Moose Hotel opens doors in Banff

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For the first time in nearly a decade, a new Banff hotel opened its doors last week.

On Friday (June 24), Moose Hotel & Suites on Banff Avenue welcomed its first guests – despite not being fully open for business. Word of mouth has made the rounds, said Cathy Geisler, reservations manager for Banff Lodging Company, and people couldn’t wait to get in.

So, despite the fact that newly arrived guests will have to contend with some ongoing construction of the two-floor Pacini Italian Restaurant and work continuing on the Rooftop Health Club, Meadow Spa and Pools and in other locations, they will be able to embrace the building’s heritage, style and amenities.

The Moose features 174 air-conditioned rooms and suites and architectural features (“mountain architecture with hippie chic,” said Shawn Birch, director of finance and projects) such as widely used dry stacked stone, timbers, natural gas fireplaces, ironwork, a massive water feature in the entrance, hickory and solid wood cupboards, reclaimed barnwood from Pincher Creek and reclaimed timbers from the west coast. As well, distinctive moose artwork by Canmore’s Jason Carter is found throughout.

The project is now 15 months in, said Birch, and has required many local tradespeople to bring it together.

“We have a bigger picture relationship with local trades,” he said. “We’re honoured to have them in this valley. It’s been a massive project, with 43,000 square feet of stone and at times, we’ve had close to 100 tradespeople on the site.

“These are the same tradespeople who will be servicing the building in the future.”

Stone used at the site, said Birch, takes it cues from the Cascade Gardens at the Parks Administration Building. “We tried to find a heritage look that fits into Banff.”

From arrival at a covered entrance to welcoming stone and timbers in the lobby, to a philosophy of bringing the outdoors in and warm earth tones throughout, the Moose Hotel & Suites has the feel of a Rocky Mountain cabin.

Along with rooftop hot pools, sauna and covered swimming pool, possibly the most unique feature on the Moose property is the Leacock House (built in 1913), which was moved from its original location on the property to the interior courtyard. The house weighed 25,000 pounds.

The Leacock House is being refurbished, said Sean O’Farrell, director of sales and marketing. “The house really ties in the heritage of Banff. He was a professor at Mount Royal, a guide and a musician.”

The Leacock House will be open for guests to explore and will feature music, penned by Leacock himself, playing.

The ground floor is home to hotel rooms while the upper floor have one and two bedroom suites. Access to the great outdoors is ensured via views, skylights, balconies and patio access from each room.

“And it’s a good story from a local trades perspective,” said O’Farrell. “The local guys know the valley and understand building here. This is a lot of re-investment in the local economy.”

“There’s a focus on local art like Jason Carter’s,” said Geisler, “but our trades are artists as well.”

Paul Reimer from Cranbrook, B.C. created ironwork for bathroom vanities, as well as items like coat hooks in rooms. Dressers, night stands and tables were custom designed by Canmore’s Shannon Feindel and built by Greg Seeley’s Elevation Stairs and Woodwork in Canmore.

LED lighting is used throughout, there is a meeting room with yew logs forming a distinctive entry, concrete tiles on the roof and timberwork everywhere.

Architect Ted Darch’s design, said Birch, “allows you to take in what’s around you. He’s a one-man show and he has very subtle ways to do amazing things.”

July 15 has been identified as official opening day for the Moose, except the spa. Banff Lodging Company is a division of Banff Caribou Properties.

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