Brewster sets sights high

When young Jim and Bill Brewster, then only 10 and 12 years old, started guiding guests on horseback around the illustrious Banff Springs Hotel in 1892, little did they know that one day their name would grace Western Canada's largest tour company.

Brewster has grown a lot over the past 115 years or so, and it's been getting even bigger over the past year. MCI recently delivered an order of four D4505 coaches to serve Brewster's Columbia Icefield Experience. That's in addition to about 60 coaches, increasingly MCIs, that serve the company's sightseeing tours. The fleet that serves the Columbia Icefield also shuttles tourists to the Banff Gondola and Lake Minnewanka Lake Cruises, all of which are Brewster-owned, along with the Mount Royal Hotel and Icefield Chalet.

For its tours of the Rockies and Western Canada, Brewster relies on luxury models, including eight MCI J4500s bought in March and fitted with leather seating, six-screen DVD system, backup cam and other high-end bells and whistles.

Brewster's association with MCI goes way back — both were owned at one time by Greyhound Lines, which meant that Brewster ran MCIs almost exclusively from the time that the Brewster family sold the business in 1965 until 1996, when the VIAD Corp bought it. Today, Brewster chooses MCIs solely because it likes them.

"The product is great," says Maribeth Wilson, charter manager. "Everyone has their favorites, but in my opinion, [the J4500s] are the nicest coaches we have, and the drivers feel the same way. They have a lot of curb appeal."

Like many successful operators, Brewster knows that a bus is only as good as its driver. The company prides itself on finding drivers with a unique commitment to what they do. "Most of our drivers have been with us for several years," says Joanna Buckingham, sales and marketing manager. "We have mountain climbers, hikers and artists. They all share a passion for the area, and it's very personal. They want to make sure customers have the best experience possible."

Jim and Bill Brewster would be proud.

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