Where in the world would you get a once-in-a-lifetime trip with unbelievable photos and memorable experiences? Canada, of course! From sea to sky; the range of scenes when travelling is almost too good to be true.
Club Tours By Wyndham offer a Canada & Alaska tour exclusively for WorldMark South Pacific Club Owners. As a part of your Travel Club team, I was lucky enough to accompany Owners on the most recent Canada & Alaska Club Tour. Follow in our footsteps…
Interested in a Club Tour to Canada & Alaska, or want to see more destinations? Head to worldmarksp.com/clubtours.
Arriving in Vancouver, excited to start the experience, I meet up with the 31 Owners travelling from all over Australia and New Zealand. We are all buzzing with excitement as we join our Trafalgar tour guide and bus driver for our first day.
We start our tour in Victoria on Vancouver Island, with an English countryside feel, and spend the day by the harbour where the Empress Hotel, Parliament Building and Royal British Columbia Museum are located. If you have the time, jump on one of the Harbour Tours that are done in little tug boats.
Victoria is also home to the Butchart Gardens, an iconic destination with 55 acres of gardens that receives close to a million visitors every year.
Next stop Vancouver; a picturesque city that offers all types of activities -from the nightlife to the outdoors.
Take a bike ride around the beautiful Stanley Park; the bike path uses the seawall as a route providing endless views of the North Shore Mountains and Lions Gate Bridge. Also stop and view the totem poles where explanations are offered at the bottom for their stories.
A morning city tour kick starts the next day for ideas on how to take advantage of our free afternoon and next day. Wander through the city starting at Canada Place where the cruise ships come into Vancouver (I would absolutely recommend the FlyOver Canada attraction which offers state-of-the-art technology to reveal some of Canada’s most awe-inspiring sights as you have never seen them before).
About a ten minute walk away is the quirky Gastown full of unusual shops and eateries. Don’t miss out on the Steam Clock that sounds every fifteen minutes by a whistle chime and puffs steam on the hour.
If you are a shopper, Robson Street is a must with several department stores available such as Nordstrom, Holt Review and Hudson Bay. With an exceptional range of shops in the streets and the Pacific Centre Mall, this makes for a great shopping experience.
Don’t forget to also visit Granville Island for a market-like adventure of fresh food and locally made items such as jewellery and more. Easily somewhere you could happily get lost for a couple of hours; I would definitely go on an empty stomach to indulge in the fantastic range of food from fresh fruit to sweet pastries, and even hot meals.
With so many attractions in Vancouver; I would absolutely recommend the Capilano Suspension Bridge and Grouse Mountain which can both be done in a day – especially during the summer months. Brave the suspension bridge that links two peaks across a valley or the glass walk down the side of the mountain(!), and then get on the gondola at Grouse Mountain to reach the top where two grizzly bears are in residence along. Keep an eye out for a comedic lumberjack show and birds of prey demonstration!
It’s a bittersweet feeling, leaving Vancouver but this is quickly diminished as we are about to board the Rocky Mountaineer! Two days of absolute luxury travelling from Vancouver to Kamloops and on to Banff.
The Rocky Mountaineer is the epitome of luxury as you are waited on hand and foot for the two day journey. The scenery along the way is spectacular and changes from arid desert to lush greenery within the two days.
The train journey is one of the best ways to make your way to Banff; you can relax and enjoy the day, be fed and watered at a drop of the hat and come across views like no other.
Upon arrival into Banff in the evening, it is time to check into the hotel and go straight to bed. It can be very tiring doing nothing but enjoying the Rocky Mountaineer!
Banff is a quaint town with the spectacular mountain range as a backdrop. Whilst in Banff, definitely find the time to visit the Banff Springs Hotel, Bow River and Sulphur Mountain. When visiting Sulphur Mountain; take the gondola up to the peak where you will feel like you are standing at the very top of the world. If you are brave, take the walk to the peak, or simply enjoy the views comfortably from the Café at the top.
