Why I Love Suggesting Rocky Mountaineer Train Trips to My Clients
If you’ve asked me to surprise you with a vacation suggestion, you know that I am obsessed with Rocky Mountaineer.
I have never had a client who did not come back raving from their experience with Rocky Mountaineer. One of the best things about working with Rocky Mountaineer is the flexibility. I’d done trips with Rocky Mountaineer that end in the cruise terminal in Vancouver and then clients board their ship for an Alaskan cruise (you can even book it all together in one package if you want to sail on Holland America as they have an agreement with Rocky Mountaineer). I’d done trips where clients have an organized tour built around the train portion, getting to stay at unbelievable locations like the Fairmont Lake Louise or the Fairmont Jasper. I’ve also done trips where ONLY the 2 day train portion of the Rocky Mountaineer package is purchased and clients are completely independent for the rest of the time. I’ve also done trips which I consider the best of both worlds – a self-drive Rocky Mountaineer package – you’ll be provided with the luxury hotel bookings and a rental car, and then spend a few days exploring the area before joining the Rocky Mountaineer train for the 2 or 3 day train portion. However your travel style, you’re sure to find something you love with Rocky Mountaineer.
Let me back up a bit and explain what Rocky Mountaineer is, who it’s best suited for, and examples of the types of trips you can take.
One of the most stunning locations in North America, the Canadian Rockies are home to five national parks and are considered a UNESCO heritage site. Rocky Moutaineer is a luxury train company that organizes tours and train trips along the 1885 Canada Pacific Highway tracks. Rocky Mountaineer’s custom-designed, all-dome fleet ensures unparalleled views of Western Canada’s spectacular scenery through areas unreachable by cars or other tour operators.
Rocky Mountaineer only travels during the day. You do not sleep onboard. They don’t want you to miss a single bit of scenery, so they stop in Kamloops in the evening and put you up in a hotel before continuing the next day (all Rocky Mountaineer voyages are minimum 2 full days). Along the way, your voyage is completely seamless – for instance, at the aforementioned hotel stop, your luggage will appear in your room and you’ll be transported to/from the train – no worrying about where you’re going next or where you will be sleeping that evening.
Although many Rocky Mountaineer packages are several days long, not all travel is on the train. Depending what route you take, you may have 2 days onboard the train and then the rest are guided tours (or self drive) between the famous places unreachable by rail.
All your meals are included. The chef-created cuisine onboard Rocky Mountaineer is of the highest standard, inspired by fresh Western Canadian ingredients, and keeps even the most discerning palates happy. Drinks are included as well – there are no opportunities to upcharge you or “nickel and dime” you onboard!
There are two classes of service, but make no mistake both are luxury experiences! All classes of service include:
• Reclining, comfortable pre-assigned seating with ample leg room
• Complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages throughout journey
• Gourmet snacks
• Full storytelling from Hosts – they’ll even slow the train down to spot bears or elk or other wildlife from onboard!
• Complimentary baggage delivery to hotels in Whistler, Quesnel, and Kamloops
The Silverleaf class of service is a single-level coach with meal service at your seat and oversized glass dome views are available. Each carriage will have 2 Rocky Mountaineer hosts aboard.
The Goldleaf class of service has full glass dome views on the 2nd level, with a seperate dining area on the 1st level. It also has an exclusive outdoor viewing platform. Each carriage will have 3-4 hosts onboard.
Stunning hotels await you! “Even” with Silverleaf service, the quality of hotels will blow you away. Depending on the availability, you have the opportunity to stay in the iconic Fairmonts like the Fairmont Banff Springs or the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, one of the most emblematic and photographed hotels in the world. Goldleaf service guests will have lakeview rooms and additional amenities where possible.
Flexibility…flexibility…flexibility. Almost everything is able to be customized especially when working with a travel agent like myself. For instance, last year I had clients who booked the Silverleaf Class of travel but then I quoted them a package that included staying at the Goldleaf level hotels, so their onboard experience was Silver but their hotel experience was Gold. You can also add in breakfasts, or even dinners at any of the hotels. Some levels of service include free airport transfers, and many promotions include early booking bonuses and/or free hotel nights (another reason to work with a travel agent, because I can download a current list of all the specials to make finding the perfect package even easier for you!).
Three seasons to choose from… The Rocky Mountaineer season runs from April – October. You can choose between watching the mountains bloom into spring, witness baby animals and long daylight hours in the summer, or hope to catch a glimpse of salmon-hunting bears in the fall. (Hint: spring and autumn are also great ways to avoid the summer crowds at the national parks.)
