I have had the privilege of taking three amazing train journeys on Rocky Mountaineer. There have been some once-in-a-lifetime wow moments on the luxury train as it wound its way through some of Western Canada’s most breathtaking scenery. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the luxury train, so there’s no better time to plan a visit to the majestic Canadian Rockies.
One of my favorite things about Rocky Mountaineer is that you can have so many amazing onboard moments, but also combine that with excursions before, during, and after your train travels. I’ve had some unforgettable spa experiences that were made even more amazing because of Rocky Mountaineer. Here are a few of my favorite spa experiences that I enjoyed as part of my magical moments with Rocky Mountaineer.
City Spa Experience in Vancouver
Rocky Mountaineer offers more than 50 different packages across three different rail routes, giving you abundant options for experiencing Western Canada. I began each of my journeys in Vancouver, British Columbia.
As part of my GoldLeaf Service on Rocky Mountaineer, I stayed at different luxury hotels each time. My favorite stay was at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. The “Castle in the City” has dominated the Vancouver skyline since 1939. I loved exploring the city on each visit, but one of my highlights was a day at Willow Stream Spa at one of the city’s other Fairmont properties—Fairmont Pacific Rim.
The spa day was a great way to relax before embarking on my train journey. Willow Stream Spa feels like a Canadian hideaway, even though you’re in the middle of the city. The spa is on the fifth floor and is filled with light wood, sleek design, and large windows with breathtaking views of the bay.
I really enjoyed the outdoor terrace, where you can sit around the fire pit, relax on a lounger, or soak up the fresh air in one of the hot tubs. The open-air tubs offer a spectacular way to see the city. And, since they’re co-ed, you can share your warm soak with someone special. I shared my spa day with several girlfriends and we definitely had a day we’ll all remember.
My treatment at Willow Stream Spa at Fairmont Pacific Rim was a deep tissue massage. The treatment room was beautiful and memorable. During the treatment, the room was quiet and dark. After my massage, my therapist opened the shades to let in the afternoon light and give me stunning city views. I was ready to board the train the next morning for my journey into the Rockies.
Mountain Spa Experience in Banff Springs
Rocky Mountaineer only travels during daylight hours so you can experience the full majesty of the mountains. One of my favorite journeys was the First Passage to the West, which made its way from Vancouver to Banff Springs via Kamloops.
This first journey was a little emotional. I sometimes felt overwhelmed—in a great way—from the breathtaking scenery. And my every whim had been met thanks to the hospitality of the onboard staff.
After such a great experience, it was fitting to get off the train and make my way to the fairytale castle that is Fairmont Banff Springs. After a night on one of the most amazing beds ever, I spent a lovely spa day at Willow Stream Spa at Fairmont Banff Springs.
The focal point of the spa is the indoor mineral pool. It has a beautiful waterfall and the rock walls surrounding the pool give you a feel of being part of nature. Banff is at more than 4,500 feet above sea level, with sheer mountains surrounding the town. The clear, crisp air is a bit intoxicating. The spa brings that touch of nature to your experience. I sat in that serene space, looking out at the mountains, and felt a tremendous sense of calm and peace.
I enjoyed the Alpine Aromatherapy massage. It is a soothing massage meant to help you balance your energy. During the massage, you can choose your own aroma. The options include lavender for calming energy, citrus to revitalize, or ginger to soothe. I chose the ginger and felt myself melt away under the expertise of my therapist.
Lakeside Spa Experience at Jasper Park Lodge
My second journey, made during a cool April, was the Journey Through the Clouds, which carried me from Vancouver to Jasper. I had spent the two days of the journey oohing and ahhing over Canada’s highest peak, Mount Robson, and looking out for bears along the tracks as trees budded and mountain springs flowed. Jasper is a gorgeous mountain town that feels as if it is in the middle of nowhere.
Jasper is in Alberta, a small town of fewer than 4,600 people surrounded by peaks and glacier-fed lakes. I couldn’t believe how beautiful the rivers were as we wound our way along on Rocky Mountaineer. After getting off the train, we made our way to Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, where I probably said, “Wow” a dozen times. At least. The resort sits on the banks of Lac Beauvert in the middle of Jasper National Park.
After settling into my cabin, I made my way along the lake’s edge and discovered brightly colored Adirondack chairs just waiting for me to relax. Such perfection.
At least, I thought I had found my version of perfection until I made my way into the spa the next morning. Big comfortable chaise lounges, with thick throws, sat around a fireplace, each placed to take advantage of the wide windows looking out across the lake.
I was happy to sit with my cup of tea and relax, but eager to experience the massage I booked there. I enjoyed the Jasper Signature massage that uses a unique combination of cooling Glacial Shells on the skin contrasting with the warmth of paraffin. I wasn’t sure about the cooling of the shells—I’m not a fan of something cold on my body—but this contrast was an exceptional experience.
If you want to go for a swim, the Health Club and Pool has a heated outdoor pool that you can access from inside the building if you prefer not to step outside in the cool mountain air. While not a problem during the beautiful summer days, having that indoor access was nice on a chilly April evening.
Nordic Spa Experience in Kananaskis Village
On my last trip with Rocky Mountaineer, in October 2019, I got off the train in Banff and made my way about a half-hour drive west to Kananaskis Village. This is a wonderful excursion that Rocky Mountaineer can help you book, to create an amazing escape in the Rockies.
Kananaskis Mountain Lodge, part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, is truly a mountain chalet with a clean modern feel, yet you know you’re in Canada. I loved all the textures and use of stone and wood throughout the property.
It is also home to Kananaskis Nordic Spa. The Nordic Spa is steps from the lobby, so it’s common to see people milling about in their bathrobes. While the Nordic Spa does offer massages, I didn’t have one during my stay. Instead, I changed into my swimsuit and chose to experience the outdoor saunas along with the circuit of hot, warm, and cold plunge pools.
It is open late—until 11 p.m. on the weekends—so you can experience the magic of the cool Canadian nights from the warmth of your plunge pool. Again, I visited with a group of friends and we spent a couple of hours soaking in the warmth under the starry, Canadian autumn skies.
If You Go on Rocky Mountaineer
Rocky Mountaineer offers luxury train journeys through some of Western Canada’s most exquisite scenery. The train runs April through October and you won’t find better hospitality anywhere. I recommend booking GoldLeaf Service, with a bi-level glass-dome coach, gourmet meals in the dining room, and outdoor viewing area.
You can expect great cuisine for each breakfast and lunch served on board the train. The onboard hosts point out the magnificent scenery along the way. You can discover amazing moments from the comfort of your reclining seat, as you sip on complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages served with a selection of snacks.
I think back to my first trip in 2015. I honestly wasn’t sure I would enjoy it. I feared riding the train all day. I’m not one to sit and do nothing. I packed my tablet and books to read. What’s funny about the trip, however, is that I never took anything out of my bag except for my camera.
Time seemed to shift during my journey. I discovered how magical it is to slow down, connect with the other passengers, and take in the magnificence of the world outside my window. You can read more about Rocky Mountaineer on Wander and enjoy your own Rocky Mountaineer journey during this 30th-anniversary year.
I am a Rocky Mountaineer Ambassador. I only accept partnerships that I believe offer the best experiences and great wow moments for my readers. Rocky Mountaineer is one of my best travel experiences and I am honored to share these great journeys with you.