I’ve gotten some e-mail comments now and then that we seem to favor small and intimate hotels over the big and brash ones when it comes to which ones we cover in the Luxury Latin America hotel reviews. In a sense, this is a fair observation, because to us the main thing that differentiates a true luxury hotel from one that just claims to be is not how long the amenity list is, but how the staff and management goes about anticipating and meeting the needs of well-heeled, experienced travelers. The smaller hotels tend to focus intensely on service, while the largest ones focus on making it easy for business travelers and conventioneers to get work done.
There are plenty of exceptions, of course, which brings me to a hotel that has nothing to do with Latin America, the Fairmont Banff Springs in Alberta, Canada. I spent a night there recently and came away wishing it could have been three or four nights instead. The place is a maze that takes a day to figure out, but once you get beyond that they really do get almost everything right. Sure, it’s huge and there was a convention going on while I was there, but the staff did an impeccable job throughout my stay, the facilities are really well maintained despite the age, and it’s hard to beat this view out the window, which a majority of the rooms have.
I stayed at two other Fairmonts as well recently and while the others can’t match the Banff Springs one for the wow factor, the chain has a solid operation that’s a clear notch above the far and wide business hotel chains like Marriott and Sheraton. Back in Latin America, the company does have a few resorts in Mexico that we have reviewed: