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Christmas in November 2010 at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge

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Day One: You’d better watch out… better not pout, better not cry, I’m telling you why….

Monday morning at 10:30 and here I am. Right on time. Woops! Look at all those bags already!

The Monday after mom and dad’s 60th wedding anniversary (yet to be posted) I am up, packed and wagging my tail. Christmas in November at Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge: here I come!

Vanja is my champion. I could hardly move after the activities of the weekend. He practically packed for me, and here he is, getting ready to check me in.

I decided to take one of the three buses arranged through CIN (Christmas in November) from the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald downtown. Too tired to drive and at this time of year there could be a massive snowstorm on the day I need to drive home. Luggage added to the line. Friendly check in faces! These people all came down from JPL to check us in today!

Coffee! I needed some! One of my favourite room in the hotel is this one. It was set up with muffins and coffee for the waiting crowd.

I found a table with an empty chair and joined them. An older group than I expected, but quite a mix, really. One man. I was feeling really sad that mom wasn’t with me. What a perfect opportunity for some time together. And dad, too. He could enjoy the meals and bring the dog and go for walks. There were many sisters and mother daughter combinations here.

Bag lunches were passes out for the bus ride to Jasper. Hmmm. What do we have here? Breakfast first, then lunch!

The first bus had left and I lined up for the second. Front seat would be nice. Diane, my new best friend, saw me standing all alone and asked to take my photo. I was delighted! Then I met Tracy and Natalie, standing with me, below.

Here is Diane’s group! There are actually 8 of the “Ladies in Red” all wearing the same scarves attending together. Was that a flask rattling in a bag? Oh, no! Not a flask. Bottles of booze. Bottles. These gals were ready to party!

Through the kindness of Diane, again, I was able to sit beside her in the front of the bus. Lucky me! Motion sickness avoided and camera propped ready for the road trip! Mr. Robin, our bus driver was warm, welcoming and very funny!

I love our Alberta prairies and parkland. What a beautiful country we live in.

Look at the train! Look at the train!! I could not resist taking a photo of the Canadian National Railway. Yesterday was “Spike Day”: the anniversary of the day the last spike was driven into the building of the railroad 125 years ago that brought this country together East to West. And this is the first time I have ever seen graffiti on a Canadian train! OUCH!

The well known half way point between Edmonton and Jasper. We will be stopping to stretch our legs and give our driver a bit of a rest.

Tim Horton’s is our famous Canadian coffee shop and lunch bar. Many came out with this highly acclaimed coffee.

And, on the road again, but this time joined by Eric, a JPL representative. This is pampering at its nth degree!

Eric welcomed us, then started us off with a scavenger hunt and a questionnaire. The highest scores got a VIP ribbon and executive service: first off the bus! Then, he passed out our room assignments and keys. This entire process has been exceptionally well thought out. Imagine having your key in your hand before you arrive at your hotel!

I’m the first one to see the mountains! The excitement never leaves me. The miracle of these mountains and their beauty is always fresh and new and energizing.

Look ahead. Traffic jam! When this happens in the National Park, you know there is wildlife! No one is in a rush. This is why we have come to the mountains. What is it?

Mountain sheep: big horns. I have never seen so many animals on the highway at once in my life. Ever. This was very unexpected and incredible. They meandered in and around and through the cars from once side to the other then down the road and back.

We all thanked Mr. Robin and Eric for such outstanding entertainment enroute.

I love our National Parks: we just passed a sign earlier with a moose head on it. This one has a wolf. Protect our animals.

My new best friend, Natalie, won a VIP pass! And so did another pair in her group. These “Ladies in Red” had it goin’ on!

Here already? Yes we are! Diane was a very interesting travel companion and I enjoyed our conversation so much. Time flew.

The familiar little bridge, and then 2 minutes down the road.

No one could believe it: Santa at the gate!!!!

He certainly set the tone of the trip and had us singing along as we entered the hotel grounds. I was in THE mood!

Look at this beautiful location. Jasper Park Lodge is gorgeous all year round. You can begin to see why, here.

Off the bus, the VIP’s just flipped by two familiar faces standing and smiling at us all. “Hello! How are you!” “Wonderful, did you have a good trip?” “I certainly did! Thank you for your warm welcome! May I take your picture?” “Absolutely!”

And no one else stopped. All trekking in too eager to check in. I almost felt badly for my favourite Canadian Sweetheart: Anna Olsen and her husband, Michael. She is more beautiful in person. Flawless. Gorgeous.

With the same warmth and complete lack of pretense, Michael Smith was holding the door for every one of us with a cheery Christmas greeting. Much taller than I imagined.

The welcoming whirl wind was not over. Upon entering, to the left there were baskets upon baskets of cookies. You could decorate your own! To the right, Santa’s little elf was offering hot chocolate with all the fixin’s. There was a warm flurry of activity as so many little elves greeted each of us with a cookie and a smile.

And then the Olsen’s happened by again, and asked me if they could have their picture with me. Of course, I said yes! How kind they were! I cannot wait for my session with them tomorrow!

As I was leaving, it was just me, Michael Smith and a JPL representative who kindly took my photo while I assisted in the door opening!

Here is my room: one of the apartments in this cottage right next door to the main lodge.

There it is from my doorstep. Gorgeous bed. Perfect room.

A bottle of Cedar Creek wine waiting, with a gift of Rocky Mountain Candy Cane Soap.

