Banff Gondola: Grand Opening
Last week I attended the grand opening of the new Banff Gondola facility in Banff National Park. It wasn’t the best day to capture the views but it was snowy and atmospheric on the ride up the gondola which made for some great frosty tree snaps. The upper terminal facility has not seen substantial renovations since it was established in 1980, so Brewster took this opportunity to significantly remediate the structure and revolutionize the mountaintop experience. Construction began in September 2015 and was completed in less than a year.
Above is the official photograph taken by Christopher Amat, a Calgary photographer (click the image to be linked to his website), featuring the beautiful views of the Canadian Rockies and the newly opened facility.
Year round this facility has always been a hot spot for tourists, photographers and the locals. With the opening of the new facility however, visitors can now experience a fine dining experience or a cup of coffee at the summit. With the new observatory deck and cafe, visitors can enjoy the 360 degree views from the comfort of a chair inside or out.
When we arrived at the summit, we were guided through a hallways complete with images of Banffs most popular sights and arrived in the foyer where the Northern Lights Cafe and Sky Bistro were located. Sky Bistro took my breath away, I love the rustic design and dark tones. You can book a table online for both lunch and dinner and the menu features delicious dishes like P.E.I steamed mussels, foie gras and Alberta Beef shortrib. Raise a glass of craft beer from Banff or Canmore. Sip vodka and gin from Banff’s only distillery. Taste fruits from farms across Alberta and B.C. and savour naturally-raised meats from Canmore and Central Alberta. Every dish is designed to embody the unique flavours of Canada and the Rocky Mountains for a dining experience that is as spectacular as the views.
The menu is classically Canadian and can be found HERE.
The Northern lights cafe wraps around the other side of the main floor with floor to ceiling windows to best showcase the view. It has an exceptional menu ranging from burgers and panini’s to fresh salads and snacks, so you’ll have no shortage of temptations. The casual, self-serve concept of the café gives you the freedom to enjoy a comfortable break from sightseeing or take a quick snack with you as you walk along the winding boardwalk.
The design is minimal, but clean to best showcase the beautiful views. Although my pictures don’t feature the views, it still goes to show that a gloomy day in the rockies still can be beautiful and atmospheric. The frost was sticking to the trees and the boardwalk up to the top of sulphur mountain was quiet and refreshing.
I managed to capture a couple photos when the clouds broke momentarily and in my opinion, a cloudy day is the best day to go up if you are prepared to wait around for the clouds to break. It feels as if you are floating above the mountains as you stare off toward the distant peaks poking up through the fluffy, cotton clouds. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what kind of day it is, thanks to the new facility and the interactive exhibits, you and your family will enjoy a day of learning, food and fun.
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