Mount Norquay

This fox den is beautiful

The Fox Hotel & Suites, is centred around a open-air hot pool, lovingly called "the grotto."
Photo by Rick MacDonnell


BANFF, ALTA. — Not very long ago, the corner of Fox St. and Cougar St. played host to a dingy little diner/gas station with an eye sore of a parking lot. Now, in its place is The Fox Hotel & Suites, Banff's newest and No. 1 ranked accommodation on and No. 3 in all of Alberta. Needless to say, the Fox had a lot to live up to during our stay.

All I had heard about during the last few days leading up to my stay was "The grotto, man! You've gotta check out the grotto!" For those unfamiliar, the Fox is centered around an open-air hot pool, lovingly called "the grotto," and it's been luring visitors for three years running.

Mimicking Mother Nature

"It's definitely the focal point of the hotel," said Jennifer Whalen, the Fox's general manager. "People are always blown away when they see it. A lot of people actually ask if we built the hotel around it, if it's real rock down there. We obviously tell people the truth, but it just confirms how great a job our designers did."

The grotto isn't actually a natural phenomenon, but you'd never know it. Having just visited Banff's Cave and Basin a little over a month ago, I immediately made the comparison. Apparently I hit the nail on the head. 

"The concept of the hotel was built around the hot pool area. That whole idea was fashioned after the Cave and Basin here in Banff," said Whalen. "The Cave and Basin played a huge role in forming this town. It's why Banff came to be, really. So we wanted to honour that."

Hunting the foxes

There was much more than the grotto to keep me busy, however. The Fox has a steam room and an exercise room, along with what has to be the most beautifully designed Chili's on the planet (a opinion shared by a few in Chili's' corporate office). 

From top to bottom, the design of the Fox is top-notch. I spent most of my time trying to spot all the intricately placed foxes found all throughout the building.

Grotto at The Fox Hotel, Banff, Alberta, Canada

The Fox Hotel & Suites, located in Banff, Alberta, is built around a man-made grotto that is deceptively realistic.
Photo by Rick MacDonnell

"The architects, you can tell, put a lot of time and effort into the look of the place," said Whalen. "As soon as you walk in, you feel it. From the lobby, to the ornate carved ceiling, to the grotto, it all looks fantastic."

What I found really refreshing, though, was the hotel's commitment to the Banff community. From the soap, to the nearby spa, to even the coffee found in the rooms, the Fox is 100% committed to strengthening Banff as a whole. 

"We just believe in keeping things local and using local whenever we can," said Whalen. "Hence, the Rocky Mountain Soap and the Evelyn's coffee. Being tight with the community...we're all about that family feel in Banff and we work hard to foster that."

For me, it was easy to see why the Fox is the No. 1 rated hotel in Banff. From the service, to the management staff, to the unique layout, the place was grade A. It's what you'd expect from such a well-respected hotel, especially in Banff, where it's so difficult for businesses to survive for a long period of time. 

Personal complaints

I have only have a few complaints: the alarm clocks simply aren't loud enough. Those damn beds are almost impossible to leave in the morning. A little encouragement would've been nice.  Thankfully, I have Doc Pow's meditation chants. If those bellows don't wake a man up, nothing will.

While you're in Banff, you're going to need something to do, right? Why not head over to the Whyte Museum, or hike Mount Rundle. If dining is your thing, might we suggest The Bison Restaurant & Lounge.

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