Different itineraries: There are over 65 different combinations to choose from, but I definitely do not overwhelm clients by sending them all 65! I listen to what they want to see, which towns they have a preference for (for instance, is Whistler vs Jasper a priority?), and when they want to travel. Then I work with the clients to let them know about their best options to suit their needs.
There are four major routes (train tracks). The Coastal Passage allows you start in Seattle, before stopping in Vancouver and then continuing through the Rockies. The Rainforest to Gold Rush makes sure you pass through Vancouver, Whistler, Quesnel, and Jasper. The Journey through the Clouds is one of the most popular and goes from Jasper to Vancouver. And the First Passage to the West ensures you see Lake Louise and Banff.
All routes can be taken in either direction.
Rocky Mountaineer recently added some enhancements to some itineraries and called them Adventure and Culinary Packages. On those trips, you’ll have additional opportunities to go canoeing, explore glaciers in a zodiac boat, participate in food tours, and more.
You can also do Circle Journeys which bring back to your point of departure (such as Calgary or Vancouver) as a roundtrip.
Sample Itinerary – Journey Through The Clouds At Leisure
Here’s just one example of how the itineraries and packages can all come together. The noted activities are already included in your package price.
DAY 1: Arrive in Vancouver and spend time exploring this scenic city on your own. Overnight in Vancouver.
DAY 2: Travel onboard the Rocky Mountaineer from the coastal city of Vancouver to Kamloops, in the heart of British Columbia’s interior. On today’s journey you will see dramatic changes in scenery, from the lush green fields of the Fraser Valley, through forests and winding river canyons surrounded by the peaks of the Coast and Cascade Mountains, to the desert-like environment of the BC Interior. Highlights include the rushing waters of Hell’s Gate in the Fraser Canyon and the steep slopes and rock sheds along the Thompson River. Your day concludes as the Rocky Mountaineer travels along the shores of Kamloops Lake into Kamloops. Overnight in Kamloops. Please note that all accommodation in Kamloops is of moderate standard. Breakfast and lunch will be served onboard.
DAY 3: Your journey continues north and east to the mighty Canadian Rockies and the province of Alberta. Once again you will be surrounded by dramatic scenery as you follow the banks of the North Thompson River through the Monashee and Cariboo Mountains, climbing ever nearer to the high peaks of the Continental Divide. Today’s highlights include Mount Robson, at 3,954 metres (12,972 feet) the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, Pyramid Falls, and the climb over the Yellowhead Pass into Jasper National Park. Your rail journey ends this evening on arrival in the resort town of Jasper. Breakfast and lunch will be served onboard.
DAY 4: Jasper National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Canadian Rockies’ largest national park. Today you will enjoy a scenic half-day tour of some of the park’s natural attractions and rugged peaks, and perhaps catch a glimpse of the wildlife that calls this region home. The remainder of the day is free for you to explore more of Jasper independently. Overnight in Jasper.
DAY 5: Travel to Lake Louise via one of the most scenic highways in the world, the Icefields Parkway. Among the highlights are Bow Lake, the Columbia Icefield, Glacier Skywalk and Athabasca Falls. The Columbia Icefield is one of the largest accumulations of ice south of the Arctic Circle and one of the most accessible icefields in North America. Here you will ride on an Ice Explorer to the middle of the Athabasca Glacier to learn more about its geological features. Lunch is included at the Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre. Afterwards, a brief stop will be made at Bow Lake before arriving in Lake Louise this afternoon. Overnight in Lake Louise.
DAY 6: Enjoy a free day in Lake Louise. Local activities include canoeing, hiking in the mountains or simply relaxing and taking in the magnificent views. Overnight in Lake Louise.
DAY 7: This morning you are free to explore beautiful Lake Louise on your own. After lunch, a half-day tour takes you into Yoho National Park to view some of its natural wonders. Among the attractions are the Spiral Tunnels, Emerald Lake and a natural rock bridge that spans the Kicking Horse River. At the end of the tour you will be transferred to Banff. Overnight in Banff.
DAY 8: Today you will have an entire day to spend exploring Banff National Park on your own. Optional activities include soaking in the mineral pools at Upper Hot Springs, enjoying a nature walk on nearby mountain trails, visiting Banff’s historic museums, cruising on Lake Minnewanka or playing a round of golf at The Fairmont Banff Springs. Overnight in Banff.
DAY 9: Today you will enjoy a full-day tour concluding in Calgary. Begin the morning with a sightseeing tour of Banff. Among the points of interest are Bow Falls, Lake Minnewanka, Surprise Corner and the Hoodoos. Banff Gondola included. Continue on to Kananaskis for the highlight of today’s adventure, a 12-minute Panoramic Helicopter Tour over the remarkable landscape of the Rockies. Overnight in Calgary.
DAY 10: Your vacation ends upon checkout from your Calgary hotel.