Discover Banff Tours
On a cloudless sunny day, the sky over the small mountain town of Banff, AB shimmers a deep royal blue. It’s a pristine backdrop for the awe-inspiring peaks of the Canadian Rockies. Discover Banff Tours calls this panorama its office. Providing visitors tour and activity packages to the area’s national parks, valleys, glaciers, and crystalline lakes, the company takes guests to some of the world’s premier sightseeing destinations in their Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Passenger Vans.
Discover Banff Tours, or DBT, began humbly in 1999. Over the years, the DBT team has made use of various vehicles, from its first leased bus, to minivans and utility vans. The Sprinter, however, was a game-changer. Miller explains, “The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter fits well with what we’re doing and the type of tour and type of service we provide to our customers.” Part-owner and general manager Daymon Miller prides himself on the company’s more intimate and personalized tours, compared to the many larger coach tours in the region. “Today, Discover Banff Tours is a much different company, but we still live by the philosophy of providing what we call small personalized tours, and that means that on every tour and activity that we offer, the guides that are out with our guests are helping them make a connection to the Rockies and the surrounding areas through the eyes of that local guide,” explains Miller.
And that personalization is found among DBT’s staff, too – Miller clearly considers them family, “Managing people is one of the hardest things, but it’s also really rewarding when you see your team step up and do really great things for the business. We have a fantastic team here. I’m really proud of them every day.” For him, the fleet of Mercedes-Benz Sprinters falls in line with his core business values: Fun and trying new things.
In order to provide a unique sightseeing experience, Miller knew he required something beyond a utility transport vehicle. He was impressed with what the Sprinter had to offer, “When I saw them, I thought, ‘This will work, this is really cool, and this is much nicer than these other vehicles we’ve ben using in the past.’ My favorite feature of the passenger van is the stand-up height, that was huge for us, so people don’t have to crouch to get in, as well as the large panoramic windows. We’re a sightseeing company, so our product isn’t just the guide delivering a tour, but what tourists can see through the window.” And it’s not just the vans’ working features that convinced Miller, “The Sprinter vans really cater to our philosophy of providing small, personalized tours, and we made a big shift this winter – we purchased four more Sprinters.”
Whether summer or winter, Miller relies on those Sprinters to give guests not just a tour, but a complete experience of comfort and safety. DBT tour guide Gina Levniach drives the Sprinters regularly and attests to their security, “When you’re doing your tours, you want the guests to feel comfortable and safe, and it’s a nice, smooth drive down those Canadian Rocky Mountain roads.” Miller is particularly pleased with the cooling and heating systems available, “There is a really robust air-conditioning and heating unit on the roof. Taking people sightseeing sometimes gets really hot, so the AC system works really nicely in that regard. And then in winter, it gets really cold, and that little pre-heater option does a lot to get the vehicles ready, so that when we pick up guests, it’s already warm. And they start really easily in the winter.”
A part of the DBT experience is the ability to take tourists to areas inaccessible by larger tour vehicles, which the Sprinters accommodate, “One of the locations nearby is called Vermillion Lakes, it’s a series of three small lakes that feed from little tributaries coming from the mountains around them. Big buses aren’t allowed down there, so it’s nice to go down with our Sprinter vans for really pretty views of Banff and the surrounding mountains. We’ll see things like elk, and then from time to time in winter we see wolves moving over the frozen lakes.”
Whether on low valley roads or high mountain passes, the Sprinter handles each with ease, allowing Miller and his team to focus on what makes Discover Banff Tours so unique – they’re fun. Miller explains, “People will come away from an activity or a sightseeing tour and they may not remember facts and figures, but they will remember that their guide Jordan was really entertaining, and they had a really great time.”