Glacier Park Collection

For Canmore's Judy Westcott, it was a trip decades in the making. Together with her daughters—both busy young moms—and her 91-year-old mother, Judy took three of her favourite people for a getaway in Waterton.

"It was a challenge to get everybody together," she says. "But we all had time in the spring and decided to go for it!"

Her motivation was not just to celebrate her recent retirement. It was also to chase a childhood memory. When Judy's father was stationed south of Calgary during World War II, he sent a postcard of the Prince of Wales Hotel to his mother back in Ontario. The postcard was very dear to her parents, and Judy says she still has it.

"I looked at the postcard years ago and thought, "Wow, one day I want to go and stay there," she says. "And this was the year."

So she rallied her loved ones. Although they'd visited Waterton many years ago, they'd never stayed at the Prince of Wales. It was definitely on her bucket list.

"I love old hotels, the character and the history," Judy says. "This hotel is not a cookie cutter place—it has personality."

The Prince of Wales Hotel, with a gabled green roof with snow covered mountains behind.

A guest room with a tartan blanket draped over the bed.

After checking in to two adjoining rooms with views over the lake on the elevator-accessed fourth floor (which was essential for this group—with a pregnant woman and an elderly one), the family went into the village of Waterton for a while. Then, Judy's mom Jennie and her very-pregnant daughter Amy both wanted a short lie-down, while Judy and her other daughter Jessie wanted to explore the town a bit more. They all regrouped for dinner at the hotel's Windsor Lounge where Jennie had ordered drinks. With a bottle of wine, they settled in for dinner in front of what Judy calls a "truly incredible view".

"Just having time to be there together, without distractions, that's what matters."

"The staff was great, the food good and we were all happy," she remembers. "We all had no worries. There were no kids to clean up after. We could all just relax."

Full Moon Fever

After dinner, they relaxed in the lounge and listened to the hotel's storyteller share tales of old cowboys and infamous ghosts. The hotel is indeed rich in characters, after all!

But it was when the full moon came up over the mountain and reflected on the surface of Upper Waterton Lake that the getaway really touched Judy. She says it shone in straight through the lounge's giant windows. Later, she went out on to the Prince of Wales' famous fire escapes to see it unfiltered. "I wanted to get every moment out of it," she says.

An interpreter gives a talk in front of a tall expansive window.

"Just having time to be there together, without distractions, that's what matters," she says. "It was about being together. We were in no hurry."

Why Waterton

Judy says she was looking for a place that would appeal to each person in her group—it needed cross-generational appeal. She had a senior with some mobility issues who needed to feel comfortable and safe, and not have to travel too far from her home in Calgary. Judy, in the "middle generation", wanted some options for activities, shopping and exploring. And as a supporter of national parks, she's always been drawn to protected places. And for the young mothers, a chance to get away and relax was key.

"As a little town with a beautiful hotel that's not too far away, Waterton was excellent," she says.

They went in early season and mid-week, offering more availability for guest room options.

In the end, the trip to Waterton was just one-night away from their lives. But it was an experience they will all cherish forever.

Two women stand close together in front of the Prince of Wales Hotel, near a mountainside.

Post-script: Amy began feeling pre-labour symptoms on the drive back to Calgary from Waterton, and Judy's grandson was born three weeks later! Judy says there were actually four generations on the trip!

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