“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien
Hotel chains have shown they can be awfully good at providing a sense of sameness. Assurances were enthusiastically delivered to travelers that waking up anywhere from Boston to Beijing would mean the same check-in procedures, the same guest room interiors, the same room service menus.
Rejecting Cookie Cutter
Travelers want none of that now. They have rejected cookie cutter guarantees in favor of immersion in the absolutely unique qualities of places. How far away can we get from the sameness to achieve a meaningful and memorable sense of place is the question being addressed in the marketing suites. How is your property staying ahead of the curve?
Four Seasons has come up with an answer in “Extraordinary Experiences.” Of course, this solution needs a hyper-local response from each of the participating hotels. And, boy, do they deliver. This stuff shines like a team of concierges with magic wands.
Not only does a participating Four Seasons property put their comp set on high alert, but the impact of this program can have wider ramifications, too. Flip the search parameters and put the experience ahead of the destination for some outside-the-box thinking. Couldn’t it be that a curated adventure drives the choice of destination? “Explore by type of experience,” the micro-site at Four Seasons suggests. And, they incorporate some important environmental causes along the way.
What’s on offer? Here’s a sampling from Las Vegas, Budapest, Paris, Mexico, Thailand, Costa Rica and Houston.
Think food: Cook a customized five-course meal with celebrity Chef Charlie Palmer in his Las Vegas steakhouse; take dinner for two served onstage at the neo-Renaissance Hungarian State Opera House while serenaded by a string ensemble (!)
Think wine: Travel by private helicopter to José Cuervo distillery from Punta Mita, Mexico for the ultimate tequila tour; descend 46 feet beneath the pavements of Paris into the private cellars of the George V for wine tastings and pairings with the hotel’s sommelier.
Think trek: The day begins with a bareback elephant ride along the Mekong River at sunrise and ends by sharing a splash with these gentle giants in a bathing pool. Guests‘ efforts are helping Four Seasons to support a Golden Triangle camp providing for elephants rescued from roaming in the streets of Thailand.
Think outer space: On a clear night in Costa Rica, see the astounding southern sky through a powerful GPS-guided telescope while being served cocktails and culinary treats infused with real meteorite dust. They call it “Taste the Stars.” Guests go home with souvenir shoots uploaded onto their personal mobile device.
Think hoops: Go one-on-one with Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon, one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. Get tips from the Houston Rockets’ star, tour Houston Toyota Center, have a private lunch with Olajuwon and join him for a limo ride to Olajuwon’s DR34M business empire at The West Mansion.