Good morning everyone, it’s Jill here! Today on the blog, we are continuing the coverage of Shay’s birthday month! LOL! If you read Shay’s 30th Soirée blog this morning, you know that she has really been through it all with me over the last 8 years. So for over a year now, I have been dreaming up the ultimate 30th birthday celebration for her… but COVID had other plans!
A month or two before her 30th, I overheard Shay mentioning that she wanted to go on a road trip with her fiance, Cam! At that moment, I got on the phone with my good friends from Travel Alberta to see if they would be willing to host Shay for a little birthday getaway! Originally the team reached out to see if they could host Justin and I, but we were maxed out on travelling for the time being, but I knew that this would be an amazing opportunity to have Shay from Team Jilly partner up with them instead for her 30th!
One thing you should know about Shay is she rarely ever takes her vacation days, so when they said they were over the moon to host her I was ecstatic that she would get to unplug (mind you she did have to take a few photos while she was there!) with Cam and her best friend Holly and Brody. Since I didn’t go on the trip I am going to let Shay take it away and share her full itinerary with you!!
Hi Guys, Shay here!! One of my favourite things to do before Covid was to TRAVEL (although I must say, it has been so nice hunkering down at home). Alas, all of my travel plans for the year came to a halt as soon as March hit. I had so many great trips planned and was even supposed to be headed to Greece with my Mom for my 30th Birthday (her 65th) at the end of September. Since that didn’t get to happen, I still wanted to get away and explore somewhere that I COULD travel to. I really wanted to go somewhere that was new for me, not too far, with lots of beautiful outdoor activities so that Moose could come. I was SO pleasantly surprised by Jillian and Travel Alberta, who came up with the most epic 5 -day itinerary I could have ever imagined. I was so spoiled and can’t wait to bring you along through all of the must-stops in Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper. Let’s get to it!
I want to quickly note that all of the places we went to had extremely strict Covid precautions. Our temperature was taken either while in the car, before entering the hotel, right inside the lobby or stores before proceeding. Masks and the use of hand sanitizers were mandatory in all public areas, and everywhere we went, we were asked a list of questions to ensure no-one was sick and that no-one got sick. You can call the hotel in advance and ask them for their protocols if you’re unsure!
DAY 1: Travel to Banff from Kelowna
I want to start things off by saying Fall is truly my favourite time of year to travel. The colours of the trees along the drive are spectacular, everywhere is less busy, there aren’t as many lines or crowds, and the weather is always so crisp and fresh. The first stop of our trip was The Fairmont Banff Springs. It has to be one of the most beautiful hotels in the world. I’ve only ever driven through Banff and have always starred at it perched up on the hill in awe of how beautiful it is. It doesn’t even feel like you’re in Canada; it’s so grand and picturesque. Our first night’s dinner was at the Waldhaus, which is a German restaurant right on the property tucked away amongst the Rockies. The food was absolutely amazing, and the atmosphere was incredible. We watched Elk walk through the field below us right as the sun was setting … it was magical, to say the least.
DAY 2: BANFF
We were up bright and early to beat the rush and lines at the Banff Gondola. We loved seeing Banff from this perspective, and I would definitely recommend taking the gondola to the top if you have a few hours to spare!! If you’re feeling active, you can even hike up (I think it takes a few hours!). We were then off to High Tea, which is a 132-year-old tradition in the Castle at the Rundle Bar in the Fairmont Banff Springs. This may have been the highlight of our weekend. We tried all sorts of different loose leaf teas that are part of the Lot Collection at the Fairmont, and we indulged in finger foods and canapes. Once we were full of tea, we headed out to Tunnel Mountain for a hike and couldn’t believe the beautiful views from every single path we took. We then explored the town and were extremely impressed with all of the Covid protocols that they had in place. It was then back to the Fairmont for dinner at the Vermillion Room, which was absolutely amazing! The meal and atmosphere were unforgettable, and we had so much fun – highly recommend!
DAY 3: BANFF
We headed into Canmore for breakfast and to explore the town, as so many people recommended it! We enjoyed a patio breakfast, and then Holly and I were then off to the spa at the Fairmont for the afternoon while Cam and Brody went golfing at the Banff Springs Golf Club. Needless to say, we all spent the afternoon exactly how we wanted to LOL!!! Holly and Brody then hit the road back to Penticton, and Cam and I were off to Lake Louise!
Cam and I enjoyed the most amazing dinner and drinks at the Fairview Bar & Dining Room at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise upon arrival. We were in a one bedroom suite which was EXTREMELY dog friendly, we were blown away! This is definitely one of my favourite hotels to visit at all times of the year, if you’re a skiier I recommend trying it in the winter.
DAY 4: LAKE LOUISE
If you’ve never been to Lake Louise before you MUST go!! The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is also spectacular. I think it is one of my favourite places on earth (that’s a bold statement, I know!). Lake Louise is one of those places that pictures do not do it justice … if you can believe it, it’s even more beautiful in real life! We were up bright and early to shoot with Robin from Flytographer. He was so awesome, and we had lots of fun shooting around the lake. If you are wanting memories from your vacation, I highly recommend booking with them for an hour! You can use code shay50 for $50 off until the end of the year (December 31st, 2020). Sadly the smoke started to roll in on this day, so everything was hazy (apparently, it cleared up a few days after we were there). We really wanted to get a hike at Moraine Lake in, but we just couldn’t fit it into our schedule. If you have the time I recommend looking into this! Instead, we canoed around the lake, which was so hilarious and lots of fun. There is nothing more testing on a relationship than doing a dual-sport together LOL!! It is definitely worth it though!
Then we were off to Jasper through the Icefields Parkway. I HIGHLY recommend taking this route if you can. We downloaded the Gypsy Guide Icefields app that took us on a tour along the drive and it talked about the highlights of each area and each glacier and the history behind the area. It almost felt like we were on a ride at Disneyland!
DAY 5: JASPER
Jasper was the PERFECT way to end our magical trip. The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is tucked away amongst the woods, with little cabins that are SO cozy, quiet, and quaint. I thoroughly enjoyed living in my sweatsuit for more than half the day. We went on a wilderness walk around the lake, checked out the golf course, and then headed into town to check out a few cafes and shops. The rain put a bit of a damper on our champagne picnic plans and canoeing around the lake, but it gave us every excuse to just chill out inside instead (I wasn’t complaining)!
DAY 6: JASPER TO KELOWNA
I was blown away by how many elk were wandering around in Jasper, including right in front of the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. We even watched a male elk bugling for the ladies (apparently it was mating season) while we were driving through the National Park … it was incredible to see! Regardless, these cozy cabins were the perfect way to end the most magical birthday trip and getting to check out 3 different cities that I’ve never had the chance to explore. I can’t pick a favourite (I know some of you might ask) because they are all SO different and have different experiences to offer!
Well, there you have it! I wish I could rewind and start back at Day 1 all over again! Until then, I will just keep dreaming of the Fairmont beds until I meet one again, LOL!
Let me know if you have any questions or need any other recommendations in the comments below!