Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Temptation Tuesday - The Magic of Banff

Today PHS editor Donna Alward takes us on a virtual vacation of her latest setting....

I thought about blogging about travel plans, but then I realized that I'm really not going anywhere soon that is worth blogging about. So then I thought, what about settings? And I realized that my June release is different from most of my books, which up to this point mostly take part in rural Alberta. Usually wide open spaces with a view of the mountains.

But for Hired: The Italian's Bride , I stopped looking at the Rockies and immersed the book within them. This book is a little different from my others. There's not a cowboy in sight. Nope, this is an office romance, but one that I hope is filled with the same kind of deep emotion and appeal that I try to bring to all my books.

My characters are in the hotel business, so where better to put them than in Banff, Alberta? Banff is renowned the world over for its beauty and the variety of activities available to its guests - whether it be back country hiking or a day at the spa being pampered with the latest in treatments. It's a local pub and fine dining at its best. It's skiing and Hot Springs and a wonderful place to fall in love. It's a short drive to Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, up the Icefields Pathway to some of the most stunning vistas in the world. The glacier fed lakes are heartbreakingly blue and green - as vibrant as a peacock's feather. The first time I visited I was simply in awe.

When I lived in Calgary, we visited Banff several times a year. Banff Avenue is the main drag, and the Bow River disects the town. We would often browse the boutiques lining the avenue, making sure we stopped at Bernard Callebaut for chocolate and usually the Spirit of Christmas store no matter what time of year we were there. Lunch was traditionally at the Banff Springs Hotel.

The Banff Springs is a hotel like no other, and there are aspects of it that I brought to creating the Fiori Cascade in Hired: The Italian's Bride , especially the interior. While the Cascade is smaller and slightly more intimate, the opulence was something I definitely wanted to translate.

We never did eat in the formal dining room. We used to dine in the Rundle Room before they renovated it, and after that we would lunch at the Bow Valley Grill - in fact, the first time I met PHS columnist Biddy, we ate lunch there. It is more casual, but delicious and the dessert selection to die for.

All around the hotel you get a fabulous view, but my favourite was going out on the balcony and looking down over the winding Bow River and golf course. It was this view I had in mind when Luca and Mari are having coffee in the very first chapter!

The Hot Springs are at the pinnacle of town, and just before you arrive there the Rimrock Hotel is on the left. From the front, the Rimrock does not look imposing at all. But that's because it's nearly part of the mountain itself. (We've lunched there as well). The construction of the Rimrock always intrigued me.

The trip was never complete without a stop at Bow Falls. Especially in the spring time during runoff, the falls are spectacular. They are not very high, but the force of the water is truly wonderful.

I think what makes Banff so wonderful is that it is surrounded by some of the most beautiful nature on earth, but at it's core it is a town dedicated to pampering its guests and enjoyment in all its flavours.

I couldn't think of a better place for Mari and Luca.

Donna's next release is Hired: The Italian's Bride , due out on June 9 and available at eharlequin beginning May 1!
Romantic Times Reviews gave it a four rating and had this to say: "A lovely setting, well-written characters and a completely believable conflict make for an engaging read."


  1. Loved the pictures. I now have another place to add to my list of places to visit. Have a great day.

  2. No fair - you shouldn't be able to post pics like that without offering free travel and accomodation - or at least some winning lotto numbers!

    Looks lovely!

  3. I spent my honeymoon up near Baniff and it is truly a special place around there.

  4. Ahhh that takes me back! I loved Banff its a great place to stay and the bonus was you driving up from Calgary for lunch. I'm so glad you did. Miss you!

  5. Wonderful capture of the magic of Banff, Donna. Would you believe I was just there on the weekend? I attended a conference on creative nonfiction writing at the Banff Centre. It snowed much of the time, but it didn't take away at all from the majesty of the mountains. Nor the neverending appeal of the place.

    As you know, I am waiting (almost breathlessly) for the release of Hired: The Italian's Bride.

    Michelle, I was married in Banff. I met my husband on a day trip to Banff from Calgary that was arranged by a mutual acquaintance. It became our favourite place to go.

    Thanks for the memories you evoked for me today, Donna!

  6. Thank you Hazel! I heard the weather that way was not great last weekend. But Banff is magical no matter what.

    And Biddy- you know I was nervous going to meet you and then we talked and talked...it was very good for the diet as I ate far less than usual.

    Becca and Housemouse - it IS lovely, and I hope you get to see it in person someday! Until then you can always grab Hired: The Italian's Bride...LOL!

  7. Wow the pictures make Banff look gorgeous, may have to stray from my usual city-girl thing and go there one day.

    And can I just add, your hero has the same name as my youngest son! And I gave it to him cos one of my friends said to me when I was trying out names on her before the birth. 'Oh yes, Luca is definitely the name of a boy you can imagine fancying at school.' so there you go. Great choice!

  8. Heidi - Banff is dedicated to treating its tourists well so the city girl in you would be quite happy I think. Plus Calgary is only an hour away - and it has over a million people so no need to feel isolated!

    I'm still not sure what I think about giving a child a name that makes them "fanciable". I have girls... LOL.

  9. Hi Donna,

    Late to the party...my husband and I spent part of our honeymoon at the Banff Springs hotel. Maybe a week? My favorite memory--okay, that's a lie, I have too many great memories for there to be a favorite--but a really great memory is that there was a fire alarm around dawn one morning. I'm a rule-follower so despite other guests saying it was safe to go back to bed, my husband and I evacuated. We stood on the front steps of the hotel and watched the sun rise. So gorgeous.

    Sometime I'll tell you about the guy with the scotch cart. He did not endear himself to me. ;-)