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Jasper Park Lodge a Canadian Rockies haven
by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

The US economy is near a crisis state (if you believe the news) and the American dollar has lost its once brag-worthy value internationally. But that shouldn't deny you a weekend away to clear some headspace or help relieve the daily strains of your job. I recently trekked to the remote, forested Jasper Park Lodge nestled centrally in the Canadian Rockies. This resort area is a highly pursued winter destination for American, European, and Australian skiers. In summer months, it attracts a steady flow of rock climbers and hikers. The most efficient method of traveling to and from Jasper is on-board VIA Rail (www.viarail.ca), offering three departures per week through the Canadian Rockies from Vancouver. You can also fly direct to Edmonton from Seattle on Alaska-Horizon Air (www.alaskaair.com), and then connect through VIA Rail to Jasper. Remember to upgrade to "Silver & Blue" class for a more divine experience. Here's what to expect at Jasper Park Lodge.

Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge www.fairmont.com/jasper

LOCATION

Jasper Park Lodge is a 10-minute drive from the Jasper train station, deep into the pristine woods of this quaint resort town. It isn't necessary to rent a car as taxis are reasonably priced in the area.

ACCOMODATIONS
Part of the luxurious Fairmont hotel chain, Jasper Park Lodge is essentially a country lodge with posh touches. Suites, grouped together in row house-style, are spacious and come furnished with large beds, fluffy pillows, armchairs, petite couches, coffee tables, TV sets, hot kettles with Fairmont specialty teas, abundant closet and storage areas, alarm clock radios, and modern bathroom appliances and products. Choose from Junior or Lakefront suites, with or without fireplaces, and for a bigger bang you can upgrade to a Luxury Signature Cabin - where you might spot famous musicians like the Dixie Chicks, Nickelback, or Simple Plan. Even the reigning Queen of England enjoyed a stay at Jasper Park Lodge. This fabulous property is offering a few spring-summer packages, which include special room rates, golfing rounds, two-hour motorcycle rides, complimentary breakfast buffet, and bonus airline miles or food and beverage credit. Specific details about these specials are available at www.fairmont.com.

AMENITIES
The majestic scenery surrounding Jasper Park Lodge is worth the trip alone, a real-life portrait of mountains, lakes, streams and trees, and layers of pure white snow from November through May. A heated swimming pool is not only a great way to exercise in the morning, it also provides breathtaking views out to unspoiled nature and Lac Beauvert below. On the main lodge's lower level is a series of boutique shops, restaurants, a convenience store, recreation room, bar-lounge with pool tables, and sushi counter. The main lodge also has plenty of floor space to read a book, mingle with fellow guests, and warm your toes by the fireplace with a steaming mug of cocoa. Outdoors, aside from the perfectly nestled swimming pool, Jasper Park Lodge has tennis courts and walking trails to stretch your legs during warm months. In wintertime, direct shuttles to the Marmot Basin ski area are available at the lodge entrance.

DINING
Several dining options are found at Jasper Park Lodge, including The Moose Nook's Northern Grill, The Emerald, Meadows Restaurant, The Palisade Lounge, and First Cup Patio. There aren't any grocery stores nearby, so you're limited to the on-premise restaurants, but the variety of choices offers something for everyone's palate. I dined at three of these spots, and enjoyed each meal. At The Moose Nook, the food centers on Northwest favorites like locally caught seafood and Canadian-bred meats. I can attest to having one of the most amazing desserts at The Moose Nook - a chilled version of Bananas Foster served in a martini glass with crème fraiche, cobbler crumbles and a strawberry slice. At The Emerald, a piled-high club sandwich was hearty - although I will make a slight rant about the slower than usual service. And at Meadows Restaurant I was politely told to eat all my Omega 3 eggs before I could be excused from my table. Served with sweet, chewy bacon and fingerling potatoes, I obeyed my orders.

ACTIVITIES
Much like a tropical resort, Jasper Park Lodge has furnished itself with enough amenities to keep guests from needing to go anywhere else. If you must wander, consider a three-hour guided tour of the scenic Ice Canyon Walk - be sure to take boots, gloves and warm clothes because it gets rather nippy down in those caves. And you can kill two birds with one stone at the popular Marmot Basin ski area - scout hot guys and snowbike (yes, there is such a thing) down a mountain at full speed.
 

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