BANFF - You want to go to Banff, but you don’t want the hustle and bustle of a city. That is, after all, why you are going to Banff.
The solution? The Juniper Hotel and Bistro.
The best of both worlds, the Juniper is located only minutes from the lively town of Banff. But it sits by itself, on the outskirts of town, just off the highway. (If you are heading west on the highway, go right, toward Norquay, instead of left, at the second Banff exit off the highway.)
One of the Charming Inns of Alberta, the boutique-style hotel offers 50 rooms, plus two chalets, various meeting rooms and a spacious outdoor patio, landscaped with a bright and beautiful array of native wildflowers and bushes.
Built by modernist architect John Cawston in the 1950s, the hotel — then known as the Timberline — was renamed and modernized in the mid-2000s. Many of the renovations involve reclaimed materials. For instance, the gorgeous mosaic entranceway floor comes from the former penthouse patio, and reclaimed hardwood floors in some rooms mean staff can offer pet-friendly rooms, too.
Then there are those incredible mountain views, a photo opportunity from every angle. The Juniper offers travellers a stylish, comfortable home base with a view, perfect for checking out Banff Park’s many festivals.
One festival to consider: The Banff Summer Arts Festival is on now through August 2013. Most events take place at the Banff Centre, and there are concerts, dance performances and literary events almost every day of the week. A few highlights include Feist (Aug. 7), Mikhail Baryshnikov in conversation with Ian Brown (July 27), Romeo and Juliet (July 27) and Backbone Indigenous Dance (Aug. 23 and 24). Check out banffcentre.ca for a full list of events.
Then there’s the Banff Mountain Book and Film Festival (Oct. 26 to Nov. 3.) The creators of the world’s best movies and books about the mountains are the stars at this nine-day annual festival. You don’t have to be an adrenalin junkie to attend, however; you can live vicariously through the action-packed tales of the world’s finest extreme skiers, rock climbers and more.
You’ll find plenty of art in Banff, too. Exposure: Calgary Banff Canmore Photography Festival takes place throughout all of February 2014. The show’s mandate is to include as many people and venues as possible; artists, educators and the people behind public and private art galleries make it happen.
Perhaps you feel the need for speed. Then consider signing up for the RBC GranFondo Banff on Aug. 24. The 142-kilometre race is for riders of all levels, from beginners to advanced, and this year marks the second time a gran fondo has taken place in Banff. Expect tons of fun, tons of Spandex and, well, tons of very fit people riding bikes.
But you don’t have to sign up for the gran fondo to go for a ride around Banff. There are many trails around the Juniper, and, if you need a tune-up, there’s an on-site bike station, to help get your wheels road-ready.
After a day of adventures, head back to the Juniper for dinner on the patio, or at one of the beautifully appointed indoor tables overlooking the vast mountain vista. The culinary team focuses on regional ingredients; highlights include Alberta beef, salmon from British Columbia and options for vegetarians, too. The hotel even has a rooftop garden, where the restaurant crew grows strawberries — and the bears can’t get them.
Indeed, don’t forget your camera. Wildlife — elk, deer, even occasionally bears — have been known to wander across the property. Maybe you’ll see one if you stop to enjoy a glass of wine at the Juniper bar — made from reclaimed wood from a Second World War airplane hangar in Fort Macleod, Alberta. And strike up a conversation with the fellow behind the bar, or your friendly server. After all, there are stories and adventures to be found around every corner here.