From Banff, we take a picturesque route towards Jasper via Lake Louise.
Lake Louise is one of the most used photos when promoting Canada and it is easy to see why upon arrival at this iconic lake with the Fairmont Lake Louise in the background. Turquoise blue water against two mountains with lush green forestry surrounding the lake makes for fantastic photographs. If you have the time, take a walk around the lake on either one of two routes.
From Lake Louise, we take a scenic drive towards Icefields Parkway – specifically the Athabasca Glacier. A quick check-in at the main centre before jumping on an Ice Explorer vehicle for a 7 minute drive to the glacier.
The glaciers are receding every year due to a change in weather patterns, but it certainly does not disappoint once you step on to the glacier itself. After some time on the glacier, we get taken back down to the main centre before transferring to the skywalk, a glass-floor observation platform overlooking a 280m drop. A stunning walk across the glass-floor platform includes an audio tour.
From here we make our way to Jasper, staying in the heart of Jasper National Park. We are advised that it is rutting season for elk and to watch out for them but alas no sightings much to our dismay.
After enjoying a wildlife presentation with a local specialist in the morning, we head off to Maligne Lake for a cruise to Spirit Island. Spirit Island enjoys worldwide reputation and is one of the most famous and photographed views of the Canadian Rockies.
In the afternoon; a group of us opt in to do a rafting trip down Bow River, a fairly relaxing journey apart from the small rapids that our guide aims for to get us all drenched! The river is glacier fed where the water is always between 3 to 7 degrees Celsius. The smiles and laughter are evident with everyone at the end of the journey as we squelch back on the bus.
From Jasper; we head to Sun Peaks for a night with a short stop to admire Mount Robson, the Rockie’s tallest peak at 12,989 feet (3,959 metres). Here, we see a moose, one of the most elusive animals… the only hiccup is that it is a fake!
Before leaving Jasper, we have two quick stops at Lake Patricia and Pyramid Lake. The day was clear and bright with no wind, which made for exemplary circumstances for almost mirror images when photographing the lakes.
Sun Peaks is a beautiful alpine ski resort town that also has a wide range of summer activities such as biking and hiking. As a group, we have a delicious dinner at the hotel restaurant before retiring for the night.
Heading towards Whistler after our time in Sun Peaks, we enjoy a ride through some of the most beautiful scenery in Canada along the remote Duffy Lake Road.
Whistler is a town north of Vancouver, British Columbia, that’s home to Whistler Blackcomb, one of the largest ski resorts in North America.
We make our way to the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre for a morning of brilliant educational information with a First Nation local.
From here, we head to the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola where we go up Whistler Mountain and cross on the suspended gondola to Blackcomb. This is a great way to hopefully see bears (there are over 60 bears that live across both mountains), as long as you can look down through the journey between both peaks.
The rest of the day is at our leisure to enjoy the Whistler Village and try for a photo op at the Olympic Rings from the 2010 Winter games.
Tonight, we enjoy our last night on the tour with a farewell dinner at 21 Steps; fantastic food and wonderful company make for an unforgettable memory.
Making our way from Whistler to Vancouver, we have a couple of stops at Shannon Falls and Horseshoe Bay. At this stage, I have lost count of the number of photos I have taken, none of which do any of the areas any justice. A quick hike at Shannon Falls and coffee stop at Horseshoe Bay extends our morning before arriving into Vancouver.
Upon our arrival, our Owners are dropped off at Canada Place to start the second part of their trip on an Alaskan Cruise – either with Holland American or Princess (with a Denali National Park extension).
This is the end of my time with the Canada & Alaska Club Tour which has been an absolutely memorable experience.
I highly recommend booking this Club Tour (it sells out early!), as well as heading to worldmarksp.com/clubtours to view some of the other Club Tour destinations on offer. You can also register for one of our regular Club Tour Information Evenings to learn more, or contact us for a quote.
Until next trip!