There’s something to be said for doing nothing when you travel. So much of the itinerary is made up of sights, that you rarely budget for time to do .. nothing.
One of my favourite afternoons visiting Morocco was time I spent with a friend and her mom sneaking in to a hotel in Marrakech so we could sit by their pool and go for a swim. We weren’t guests, but we pretended to be and got away from the endless kasbah and soukh tours by sitting in the sun.
Same in Thailand. After 10 days of Chao Praya cruising, riding elephants, taking cooking lessons, and visiting temples, a day by a pool in Krabi was the best.And so it follows that on our recent long weekend escape to the Icefields Parkway the highlight of my trip would be the 3 hours we spent on the grassy banks of Lac Beauvert at the Jasper Park Lodge.
The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge has a firmly embedded place in the history of tourism in the Canadian Rockies. Its legacy began in 1915, originally called “Tent City,” it consisted of ten large tents located on the shores of Lac Beauvert, each with wooden floors and walls. There was also a main dining tent that turned into a social area in the evening for guests to play cards and visit.
The tents are gone, but the property is still scattered with low rise bungalow cabins. You’d be forgiven for thinking you’d just entered a boy scout camp instead of a Fairmont property when you come up the main drive. The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is scattered with 84 cabins combining for 446 rooms on their 700-acres site. It’s rustic, it’s elegant, it’s royal. Queen Elizabeth and Queen Elizabeth II have both stayed here in Outlook Cabin, the Royal’s Retreat.
The plan was to visit for lunch, and maybe go for a swim in their pool. Instead we just did .. nothing.
I love lounging in grand hotel lobbies. The high ceilings, the tangle of foreign languages, the over sized chairs and couches surrounding tables that are entirely too low, and yet perfect.
The JPL lobby also has a few very long wooden tables set out overlooking Lac Beauvert.
We grabbed one of those easily giving the boys enough room to spread out and play LEGO while I reminisced of a visit to the Fairmont in Bermuda with a Dark and Stormy while my wife had a glass of wine.
Lunch came and I was in no hurry to have the boys put their toys away and eat. We were just making a day trip to the JPL, but there was just something that begged you to linger. Relax. And let the world slip by.
We skipped the swim. We didn’t rent the bikes. We didn’t walk around the lake. Had I brought my golf clubs, I could have been easily persuaded to play The Jasper Park Lodge Golf Club, rated the best course in the province and 4th best in the country. But I didn’t. So we did .. not much of anything.
My wife chose to recline in an Adirondack chair, while I took the boys for a canoe across the lake.
When we returned, she was satisfied to keep reading her Kobo while I wandered the edge with my boys petting fish.
Yes, petting fish. The trout in the lake are completely friendly. They would hide in the shallows and actually appreciated the back rub in the same way a cat, or a dog would.
I reclined on the tightly trimmed lawn, hands behind my head, soaking up the mid spring sun.
The boys played with the fish. My wife read.
We were in full vacation mode in the midst of a quick daytrip to visit Jasper. It was perfect and I wish we had been staying onsite. I could have spent an entire weekend like that. Instead, I ushered everyone along as the afternoon ended, so eager to explore Maligne Canyon, before dinner.
I can’t wait to go back and .. .. do nothing.
The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is celebrating with a 100th anniversary contest that wanna-be guests can enter to win an opportunity to stay at the lodge for $.25 cents a night. That was the price in 1915, when Tent City offered the best bed in the park. Phone 1-866-540-4454 for details, or to reserve.
Disclosure: We were guests of the Jasper Park Lodge for lunch.