I freshened up, turned around, and was back out again to pick up my registration package.

And take a sip of that hot chocolate. Crowds were gone. I was almost the only one there. Santa’s elf, and me.

The grand hall and restaurant were ready for the “casual” stationed dinner set up with five menus featuring each new tea created in celebration of the new Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge Spa that opened only days ago at the beginning of the month.

Back home. My registration package: magazines, remembers and reminders.

A half hour to rest before the Christmas in November 2010 Spa Welcome Reception: “œHealth & Wellness” at 6:30. Rest time!

Beavie is still in my suitcase! I am such an irresponsible pet owner!

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About Valerie Lugonja

Educator, Writer, Gardener and Traveler who believes in buying and eating locally, and most importantly cooking at home!

Join The Conversation!

  1. Wow, Valerie! I would love to visit The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge-it sounds so wonderful and very Northern, which really toots my horn (smile). I’m kind of getting over the tropics if you know what I mean…
    Oh, and my favorite here is the goats on the highway. When nature presents itself in that way it is always so awesome! Lovely…

  2. Oh my Oh my Oh my I think I am there – you describe it so beautifully I really feel like I am.:) Dad sat & we went through it together ( my third time) he said that is fabulous- they should have you for their marketing manager.:) Thanks-

  3. I love how you travel Val. I can just sit here at home in my big ole la-z-boy chair and it’s like I’m right there with you! It all looks absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing your memories with me.
    Have fun!!

    Love you! Judy OXOX

  4. hi Valerie,

    you’ve definitely captured the beauty of the mountains in this post. i’m like you, everytime i visit Jasper or Banff, i get all excited at the first sight of mountains. i love those two pictures with the mountain sheeps and the mountains in the background.

    how cool that Santa greeted you guys at the gates. Christmas is a huge holiday for us as K is a Christmas eve baby. best Christmas present anyone could ask for.

    i don’t think you mentioned in your post how many days you’re there for. anyways, hope you get really pampered. can’t wait to read the rest of your trip. don’t be bringing any booze back in your bag…lol ;-) have fun!!!!!!

  5. Oooh this was wonderful, and so many pictures! I smiled my whole way through the post. I feel so incredibly blessed to live so close to the mountains, and it sounds like this was a fabulous way to go. I have been begging my husband to spend a weekend out in Japser, and now I am going to have to just go ahead and plan it :)

  6. Sounds so nice, enjoy your stay there! your post is certainly getting me in a holiday spirit here!

  7. Fantastic Valerie! The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is just the kind of place we would love. I love the choo choo train and those snow covered peaks…oh my!

    Lovely”¦ so glad you’re having such a wonderful time :)

    Ciao, Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  8. What an amazing weekend Valerie. Just to be in the same lodge as my idols Michael X 2 and Anna would have made my year!!

  9. Anna Olsen and Michael smith..you lucky lucky lady!! How exciting to see all the scenery and the lodge looks dreamlike, I can’t wait to visit with you on your next post..

    sweetlife

  10. I am so happy that you are having a good time! Fairmont Hotels are something else, one can not go wrong with it. Sorry to hear that spa is all booked up. Great photos of the mountains and great and sincere write up. How is their “chef-sous” compared to yours?
    Is Beave out of the suitcase yet?

    • Vanja: Beavie has been in and out. One of my table mates hung him by the tail on our table number sign when I left him alone at the table for less than 5 minutes! no Chef Sous compares to you, but I have NEVER been to an event as well thought out, as warm and unpretentious, and as excellent in every way as this one. I am in awe. Truly. This is paradise and you must come next year. I went to a Scotch tasting and a BBQ class just to encourage you, and then I loved it myself! The wine and cheese tasting today, you would have loved, too. To be honest, the price of the conference is worth the accommodation and the meals alone if you don’t even want to attend one session. But, why wouldn’t you? They are interesting, educational, and hilarious! Beavie is getting fat and brazen! :)
      XO

  11. What a fabulous time you had. I lived in Banff for a couple of years………too many years a go to remember :) Believe it or not, I took the train from Banff to Halifax. I still remember that trip. I was young and foolish, so I sat up the entire way!!
    Aww…….Timmy’s……….I have a little bit of Timmy’s in my freezer that I have been saving. After reading your post, maybe today is the day!

  12. Lynn Smith says:

    Wow sounds like you had a wonderful time. I am jealous…I am going to try and go next year. Maybe I will see you there.
    It looks so beautiful and so much fun.

  13. Canada is stunning! Look at the views from your photo! What a great day. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  14. This looks fabulous. A real Christmas tease”¦!

  15. A very beautiful place! It’s just November, and you are already in X’mas mood.
    Angie

  16. What a lovely time they have had for you. This is so Canadian and looks like so much fun.

  17. Val, what a blessed life you have! The lodge looks heavenly and would definitely put anyone in a holiday mood.

  18. Jealous!!! That cookie decorating looks like so much fun.

  19. Diane Lamb says:

    Wow – what a great website! And you’ve captured Christmas in November beautifully! Wasn’t it a wonderful escape?

    I enjoyed the time we spent together on the bus to and from the Lodge. It was great getting to know you and I’ll be signing up for your newsletter.

    From your “new best friend”,
    Diane

  20. Natalie Wilson says:

    WOW- this turned out great! It was wonderful meeting you day one of our luxurious trip! Maybe we will see you again in the years to follow!!!

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