HISTORY OF BANFF SPRINGS HOTEL
|Banff National Park is Canada’s oldest national park,
established in 1885 and the second national park in North America, after
Yellowstone National Park. Located west of Calgary, Alberta, Banff
National Park encompasses 6,641 sq. km (2,564 sq mi). The Canada Pacific
Railway was the catalyst to Banff’s early years, building the Banff
Springs Hotel in order to gain an increase in rail passengers. Today, The Fairmont Banff Springs is an internationally recognized
symbol of Canadian hospitality. William Cornelius Van Horne, appointed
general manager of Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) has been credited with
recognizing the tourism potential of the Canadian west.
Van Horne hired Bruce Price of New York, one of the leading architects of the time to build the Banff Springs Hotel. Price's buildings displayed important characteristics of Late Victorian architecture and the visually clean, striking and exciting style
|became so significant throughout the early 1900's that it
became the focal point of Canadian architecture until the beginning of
the second world war. His work was so influential that the château style
was the only acceptable architectural method for government structures
at the time. With Price heading the project, construction of the Banff
Springs Hotel began in the spring of 1887 and the hotel publicly opened
in the early summer of 1888.
Banff’s winter tourism began in February of 1917 with the inaugural Banff Winter Carnival. It was further established when, in the 30s, the Brewster family built the Sunshine Village and the Mount Norquay ski area. In 1948 the first chair lift was installed.
|Disaster struck the hotel in 1926 when the original
wooden structure burnt down. However, the 1928 rebuilt was larger and
reflected its present appearance.
The 1930’s saw a growth in members of high society, including heads of states and actors visiting the hotel for photo opportunities organized to promote the persona or place needing
|exposure. The likes of Helen Keller, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited the hotel and Benny Goodman was influentialin Banff obtaining a landing strip, as he wanted to stay at the hotel but could only do so if there was an area to land his plane. Stanley Thompson, a world recognized golf course designer was selected to construct the world's greatest mountain golf course.|
|By 1940 the effect of World War II had
reached the hotel. War meant monetary and travel restrictions of North
American vacationers and European investment was completely lost. By
1942, the hotel had closed its doors and with it the greatest era in the
hotel's rich history. It wasn't until 1945 that the hotel re-opened.
Through the 1950's and 60's the hotel struggled to reclaim the success it had seen before the war. The hotel went through a significant change, adapting to the economics of the time and catering to clientele involved in train tours.
| The Second World War and the consequent economic boom resulted in Canadians having
more financial freedom. While still attracting traditional guests from
the past, the Banff Springs Hotel found a high percentage of its revenue
resulted from short-stay tour-scheduled guests.
By the mid-60's, the hotel was predominantly providing service to conferences, bus excursions and families with automobiles. In 1968 the hotel was winterized and Banff became a year-round destination. As well, the 1960’s saw the addition of the Trans-Canada Highway and the development of Calgary International Airport making the park and the destination more accessible to tourists.
By the 1970's the hotel had reached a pivotal point, for the first time the Banff Springs Hotel would remain open for the winter season and the hotel would move away from its seasonal past to becoming a resort destination open all year. Targeted marketing campaigns were thrust into foreign markets, especially Japan. The hotel changed itself in order to increase its volume market, focusing more on tours as opposed to independent guests.
The 1980's brought expansion and renovation back to the hotel. The developed Manor wing was opened to help accommodate the expected overflow of visitors to the region stemming from the 1988 Winter Olympics hosted by Calgary. At the same time, the hotel added nine extra playing holes to its internationally renowned Stanley Thompson golf course.
Today The Fairmont Banff Springs continues to deliver the service and excellence expected while still exhibiting the growth and adaptability that has been so common in the history of the hotel. Providing guests and visitors with an unparalleled attention to quality of service, the hotel meets the demands of sightseer and causal tourist, to business visitors and prominent members of society.
Fairmont Banff Springs 125th Anniversary Celebrations