Romantic Alberta

The “A” stands for amour

By: Kathy Chin Leong


What to See: Colombia Icefield — one of the largest icefields on earth. Maligne Lake, Moraine Lake, Lake Louise — emerald green waters with breathtaking scenery.

What to Do: Bicycle through Jasper National Park. Hike to Lake Agnes Teahouse. Take the elevator to Calgary Tower.

What to Eat: Wild game meats — buffalo, quail, and Alberta prime rib Saskatoon berry — anything: berry pie, berry jam, and other creative concoctions.

What to Buy: Canadian maple-anything — syrup, cookies, sugar. Ammolite jewelry — ammolite, a rainbow-colored shell stone mined commercially only in Southern Alberta

Romantic Alberta A couple’s eyes lock on each other at the Calgary Tower revolving restaurant in Alberta, Canada. They are oblivious to the unique architectural views Alberta’s capital city has to offer, for Cupid’s arrow has struck at 40 stories high.

Romance, sparked by ambiance, is quite common in the Canadian province. From a window table at the Calgary Tower’s Panorama Room to a porch seat at the rustic teahouse above Lake Louise, Alberta is a lovebird’s playground. Here, clients on the hunt for an idyllic honeymoon setting or vow renewal will find their needs met handsomely.

Known as “wild rose country,” Alberta is perched above Montana and proudly touts its claim to panoramic fame with the mighty Canadian Rockies. Further, its emerald, glacial waterways are so brilliant they resemble craters of blue gelatin. Calgary, Edmonton and towns within the Rockies yield top-of-the-line dining, spas and shopping. There are properties for every taste, from comfortable country lodges to high-rise hotels to historic chateaus. A week to 10 days is ample time to absorb the province’s treasures.

While clients often prefer driving on their own, a motorcoach tour from Brewster Vacations, Greyhound Bus Line or Red Arrow Motorcoach is also popular, as is travel by train. An upscale Canadian Rockies rail tour from Rocky Mountaineer Vacations is hailed as one of the world’s most scenic passages.

Calgary, known for its Exhibition and Stampede, is ideal for couples who thrive on shopping and great restaurants. An excellent home base for lodging is the Hyatt Regency Calgary, which also runs the Asian-themed Stillwater Spa, offering an array of treatments and Zen-like relaxation rooms. Located in safe and airy downtown, the Hyatt is walking distance to Stephen Avenue, an outdoor shopping plaza and to Prince’s Island Park, where patrons can eat by the water at the upscale River Cafe.

Calgary’s quaint French-Canadian restaurants also draw visitors. Take Normand’s, aptly named after the cheerful owner, Normand Campbell. Quiet and candlelit, the 18-table Normand’s takes advantage of provincial game meats such as elk, deer and buffalo in generous portions. According to Campbell: “We Canadians like hearty, fresh food.”

Farther west, in Jasper, Lake Louise and Banff, memorable stays and outdoor adventures await. In Jasper, clients can cozy up in fireside chalets at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, the only lodge within Jasper National Park. Once there, couples can cruise to Spirit Island via Maligne Tours or board the Jasper Tramway, the country’s longest aerial tramway.

Nearby, Chateau Lake Louise is the perfect place to stage a fairytale wedding. The stylish Fairview Dining Room is an ideal proposal spot. Canoe excursions on the lake are the stuff of which romance novels are made.

Another adventure is the rugged, four-mile roundtrip hike to the Lake Agnes Tea House from the chateau. It is full of surprises along the trail, including beehive mountains, mirrored lakes and a tiered waterfall.

Less than an hour away from Lake Louise is the Columbia Icefield, the largest icefield south of Alaska, covering 233 square miles. Couples on the Brewster’s Ice Age Adventure can snap a memorable photo together standing on a slab of ice that is 1,000 feet thick. The unique excursion features a specially designed ice explorer with giant tires that maneuvers at a whopping seven miles per hour.

For spa connoisseurs, the historic Banff Springs Hotel is ideal. The hotel’s celebrated Willow Stream Spa is a mega-spa with a series of mosaic-tiled pools that run from hot to cold to stimulate healthy blood circulation. Of note is the co-ed relaxation room with mountain views, replete with healthy treats, drinks, a spa meal menu, deep couches and a fireplace.

Less than five minutes away is the exclusive Eden Restaurant at the Rim Rock Hotel situated near the top of the Banff Springs mountains. Service at this five-star French restaurant is nothing short of magical. Clients are treated like royalty by the professional waitstaff. Each night, the French menu features one-of-a-kind dishes. Patrons can mix and match appetizers, main dishes and desserts for a $90, $130 or $150 dinner. The restaurant carries an extensive wine selection with bottles that cost up to $10,000 each.

With stomachs filled, senses overcome by natural wonders and exquisite hotels, couples will find that Alberta can draw out the romantic in anyone.