Prince derails Louis's dream

MAJESTIC: The Prince of Wales Hotel commands grand views from its hilltop site overlooking Waterton Lake and village amid Canada’s Rockies.
MAJESTIC: The Prince of Wales Hotel commands grand views from its hilltop site overlooking Waterton Lake and village amid Canada’s Rockies. National Parks Canada

FOR a highly successful businessman, the American railway magnate Louis Hill could be remarkably indecisive.

But he had a quick eye for a dollar and it was this that generally saved him from his own indecisiveness.

In the early 1900s, his quest for the greenback saw Mr Hill turn his attention to the Canadian Rockies, where he reasoned that there were some quick profits to be had from those enjoying the newly-founded Waterton Lakes National Park in the province of Alberta.

And to indulge their passion for hunting and fishing in this grand new wilderness, he decided to build them a grand hotel that would cater to their every whim, coupled with a luxury rail service to get them there.

He would call his hotel The Prince of Wales in an unsuccessful bid to have the visiting Prince (later King Edward VIII) officially open it. It would have 200 rooms with breathtaking views and the sort of service that, while not out in the field, would encourage leisurely hours wining and dining in an almost fairytale setting.

But although he first mooted his hotel in 1913, between his own indecisiveness and the Canadian bureaucracy, it was not until 1926 that he actually started building it.

And when he was nearly finished the long, low, three-storey affair with spectacular views overlooking Waterton Lake and Village, Mr Hill suddenly decided he didn't like the look of it.

So he had half of it pulled down, and a fresh start made. Upwards.

Then, after a business trip to Europe he decided he didn't like the look of the top of his hotel.

So he had that pulled down, too, and re-built it to look more like a Swiss Alpine chalet. He also increased the size of rooms and, in the process, reduced their number from 200 to a more luxurious 87.

The Prince of Wales Hotel is a good base for fishing, hiking, horseback-riding, golf and scheduled lake cruising – or just taking-in the views – and is easily accessible by road in summer months. Just accept that it was built in 1927.

Canada & Alaska Specialist Holidays have packages to the Prince of Wales Hotel.

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Topics:  alaska america canada trac consulting travelling

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