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Douglas Fir Resort & Chalets 3.0

Banff, Banff National Park, Canadian Rockies

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Family-friendly property about a 20-minute walk to Banff Avenue
  • Huge condo-style rooms and rustic chalets with full-sized kitchens
  • Rooms have AC, wood-burning fireplaces, and flat-screen TVs
  • Banff's only water park pool and play zone adventure course for kids
  • Free entrance to the water park with steam room, hot tub, and games
  • Indoor heated pool and outdoor hot tub, plus two small saunas
  • 24-hour gym with dated machines
  • Free firewood, bus passes, and assigned parking
  • Convenience store, liquor store, barbecue areas, and laundromat
  • Free property-wide Wi-Fi
  • Designated rooms for pets (extra fee)

Cons

  • No restaurant here
  • Very dated and worn property
  • Slow and spotty Wi-Fi 

Bottom Line

Douglas Fir Resort & Chalets is one of the town's older properties and it shows. The 130 rooms have tired furniture from decades past, and chalets are downright rustic. Still, it sees a lot of repeat guests and is a favorite among younger families with kids, thanks to the full-sized kitchens, indoor water park pool area (free for guests), and impressive indoor kids' play zone. The huge self-catering units can sleep up to 10, making this spot an excellent value. An on-site convenience store, laundromat, and liquor store that will deliver to your room make it easier to be a 20-minute walk from the main action on Banff Avenue. Free Wi-Fi and bus passes, cozy wood-burning fireplaces, and big plug-n-play flat-screen TVs are additional perks. Folks looking for a more secluded location may want to check out the rates at Hidden Ridge Resort. 

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Scene

Old and dated property with lots of value for families, attracting several return guests

Douglas Fir Resort & Chalets is a huge property with several sections that stretch across nearly five acres. Navigating the maze-like property can seem overwhelming at first, but it's easy enough to manage once you find your route. Poplar and fir trees give the grounds a natural landscape and tranquil vibe. Spotting birds is fairly common, while coming across a giant, carved wooden animal statue is guaranteed. 

The resort started its life in the mid-40s, opening in 1946 as a cabin property. In 1968, it was turned into a proper hotel that was popular among families. Today, it's a mid-range condo resort that gets a lot of repeat guests from Alberta -- mostly parents in their 30s and 40s with younger kids, who take advantage of the low rates and ultimate kid-friendly features. There's no getting around it: this is a dated property -- so dated that parts of it border on retro -- and it may not be the best choice for travelers who want spick-and-span spaces with no visible wear or tear. The property hasn't undergone a full renovation since 1998; items are replaced as needed. 

Location

Nature-filled location within a 20-minute walk of Banff Avenue

Douglas Fir Resort is located above Banff Avenue, off Tunnel Mountain Road. This area feels miles away from the bustling town center, but it's actually less than a 20-minute walk down the hill to Banff Avenue. There's also a pickup and drop-off stop just outside for the local bus that runs every 40 minutes to and from town until late. Several biking and hiking trails are behind the Buffalo Mountain Lodge across the street, including the Tunnel Mountain trailhead. There's also a great restaurant at the Buffalo Mountain Lodge and guests can walk one minute to the HI Banff Alpine Center for a cheap meal. 

  • Eight-minute drive to the Banff Pedestrian Bridge
  • Nine-minute drive to the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
  • 10-minute drive to Cave and Basin
  • 12-minute drive to the Banff Upper Hot Springs
  • 13-minute drive to Lake Minnewanka 
  • 13-minute drive to the Banff Gondola
  • 27-minute drive or 10-minute bus to Canmore
  • 43-minute drive to Lake Louise
  • 90-minute drive to Calgary Airport

Rooms

Massive and dated rooms with full kitchens and rustic A-frame chalets 

Douglas Fir has 130 condo-style rooms and rustic chalets that exist in all shapes and configurations. The rooms here are known and loved for being huge and having kitchens with a full range of regular-sized kitchen appliances, including dishwashers. They are also known, though not always loved, for being dated and worn, rocking '80s lodge decor and a matching vibe. However, there is one perk to Douglas Fir's age: the rooms have air-conditioning (only older hotels in Banff have AC, since they existed before the national park enacted laws that limit AC). They also come standard with heating, a basic range of eco-friendly toiletries plus mouthwash, vanity kits, and makeup remover. Technology includes 42-inch flat-screen TVs with plug-and-play entertainment. 

Rooms are either located in the main lodge building, in separate duplexes, or as stand-alone chalets. Most chalets are located along the edge of the woods with personal terraces, giving them a more secluded vibe and peaceful setting, though they are also the most rustic of the bunch. With two or three bedrooms, the chalets can sleep six and up to eight in a three bedroom, though it would be a bit cramped. These units tend to look bigger on the outside than inside, and they come with motel comforters, raw wood furniture, and an overall beat-up cabin look. Kitchenware and toiletries are slim, but flat-screen TVs are provided.

Suites and condo-style rooms have a more contemporary look than the chalets, though they are far from modern. There are several variations of these rooms, from the hotel room-style Bachelor Suite Condo (which has an electric fireplace instead of a wood-burning fireplace) to the huge Family Suites with three bedrooms, four bathrooms, and kitchen setups for 10. Bedrooms usually come with queen-sized beds, while extra beds in the living room are either double-sized pullout sofas or Murphy beds. Not all rooms have mountain views, but south-facing rooms have excellent Mount Rundle views. 

Features

The town's only water park pool

Douglas Fir may be tired and dated, but it is loaded with features that make it feel like a small, kid-friendly village. The town's only water park-like pool is on-site and free for guests. It's got two large twisting waterslides, a kiddy pool, big steam room and sauna, and a huge 24-person hot tub. Dry entertainment options include table games, a photo booth, and space for events. It's open all day on weekends and in the evenings during the week. Don't expect glamour, it's just as well-worn as the rest of the hotel and smells like it is cleaned with ample chlorine. The impressive indoor kids' playground is just for hotel guests and is a multi-story, unsupervised activity center the hotel built from scratch. It includes a padded, bottom-floor toddler play area, as well as a main tree house-like structure full of loops, tunnels, and adventure courses for kids 12 and under. 

Adults can work out in the 24-hour fitness room with dated equipment off the main pool area. The main pool is located under the lobby (guests can actually overlook the pool from the lofted lobby area). It's indoors, heated to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and has a strong chlorine smell. There are also an eight-person, jigsaw-shaped hot tub that bubbles at 104 degrees, changing rooms, and two small saunas separated by gender. 

The village vibe is rounded out with a well-stocked convenience shop, coin-operated laundromat, and a well-priced liquor store that will deliver booze and food to guest rooms. A few guest-only features include barbecue areas with Coleman grills, and a two-computer business center with printing via the front desk. A direct line to taxis and a payphone are relics that support the hotel's dated vibe.   

Freebies include spotty and slow Wi-Fi, local calls to Banff and Canmore, firewood and kindle, bus passes (bus leaves every 40 minutes), and designated parking spots. Pets are allowed in designated rooms for a per-pet, per-night fee. 

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Address

525 Tunnel Mountain Drive, Banff, Canadian Rockies T1L 1B2, Canada

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