A Weekend of Affordable Luxury, Art and Design in Calgary, AB
As soon as I stepped into the lobby of the Fairmont Palliser in Calgary, Alberta I felt out of my element. The soaring ceilings, giant chandeliers, and marble floors let me know that I was in for a night of luxury. The Palliser isn’t trying to be hip and trendy, but instead has a timeless class and luxury about it. And for good reason. The hotel has been operating since 1914, originally as a Canadian Pacific property. It’s been one of Calgary’s premier hotels ever since. Normally this would be the type of hotel that I would aspire to stay at while I schlepped my stuff to a rental or budget inn, but Fairmont teamed up with PARK (Promoting Artists | Redefining Kulture) to offer some packages that made a weekend of luxury realistically affordable.
After handing my Ford F150 King Ranch loaner off to the valet I was whisked straight to the penthouse for my exclusive Fairmont Gold check-in. Gold takes service to another level giving you access to a private concierge, larger rooms, wifi, and access to the Gold lounge. An oasis of calm and quiet, it’s a great place to read with a cup of tea or get some work done while still feeling somewhat social. Breakfast is served in the mornings and in the evenings there are hors d’oeuvres along with an honour bar. If you want coffee, they have a big, scary looking Nespresso machine. They also have iPads you can use while relaxing in the lounge. You get a first rate view from here if you get the right seat, as the penthouse looks out over downtown Calgary, across green spaces and all the way to the mountains.
My room at the Palliser made me feel as if I was staying in an old world bed & breakfast rather than a 400+ room hotel. The high ceilings, crown moulding, and high end furniture drove home the fact that I wasn’t staying in a Korean love motel this time. The generous sized bath products were still carry-on friendly, but only just. And I finally, finally, found a North American hotel that provides real creamers and milk instead of powdered whitener. As a tea drinker I despise coffee whitener in my Tetley.
During my stay I made a point of getting full use of the pool and hot tub downstairs. It’s a great way to get a little exercise in and, for the most part, I had the place to myself. Changing rooms and towels are available so you don’t have to go down in your robe if you don’t want. If you’re worried about packing a wet swimsuit, there’s a nifty spinner that will get your suit mostly dry in a matter of seconds. Think of it as a salad spinner for swimsuits.
When I wasn’t holed up in my fabulous room I was attending PARKLUXE, a fashion show and art exhibition initiative featuring designers and professional artists who share a common, high-end target market. Their aim is to connect local designers with fashion and art lovers. This was their second year and featured seven designers and one artist. I felt somewhat out of place at the event because A) I hadn’t packed for a fashion show and B) I didn’t know anyone but I had fun all the same people watching and checking out what everyone else was wearing. It became clear to me that I needed some leather leggings, which I fixed with a little time at Hudson’s Bay the next day.
Beautiful people mixed and mingled while the line for the bar grew steadily. I’m not familiar with the Calgary scene but this seemed like an event to be seen at. Photographers were everywhere snapping pictures of the particularly stylish or famous. Once the show got underway, models paraded the designers’ creations down a 200’+ runway in front of over 600 attendees. Some of the pieces were true works of art (I was particularly found of Lauren Bagliore‘s collection), others I cared for less (only a few people can actually wear taupe successfully) but all in all it was a fabulous night. Beautiful people and beautiful accommodations made for a great weekend of (affordable) luxury and indulgence, which we all need now and then.
Have you ever found a deal that made a little luxury doable?
- Where: 133 9th Ave SW, Calgary, Alberta
- Cost: Rooms start at $279. Fairmont Gold starts at $429. With the PARKLUXE package rooms were as low as $99/night.
- Number of Rooms: 407
- Amenities: Indoor pool, spa and restaurants on site. Gold floor includes free wifi, exclusive lounge and breakfast.
- Rating: TripAdvisor 4*
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Note: I was hosted by the Fairmont Palliser, including a VIP ticket to the PARKLUXE2013 event, but all opinions are my own. No one asked that I arrive underdressed to the fashion show or make a meal of the Gold Lounge hors d’oeuvres.