Ottawa Citizen

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Getting there:

Air Canada and Westjet offer nonstop flights from Ottawa to Calgary. Banff is 140 kilometres west of Calgary’s airport. If you rent a car and drive from the airport, take Airport Trail Northeast and turn left at Deerfoot Trail/Highway 2 South. Continue for eight kilometres, then take Exit 258 and turn right onto 16th Avenue Northwest/Highway 1 West/Trans-Canada Highway West. Drive 122 kilometres to the first exit for Banff, onto Banff Avenue, to reach the town centre. WHERE TO STAY Fairmont Banff Springs:

Five-star, 778room castle befitting a fairytale holiday, just a 10-minute walk from downtown Banff. Boasts a top-rated golf course, Willow Stream Spa, several fine and casual dining options and a 24-hour gourmet food shop. Rates start at about $259 for rooms and $449 for suites, and up to $2,000 a night for the presidenti­al suite. 1-403-762-2211 or www.fairmont.com/banffsprin­gs Fox Hotel & Suites:

Opened in 2007, Banff’s newest hotel offers cosy, country-style rooms starting at about $129 and suites with “kitchen nooks” (small fridge, sink, microwave and toaster) starting at about $174 a night. Warm up at its grotto-like hot pool, inspired by the Cave and Basin Hot Springs, or cool down at the margarita bar at its Chili’s Restaurant. 1-800-661-8310 or www.bestofbanf­f.com/fox Douglas Fir Resort & Chalets:

Simple rustic charm in a quiet mountain setting, five minutes from downtown Banff. Rooms, condo lofts and stand-alone A-frame chalets, all with fully-equipped kitchens, start at $134 to $206 a night. Amenities include fitness room, pool with new waterslide­s, saunas and whirlpool baths, multi-level indoor play zone, outdoor tennis and basketball courts, and barbecue stations. 1-800-661-9267 or www.douglasfir.com WHERE TO EAT Three Ravens Restaurant:

The Banff Centre’s haute-cuisine restaurant isn’t an obvious dining choice, but the exquisite food, impeccable service and incredible panoramic view of the Rockies make it well worth a visit. 1-403762-6300 or www.banffcentr­e.ca/conference­s/visitor/food_outlets.asp

Bison Mountain Bistro & General Store: Two-level eatery, with a deli and gourmet food counter on the main floor and upscale-casual restaurant and lounge upstairs. Serves contempora­ry Canadian fare, featuring an abundance of local, organic ingredient­s. 1-403-762-5550 or www.thebison.ca Coyotes Deli & Grill:

Healthy and hearty southweste­rn-inspired meals in a cosy and casual atmosphere. Known for its terrific breakfasts; serves lunch and dinner. 1-403-7623963 or www.coyotesban­ff.com Wild Flour Artisan Bakery:

Gourmet organic breads, soups, salads and pastries at reasonable prices. Great place to grab lunch or a coffee and snacks. 1-403-760-5074 or www.wildflourb­akery.ca WHAT TO DO Banff Centre:

World-class art and culture venue, showcasing opera, dance, live and puppet theatre, and much more. Also doubles as Banff’s community centre, offering indoor sports and activities for a minimal charge. 1-403-762-6100 or www.banffcentr­e.ca Willow Stream Spa:

Get pampered like royalty at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel’s spa. Services range in price from a beard trim ($15) to the 120-minute Ritual of Two couples’ massage ($559). 1-403-762-1772 or www.willowstre­am.com/banff Banff Upper Hot Springs:

Relax sore muscles or relieve arthritis pain in Banff’s mineral-rich hot springs, open year-round. Summer hours are 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Admission is $7.30 for adults, $6.30 for children and seniors. Swimsuits, towels and lockers can be rented on-site for less than $2. 1-403-762-1515 or www.hotsprings.ca Banff Gondola:

Take in the 360-degree view of Banff and its surroundin­gs as you zip up to the top of Sulphur Mountain. Admission is $26 for adults, $13 for children ages six to 15. Open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. in summer. 1-403-762-2523 or www.banffgondo­la.com More:

www.banfflakel­ouise.com, banffnatio­nalpark.com and www.banff.ca

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