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Banff Rocky Mountain Resort 3.0

Banff, Banff National Park, Canadian Rockies

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Large resort property with a lot of features
  • Most rooms have balconies, full kitchens, and fireplaces
  • Indoor hot pool with sauna and kids' play area
  • Outdoor hot tub with loungers
  • Casual contemporary restaurant with good breakfast options
  • Tennis, basketball, and squash courts
  • One of the bigger (if dated) gyms in Banff 
  • Organized daily and nightly activities like walks and movies
  • Pet-friendly for nightly fee
  • Free Wi-Fi and parking 

Cons

  • Several public spaces and rooms look tired and dated
  • Some rooms have a musty, worn smell
  • Several guests have reported dirty rooms
  • No AC

Bottom Line

The three-pearl, 169-room Banff Rocky Mountain Resort was built to help with guest overflow for the 1988 Calgary Olympics. However, while its out-of-town location next to the freeway may have been ideal then, it feels unnecessarily far for some Banff tourists. Split across two sections, this is a large pet-friendly property full of pine trees and mostly dated rooms with full kitchens but no AC. Few spaces feel contemporary outside of the lobby restaurant and Wolf rooms. Rare on-site features include several sports courts and organized activities, plus there are a dingy indoor pool area with a sauna and play space, and an outdoor hot tub with loungers and barbecue area. Expect free Wi-Fi, lot parking, and shuttles into town every two hours. It's worth considering the similar Douglas Fir Resort & Chalets, set farther up Tunnel Mountain. 

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Scene

Popular with couples and families who don't mind the dated rooms or removed setting

Banff Rocky Mountain Resort was built for the 1988 Calgary Olympics and is split between two sections bisected by Tunnel Mountain Road. One side houses the guest rooms and staff building, while the other contains the facilities and more guest rooms. Unlike several of the condo-style units set around Tunnel Mountain, this spot doesn't have as much of a lodge-like vibe, instead feeling more like a hotel. Most of the guest rooms are in wood and concrete quadplexes and surrounded by pine trees. Most of the public spaces are visibly dated, including the indoor pool area, gym, and majority of the rooms, but ever so slowly the hotel seems to be renovating and giving much-needed upgrades, starting with the restaurant area. 

This property has more resort features than its competitors. The remote location is popular with couples, while families seem to enjoy the plethora of family-friendly amenities. Anyone looking for a spot closer to town will have a hard time finding one with comparable features, particularly all the sports courts. Farther up the mountain, Douglas Fir Resort & Chalets has self-catering units (also dated) at around the same price point.

Location

On the outskirts of Banff, a 10-minute drive to downtown

Banff Rocky Mountain Resort is on the outskirts of Banff, but it's still only a three-minute drive to the eastern edge of Banff Avenue and an eight-minute drive to downtown's center. The only real perks to being this far out include being close to the trailhead for Tunnel Mountain and near the freeway exit. There are no bus stops within walking distance, but even then, it takes about an hour to reach the downtown strip. 

  • Eight-minute drive to Lake Minnewanka 
  • 12-minute drive to the Banff Pedestrian Bridge
  • 14-minute drive to Cave and Basin
  • 14-minute drive to the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
  • 16-minute drive to the Banff Gondola
  • 19-minute drive to the Banff Upper Hot Springs
  • 21-minute drive to Canmore
  • 38-minute drive to Lake Louise
  • 80-minute drive to Calgary Airport

Rooms

Vary between dated with scuffs to sleek and contemporary

Banff Rocky Mountain Resort has 169 rooms scattered throughout several different categories. Outside the collection of Wolf Condos, the rooms here are tired and dated with a dull color palette and motel vibe. Dings and scrapes are common, as are old carpeting and lackluster, lumpy bedspreads; some rooms actually smell worn and/or musty, most likely due to the old furniture. There’s no AC here, but guests will find fans (and irons) in the closets. 

Junior Suites have tile in the entryways and by the gas fireplaces, and bar areas housing large mini-fridges with freezers and drip coffeemakers. Bathrooms are spacious but dim and have shower/tub combos, a basic selection of Rocky Mountain Soap toiletries (no conditioner), and wall-mounted hairdryers. 

One Bedroom Condos are slightly more up-to-date, though they still feature dated furniture. Every kitchenette is roomy and comes stocked with a junior range with four burners and an oven, microwave, full-sized refrigerator, dishwasher, and toaster. There’s a small outdoor patio area with two chairs and dish settings for up to six. Even with just a double bed, the bedrooms feel snug. Expect a tube-style TV and wood-burning stone fireplace. Two Bedroom Condos are split on two levels with a living room, kitchen, bathroom with standing shower, and basic dining table on the lower floor. Upstairs, there are a full bathroom, hall closet, and two snug rooms that don’t have TVs. These rooms also have a terrace with two chairs and outdoor ski storage. 

The newest block of rooms are the Wolf Studios and Condos and are contemporary spaces with hardwood laminate floors, updated (though not quite stylish) couches, slate stone fireplaces, and sleek charcoal-colored eat-in kitchens stocked with slick black GE appliances. Cabinets sport wolf-shaped handles and hold settings for up to six. Attractive bathrooms have slate tile floors and shower/tub combos, plus patterned wallpaper. Ski storage are out on the patios and there are small open closets off the kitchens. Wolf Two Bedroom Condos are set for up to eight and feature open kitchens, dining tables that can only seat up to six, and two bathrooms. Compared to the other bedrooms at the hotel, these are noticeably more spacious. 

Features

Variety of amenities, including several sports courts, free shuttle to town, and daily activities

Banff Rock Mountain Resort isn’t shy when it comes to sports features. Where most spots in Banff just have a small gym, this spot has two basketball hoops in the parking lot, two tennis courts (with no room for spectators), and a large indoor fitness center with two indoor squash courts and a small sauna. There are no windows in the gym, but expect rubber floors, dated weight-training and cardio machines, and a mirrored wall. There’s no fee to use the squash courts, but guests need to reserve one and there is a fee to rent the equipment. 

An indoor heated pool is four to six feet deep and has a few chairs around its perimeter and a stack of free towels. A dry sauna, whirlpool, and underwhelming play area for kids is also here. Access to the large outdoor hot tub and stone deck with loungers is through a glass door. 

The Alpha Bistro bar is located off the lobby and has contemporary decor with touches of slate stone and wood. The bar area features faux-leather stools, several tables, and a casual vibe, while the menu has dishes like burgers, pizza, pasta, salads, and good breakfast options that include omelets, Eggs Benedict, and even a breakfast poutine (vegan and gluten-free items are marked). Out the back, there’s a row of Masterchef gas grills for guest use, plus a few picnic tables, or guests can trek up a level and eat in the contemporary terrace at a set of wicker tables and chairs. 

Since the hotel is away from town, there’s a free shuttle every two hours (from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. during our visit) that goes to and from the Ptarmigan hotel on Banff Avenue, and guests can rent bikes on-site by the day or hour. Convenient features include an ATM and laundry room. 

Family-friendly amenities include a small wooden playground just behind the tennis courts, changing table in the locker rooms, and organized daily and nightly activities. Playpens, baby gates, and highchairs are also available on request. This is a pet-friendly hotel with a per-pet, per-night fee that includes a pet bowl, toys, and treats. 

Free Wi-Fi and lot parking are provided. 

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Address

1029 Banff Avenue, Banff, Canadian Rockies T1L 1A2, Canada

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