As you would expect, the unmatched beauty of the Canadian Rocky Mountains attracts a wide variety of interesting characters, especially over the Christmas and winter period. As a foot soldier of the food and beverage assembly line here in Lake Louise, I have mentally made note of the typical species I regularly spot dining at the hotels I have worked at and I thought now would be the perfect time to provide a rundown of a few of the most common breeds…
The Ski Bunnies
These are the sporty, super active and sickeningly in-shape people – can be families, groups of friends or couples – who are visiting the area p u r e l y to ski the shit out of the mountains. These people will spend their entire evening talking exclusively about: their day on the hill, how disappointingly easy the black diamond runs (deadly ski routes designed for the pros) are, and the impressive insulation that their latest ski-wear purchases provide.
I find these people rather difficult to make a connection with as they are often fairly uninterested in conversing and physically exhausted at dinner after a 9 hour day on the hill. Note: these are the people who, being so proud of their passion for the powder, refuse to remove their North Face beanie hat and ski pants, even for dinner in a fancy restaurant.
“Ah yes, we did go up to the hill today as a matter of fact, how ever did you guess?!”
The Straight Up Snobs
Sadly this species have been the most common creatures I have come across during my time here so far…
Skiing, snow boarding, and winter sports in general, is an expensive past time to invest in and therefore obviously attracts rich people. Now I am by no means insinuating that all rich people are snobs, but unfortunately a large majority of the rich people that come to Lake Louise, are.
There are very limited things to do in Lake Louise when you are not playing in the snow, and other than excessive drinking – particularly popular with the seasonal workers inhabiting the town – the only other thing to do is to eat in the fancy hotel restaurants; The Post Hotel, The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise etc. Hotels such as these make a killing off of these snobby people who are forking out crazy money to blag the room with the best view of the mountains and the restaurants in these hotels offer equally expensive dining experiences.
Having worked in two hotels in the area, I have become very aware of the Straight Up Snobs and can confidently sniff them out as they approach their tables. They are the ones who simply must have their wine decanted, and will loudly announce if you are doing it wrong. They are the ones who snap their fingers and demand to know what gluten free options are available for their darling Ophelia-Grace and whether 2 year old Jonathan can get a “Baby Chino”. They are the ones who speak at an embarrassingly loud volume about their various other holidays so far this year, which includes a long weekend in Switzerland with the Hawton-Motts and a short break in Bali (and it’s only January 10th.)
Needless to say, these insufferable guests are more than a little annoying. However, the average table of Straight Up Snobs will never realise they are regarded as such, as they are being waited on by a seemingly unassuming server who is tolerating all of their pretentious requests, comforted by the knowledge that they will be rewarded with an 18% tip of this revoltingly lavish check.
These are the visitors it is an absolute pleasure to come into contact with. Allow me to elaborate…
The Friendlies are the couples who are visiting the Rocky Mountains for a picturesque romantic getaway or an exciting long weekend break. And I’m not simply referring to all couples, just the super chatty, classically friendly Canadian ones. These people, despite being there as a couple, do not discourage conversation and frankly thrive off every form of it. Friendlies can range from charming young couples who engage in deep conversation and are keen to get their server’s input on almost everything, to couples who have been married 26 years and are more than happy to sit in complete silence in each others company, staring out the window in awe of their surroundings, asking you all the questions under the sun when you visit to water them.
So Calgary is just a 2 hour drive from Banff National Park and the incredible mountains, so I would say half of the customers at any given dinner service will be Calgarians who are there for a treat, splurging their bonuses on an outdoorsy weekend in the mountains. I don’t have much to say about these people other than the fact I can always identify them by their default opening line of: “So, whereabouts in Australia are you from?”
As I’ve mentioned, winter sports is an expensive hobby to have. The Quirksters are hotel guests who like to give off the impression they are mega quirky and edgy for being on holiday at a ski resort, like it’s a really outside the box idea that their mates TJ and Dexter would never think of doing. They’re typically inner-city types who rarely get outdoors and as a result can barely hack half a day on the slopes and resort to drinking in excess most evenings, so they have an excuse to miss the snow related cardio that is lined up for the following morning.
Thinking about it, were I to dine out at one of the fancy Lake Louise hotels, I would probably be quickly swept into this category…
We get a lot of French-Canadians, and as much as I love listening to them tweeting away in their native tongue, serving them can prove to be one big ball ache. In all fairness most of them speak English just as well, but standing, waiting for a table of 12 to stop bantering with each other in French, rendering you speechless and awkwardly chuckling when they appear to have got to the punchline of their 7 minute anecdote, makes me want to beg my GCSE languages teacher for forgiveness and an intense, fast track course in French.
Perk: The Frenchies like to splash out on expensive French bottles of wine = a hefty tip = a happy server.
There are obviously other breeds of human beans that come out of the woodwork and venture into the eateries of Lake Louise hotels, but they simply weren’t worth catergorising…