Yeah, I think you guys that lived here your whole lives don't realize how nice it is!
Coming from Toronto myself, I think even in peak tourist season Banff isn't bad. The proximity to EVERYTHING makes is a good option. Parking at the hot springs is retarded on long weekends...
Depends on what you mean by a lot to do. I think an amazing trip would be to start in Fernie, spend a few days there, experience an awesome mountain and a really cool small down. Some semi-fancy hotels but nothing really magazine worthy (unless you stayed at one of the mountain lodges for $500+ a night).
Then I'd head up through the valley and stop at the Lussier hot springs. I agree with the others here, tons of hot springs in the area, but if you want to real deal, go here. It's in the side of the mountain, right next to a stream. Two small unheated toilets are the only change rooms or facilities available, but the romance (especially if it's mid-week) of that place will be worth it.
Then I'd head to either the Banff or Lake Louise Fairmont. I stayed on the gold floor in the Banff Springs Fairmont this past December, and that's how a honeymoon should be spent. A decent room (about 250 sq ft) would be about $300 a night on that floor. You have an honour bar where you can sit by the fire and chat, play with iPads, etc. Breakfast included in the mornings, bath robes and slippers, a tin of cookies when you arrive. Luxury!
I'd use the fairmont as home base to go to Lake Louise and/or Sunshine for a day or two, and spend the rest of the time checking out Banff, taking a drive up the icefields parkway, go on a helicopter tour of the area, etc.
- if your budget is massive: Cat-boarding trip in BC complete with luxury accommodations and gourmet food.
- for the middle budget, do my trip above, and adjust the activities to suit the budget
- for the lower budget or adventure minded, Fernie will be cheaper and has a really down to earth feel. Eat dinner at the Old Barnhouse in Kimberley one night for a change. Another option for the REALLY adventurous is Skoki Lodge near Lake Louise. It's an 11 km snowshoe or cross country ski into the lodge. Rates are not bad ($150-$200 a night or so), and they cook all your meals for you. There is no power or running water in the cabin, but I've heard it's VERY beautiful!!! (Will and Kate stayed here on their visit lol)
So my vote goes for Banff/Fernie/Calgary area. I've been to Vancouver/Whistler and it was okay, but I'd get bored there. We get more sunshine, and better snow!