From cruising around the globe, to leading highly successful escorted tours, there is little Travel Manager Jo Gostin doesn’t know when it comes to the world of luxury travel.
However, even Jo wasn’t prepared for the sheer beauty of her latest destination, the Canadian Rockies. We talked to Jo about her escorted group voyage into the mountains and what made the trip truly memorable.
A taste of Vancouver
To begin with, there was a warm welcome from the Fairmont Vancouver, an elegant hotel which was first opened in 1939. While a popular port of call for tour groups, Jo noted that the Fairmont provided excellent service during the busy period of their stay. “It’s a stylish, old world hotel in the centre of town, and the rooms are beautifully appointed and spacious,” she says.
With two days to explore Vancouver, Jo’s group set out on a city tour to see some of the highlights. The day included a trip to the Vancouver Lookout, the lofty tower providing 360 degree views over the beautiful city and harbour.
Seeing the Rockies in style
After a taste of what Vancouver had to offer, it was time to board the famous Rocky Mountaineer, Canada’s ultimate scenic rail experience. The group travelled in Gold Leaf class, which, as Jo assures us, is the only way to explore and enjoy the Rockies.
Renowned for its gourmet meals and five-star service, Gold Leaf certainly didn’t disappoint. Apart from the scenery, which Jo describes as ‘mind-boggling’, Gold Leaf passengers are treated to a two-level carriage with large, domed windows, perfect for taking in the view and capturing a few photos of the Rockies.
“I’ve been in the industry a long time, but nothing prepared me for the beauty of the area,” Jo confessed. “It’s raw nature and scenery on such a grand scale, but at the same time there’s this incredible peacefulness about it. We travelled through an incredible array of lakes, rivers, mountains and glaciers and each scene was more impressive than the last.”
Jasper and beyond
Travelling by day, the group’s first stop was in Kamloops, before continuing on to Jasper and Lake Louise. “Lake Louise is an amazing location,” says Jo. “Whatever you see on postcards or TV doesn’t really do it justice.”
The accommodation was in the form of the magnificent lakefront Fairmont Chateau, where the group stayed overnight before boarding the coach to Banff. A charming town, Banff’s large amount of restaurants and cafes make it a lively destination.
Despite being unable to stay in the Banff Springs Hotel, there was a pleasant surprise in the form of the Rimrock Resort, just a short shuttle ride out of town. Built into the side of the mountain, the resort’s tastefully modern decor perfectly complemented the surrounding scenery, making for a superb stay. The next morning the group set out for Calgary, the final stop on their journey.
“I have been privileged to travel to many wonderful destinations, but the Rockies was definitely one of the highlights of my travel career,” says Jo.
“I strongly recommend the combination of travelling by rail and road, as this varies the way you experience the breathtaking scenery.” If, like Jo, you prefer slightly warmer climes, she suggests visiting the Rockies in July-August, when summer begins to set in.
Ready to embark on your own Rocky Mountains tour? Get in touch with the experienced team at FBI Travel to start creating your ultimate itinerary. Don’t forget to ask about tailoring your experience – from skiing trips to walking on an icefield, salmon fishing to Alaskan cruises, there are endless options to customise your trip with a little help from FBI Travel.