Fairmont Banff Springs

“Castle in the Rockies” as it’s often referred too, is perched above the alpine town of Banff set amongst surrounding mountains and the forest of Banff National Park.

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Castle in the Rockies – yes this is my picture from a nearby viewing platform!

To me this hotel represents the Canadian Rockies, a symbol of luxury lodge accommodation amongst some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.  My expectations were high on all accounts, and after my stay here, they were certainly met and exceeded.

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As part of a tour, we first arrived at a side entrance to the hotel, which was fine. However the front/main entrance is certainly the way to arrive.  With high ceilings, the modern rustic charm sets you up for your stay.  As you walk through the hallways, you can feel the history this hotel has lived through.

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The Pool @ the Fairmont Banff Springs

My room was located a few levels up and again provided the alpine coziness and comfort the Fairmont alpine hotels are famous for.  My plush looking bed, bathroom and desk all provided the essentials and my view over the nearby river and mountains ensured I felt like a princess in a castle.

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Entry Hall

Dining in this exquisite hotel are plentiful with 9 options ranging from grills, to sushi bars, to lounges and pubs.  I wish I had time to dine in them all!

What felt like the hub of the hotel, Rundle Lounge is a must do even for just a drink. With its charming décor, attentive staff and stylish cocktail menu you’ll be tempted to stay longer than just a drink.  The setting was relaxed and oozed a more modern style given the old warm charm throughout the hotel.

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With my friends dining scattered at many of the restaurants, one thing was apparent – everyone raved about their dining experience regardless of which one they had!

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One thing I recommend is taking some time to walk around the castle grounds. From perfectly manicured lawns, to swimming pools, gyms and patios it is nothing short of impressive.  Internally the hotel has hosted royalty, movie stars and famously Marilyn Monroe.

I suggest taking one of the hotel tours to hear about the hotel history, its famous guests, and to explore some of its grand ballrooms.  Once you have finished exploring, you can walk or take the bus down to the city center. Easy marked and numbered buses made this trip return trip hassle free.

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I’m not sure this review does the hotel justice or perhaps my photo’s either. All I can say is this is possibly my favorite hotel to date that I’ve stayed in.  The staff were friendly, polished and helpful; the food delightful regardless of which restaurant; the actual architecture of the building itself is glorious; the scenery surrounding this icon is majestic.

I don’t have a negative thing to say about it and I’ve talked about it to death to family and friends. Do yourself a favour and experience alpine luxury at its best at the Fairmont Banff Springs.

Love Sparkle Palm xxx

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Royal Zanzibar Hotel

Originally after my time in Africa I intended to go to Dubai for a few nights then home.  My dream quickly because crushed with a $3500 quote for accommodation for my 2/3 days.  Dishearten, my agent came back with the option of a week at an all-inclusive beach resort in Zanzibar for approx. $1200. Done.

Then I thought, where and what is Zanzibar???  I was sent the links about the hotel and Zanzibar to look at, as Stone Town was where my tour was ending, so this would be an easy transfer to the resort.  If you haven’t already, do the following. Go to Google, type Zanzibar and click on images – it’s paradise in Africa!

Where the pool meets the ocean
Where the pool meets the ocean

At this stage of the planning process I was starting to feel the financial pinch, so a week at a resort with all meals AND beverages (yes including alcohol) included, seemed a perfect way to enjoy the end of a once in a lifetime adventure.

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Beach at the edge of the resort

I was picked up by a private transfer from a hotel my fellow tour friends were staying at after saying some sad goodbyes, headed north through villages and windy roads to the north coastal town of Nungwi.

Along a main dirt road and past a number of luxury resort signs we entered the property of Royal Zanzibar Beach Resort – perfect!

Ensuring I arrived after check in time, the sign in process was quick and friendly. I was given a wrist band to wear for the duration of my stay as part of the all inclusive package and promptly headed to my room.

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Tropical strolls through the hotel

Upon opening my door I felt like I had won the accommodation lottery. Hallway, with hanging room for my clothes and a safe, lead into a very spacious (approx. 80sqm) room.  With a 4 poster bed in the middle, desk area, outside balcony, seating and a huge bathroom, I could have cried.   My reaction was perhaps slightly heightened by the fact I had spent the past 3 weeks living in a tent, having only had 3 hot showers and actually lived out of a suitcase. This would not be 5 star compared to the luxury in Asia or London, but it was perfect for a relaxing beach week and beautiful compared to other hotels I’d seen along the way in Africa.

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One of the large pools

Set on almost 20 acres, this resort has everything you need. From the four pools, fitness centre, spa, gift shop, restaurants and direct access onto the beach of white sand and turquoise water, you’ll feel in heaven.

If you need to feel like you’ve burned some calories so you can keep eating, they do have free water aerobics and beach volley ball.  I did a water aerobic class one morning, it was a great way to start my day!

When I had to step away from the postcard setting and belting Africa sun, it was generally only to eat!  Being able to leave my wallet and dwindling cash locked away for the week was a really nice feeling and meant I didn’t have to be mindful of my dining options

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One of the pools

My day generally went like this: Wake up, shower and head down to breakfast. Back to the room, get organized and spend the morning poolside. Take a break for lunch and some time out of the blazing sun, then return for an afternoon pool session. I’d meet some new found British friends for a “after pool” cocktail/wine. Then back to the room, to shower, get dressed and return to the bar to watch the sunset and have a pre dinner drink. Then onto dinner at Spices, followed by a drink at the bar and bed! This may should like a lot of eating and drinking, and it certainly was given I may only have a wine once or twice a week at home, not several times a day, but this was holiday time!

Eat, swim, eat, swim, eat, drink, sleep – repeat!

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Beach from the resort

 

I know a lot of people get really critical of buffets, but I’m not so much. Buffets are mass produced food, not a Michelin Star restaurant, so I think it’s best to remember that. Definitely some buffets are better than others and I found this to be in the better half.

 

A storm is coming
A storm is coming

Breakfast served at Spice – Plenty of options including a range of egg options, there was hot and cold food, sweets and savories, fruit and plenty more.  You should have no problems fueling up for the day.  You can have breakfast smoothies/juices which you order from your waitress, I ended up doing so every morning as they were yummy!

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Poolside

Lunch – I generally ate at Spices for lunch as it provided a huge array of options. Every lunch (and dinner) they had a pizza and pasta bar, so you could make your own combinations, salads, meats, desserts and so on.

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Entrance to the hotel

 

I did have lunch at Samaki one day to mix it up. It was an a la carte menu, which was still part of the all inclusive package and beautifully positioned overlooking the beach.

 

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Zanzibar

 

Dinner – probably my favourite meal time at this resort as there were different flavours each night.  My highlight was the Asian themed night. I was able to pick all the fresh ingredients I wanted (ensuring coriander was no where to be seen) and it was absolutely delicious.

 

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Pool

Royal Zanzibar Beach Hotel is definitely a hotel I would recommend and happily stay again. I’m sure there are some more glamorous hotels in the area, but I really enjoyed my time here. The location – spectacular, the staff – friendly, chatty and helpful, the room – spacious and clean, the bathroom – huge open walk in shower and separate bath, the activities – plenty of free fun activities for all ages if you choose, the food – all inclusive, delicious food with plenty of variety.

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Sunset perfection

Enjoy Royal Zanzibar Beach Hotel

Love Sparkle Palm

xxx

Beach views
Pure Bliss
Heaven on earth
Heaven on Earth