Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Rimrock Hotel & Resort

I spent part of my recent vacation at the Rimrock Resort Hotel in Banff, AB, where my sister held her wedding reception. It was a beautiful and fun event set in a stunning location (and yes, the weather was actually great that weekend).

Located a few minutes outside the town of Banff, and right across from the hot springs, the Rimrock positions itself between the Banff Springs and pretty much all the other hotels in Banff.  Here are my thoughts on it:

Our Room
I have to admit that I thought our room would be a bit more polished considering what they charge for it in the summer (over $200) but really, it was fine, even if it did have a plastic counter in the bathroom. We had two queen beds and the whole room was quite spacious, with plenty of storage. It was also very quiet and the mattresses and pillows were great.

My parents, as well as my sister, booked a two-room suit that came with a second bathroom as living/bedroom. These units were quite big, had nicer finishes and would be ideal for families or groups of friends (the pre-wedding night room my sister had spelt six). These rooms also had nicer views (we looked out on trees and a hiking path) and some even came with balconies.

Front desk and concierge staff, the doorman and the bellhops were all wonderfully friendly and helpful and with the massive amount of stuff we arrived with, we really did put them to the test.

Maid service was top-notch though I did find that they took forever to get to our specific room. But they did clean the room when I called them at 3:50 pm and said that yep, we were out (they had stopped by to clean around 3:30 when I was in the shower) so bonus points to them for that.

All of the restaurant servers I dealt with were also quite pleasant but I did find that the hostesses at the Primrose restaurant could have been politer. I was actually quite shocked at the attitude one of them gave me when I asked if they could seat a table of seven or nine (I was given a table for six after I was told they could seat seven).

I had the $20 breakfast buffet at the Primrose several times during our stay and I have to say that I was quite happy with it. I know that some other people were a bit disappointed in the variety but it did cover all the basics (bacon, pancakes, French toast) and there was an omelette bar. I was particularly impressed by the pastry section; the chocolate croissants and the cinnamon swirls were great. Less great was the smoked salmon and the strangely small grapes but despite these misses, I think most people would enjoy having breakfast here at least once during their trip.

Just be aware that the Primrose can be quite busy at breakfast time and that it closes at 11 during the week and 11:30 on the weekends.

I would not recommend the Larkspur, the lobby restaurant, for anything for than drink. OK, the food we did order was good but it was also pricey and it took over 40 minutes to arrive. And one of those orders was just a bowl of soup. You could drive down to Banff, pick something up, and come back in that amount of time.

The food served at my sister’s wedding was great. It was a buffet and there was a nice variety, including chicken breast, salmon and prime rib. I know that not everyone’s a fan of wedding buffets but I think most people would have loved this one.

In preparation for the wedding, I had my eyebrows waxed and my nails done at the Rimrock’s spa. Both treatments were OK but nothing exceptional. I did have to do a bit of additional tweezing to clean up my brows while my nails, which cost $65, started to peel around the edges within 72 hours. And while the shape of my nails is nice, the polish wasn’t applied as smoothly as it could have been, though to be fair, the manicurist was pressed for time since the person before me, my mother, was late).

If you do decide to stay at the Rimrock, I would recommend skipping the spa.

Reception Space
Since this wasn’t my wedding, I’m not going to talk too much about that side of this trip but I will comment on a couple of things.

First, the reception space, a ballroom and a foyer area, were perfect for the wedding. They were a great size for my sister’s 130-odd guests, with the ballroom being used for dinner and dancing and the foyer used for cocktails and to host the buffet.

Both spaces have a subtle and flexible black-and-white colour scheme that easily lends itself to a wide variety of wedding-day visions.  OK, the dinner chairs are ugly but chair covers quickly fix that and allow you to work in your own colours. I also quite liked the huge but tasteful light in the ballroom space.

I was less impressed with the contract/paperwork side of things but having to get everything in writing and then double-checking all contracts and correspondences really are steps that you should always be doing whenever you’re planning a big event.

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