Traveling with the Family: Make it Fun for the Kids, Too!

Fairmont Banff Springs is ideal for scrapbook memories

One unwritten law of family vacation planning: If you hope to keep children happy, don’t ask them to participate in adult-themed activities. A simple swimming pool will offer hours of smile-inducing enthusiasm, but if you march kids to a museum or to a golf course on their summer vacation, the gods will smite you with bolts of bitter disappointment.

Hard lessons are often best. The proof was manifested on a vacation I took with my six-year-old son to the world-renowned Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta, Canada.

Talk about hitting the proverbial jackpot. Banff Springs offers a well-oiled family amenities program that entertains, motivates, educates and excites kids way beyond a parent’s Rocky Mountain high expectations.

Maybe you’re familiar with the resort’s legendary 27 holes of golf, sumptuous spa, five-star accommodations and cuisine, incomparable scenery and the MasterCard-melting boutique shopping in nearby Banff.

Oh sure, ear candy for the adults, but Yawn City to kids. What they want to hear about is the white water rafting, kayaking and canoeing, mountain biking, horseback riding, hiking, fishing, wildlife sightings (elk, bear, eagles, mountain sheep), glacier touring, bowling, tennis, game rooms, and the size and temperature of the hotel’s pool.

Matching up my son’s wants was a no-brainer. He had absolutely no interest in the Stanley Thompson-designed golf courses, so I arranged through the hotel a certified au pair (Ian wouldn’t let me say babysitter) who took him biking, swimming, exploring, to a movie and then to lunch.

We caught up later at the resort’s outdoor heated pool, then had a blast experimenting with sticky cheese fondue after a spirited, make-up-the-rules game of billiards.

The next day was even more quality time together. After feasting on an anything-you-want buffet breakfast at the Bow Valley Grill—one of a dozen eateries at the hotel—we peddled off and burned some serious calories tandem biking around the village.

Then it was off to the Banff Gondola and a ride to the 7,500-foot summit of Sulphur Mountain, where picture-prompting panoramas of snowcapped mountains and wild mountain goat sightings made for an incredibly memorable afternoon.

What’s the litmus test of a great family vacation? Ask your kids about what they remember about past summers. Years later, Ian still talks about Canada. That’s how I know I got it right.


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Chris Duthie is a contributor to Colorado AvidGolfer, the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it. It publishes eight issues annually and proudly delivers daily content via