combination is getting a two-forks-up rating. Chateau Lake Louise serves pastry flour derived from ancient grains upon special request. After the grains were recovered from the thatched roofs of old homes in Scotland, Ireland, and England, they were re-bred and harvested as a specialty crop. The chefs use the flours in their VIP vegetarian and vegan breads and pastas, often accompanied by organic produce or cheese from a local dairy farm. The Emerald Lake Lodge (800-663-6336) and the Buffalo Mountain Lodge (800-661-1367), both part of Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts, serve up atlantic salmon and Alberta beef tenderloin paired with Canadian and international wines. To ensure a steady supply of quality game meat, the resort company opened their own game farm in 1998, raising buffalo, elk, and white-tailed deer to be served in their restaurants.
DON'T MISS: White Mountain Adventures (800-408-0005), a local eco-tourism/soft adventure company, offers evening expeditions called night tracks. Equipped with headlamps, visitors follow an interpretive guide on a truly unique expedition through snow-covered forests and along frozen rivers or lakes for an unobstructed view of the star-filled sky and, hopefully, a glimpse of one of nature’s most dazzling displays, the northern lights.
NUMBERS TO KNOW: For maps, brochures, and information requests about accommodations and activities, call the Banff Lake Louise Tourism Bureau at (403) 762-8421 or visit www.banfflakelouise.com.