Luxury Hotels Brainstormed Fantasy Experiences. Now, They Offer Cenote Symphonies, Snowshoe Omakase Dinners And Underwater Ballets

A mid-winter stay at Fairmont Château Lake Louise is already a bit fantastical with its turquoise centerpiece frozen over, beckoning skaters to glide about on the ice that’s dramatically encircled by the snow-capped Rockies. For après, skaters can clop over to the rinkside Ice Bar that’s engineered with 20 blocks of ice to order belly-warming cocktails like hot chocolate spiked with a spicy chili vodka.

But now a limited number of guests at the luxury Canadian property have another, even grander, way to experience Lake Louise in all its snowy splendor: Buckling on snowshoes for a guided trek through the wilderness before arriving at a cabin for a 15-course dinner that’s inspired by the Japanese cooking style of Robatayaki wherein dishes are prepared over an open fire. After dessert, a horse-drawn sleigh chauffeurs guests back to the resort. There’s also an intermission that includes stargazing with a professional, with a warm cup of yuzu sake in hand.

The $750 per person “Fire and Ice” experience at Fairmont Château Lake Louise is part of the brand’s new “Beyond Limits” series that posed a challenge to hotels within the portfolio, asking staff members to use divergent thinking methods to dream up guest experiences that almost seem impossible to pull off and that are also are aligned with the property’s personality and reflect its natural surroundings.

The result?

Guests at Fairmont Mayakoba in Mexico’s Riviera Maya can descend 70 feet into a cenote that’s been madeover into a candlelit, stalactite-studded concert hall, with violinists strumming the tunes of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” and covering catchy songs by Ed Sheeran. At Fairmont Orchid in Waimea, Hawaii beach lovers can canoe to a platform raft, pull on snorkels and witness an underwater ballet performance by performer and free diver Kristina Makushenko, complete with music playing from a submerged speaker.

The experiences greet travelers who, after lockdowns and travel restrictions, are craving those “trips of a lifetime.”

“We pushed ourselves and our teams to go beyond everything that had been done before, and the result is a collection of experiences that are highly inventive and exclusive, that must actually be seen to be believed,” explains Jeff Doane, chief commercial officer of Accor North and Central America.

As part of the series, Fairmont Century Plaza will transform its curvaceous mid-century Los Angeles façade into a vertical dance floor for a troupe of gravity-defying performance artists; Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle puts a dark twist on high tea for its Tea Noir experience and an Enchanted Forest is popping up on Fairmont Waterfront’s garden terrace in Vancouver.

To pull off the programs, hotels have gotten creative. Fairmont Banff Springs’ partnership with Mount Norquay ski resort led to a limited-run cliffside oxygen bar at 7,000 feet that included sunset breathwork sessions in a cozy lodge with clouds made of alpaca wool. After a chef-led dinner, guests were sent back down the mountain on a chairlift with a blanket and mug of mulled wine.

At Fairmont Château Lake Louise, for the Fire and Ice dreamscape, the team reconfigured its lakeside canoe cabin, outfitting it with red washi paper lanterns and providing hand-drawn menus to accompany each course plus small surprises throughout the night like umami broth and Saskatoon berry jam cookies waiting at the cabin after the snowshoeing trek, plus sake champagne and origami on the stemware of cocktails.

More bespoke adventures are coming, including a spa day in the Puerto Rican jungle with Fairmont El San Juan Hotel; skiing with an Olympian at Fairmont Chateau Whistler; and a private cave dinner in Barbados with Fairmont Royal Pavilion.

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