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Fairmont Authentically Local Food Experience Introduction
One of the aspects of The Fairmont President’s Club that is so unique is the issuance of certificates over traditional hotel points. Every year, members would receive a set of certificates based on their status level, including free-night, suite upgrade, and dining certificates. Furthermore, Platinum members were allowed to choose two additional benefits, ranging from electronic gift cards for hotel stays to an authentically local food experience.
Brad and I both qualified for Platinum, so in addition to the regular set of certificates, we were each able to choose two of the following:
AUTHENTICALLY LOCAL FOOD EXPERIENCE FOR TWO
DINING/WILLOW STREAM SPA E-CERTIFICATE
ROOM UPGRADE E-CERTIFICATES
SUITE UPGRADE E-CERTIFICATE
FAIRMONT ELECTRONIC GIFT CARD
In the past I always went with the electronic gift cards and the dining certificates, mainly because I had no idea what an ‘authentically local dining experience’ was. However, this year we were in Hawaii for spring break, and I decided to choose the dining certificates and food experiences for both of us as a way to ease our food budget while in Maui (The Fairmont is a couple doors down from the Marriott Wailea Beach Resort). While we used one of the food experiences at The Fairmont Kea Lani, we saved one for our anniversary dinner, which ended up being at The Fairmont Chateau Whistler when we stayed in a Gold Floor King Room for the weekend.
Authentically Local Food Experience At The Wildflower
Each hotel is a little bit different in their offerings, but most will offer a 3-course meal including appetizer, main, and dessert. Depending on where you stay, the value of this certificate can vary quite a bit. For example, using this at a city centre hotel would probably yield less value, as food prices tend to be a little bit more reasonable. Using it at a resort, particularly a resort in an expensive destination, can be very rewarding.
Platinum members using the authentically local food experience certificate have two options at The Fairmont Chateau Whistler:
- The Wildflower
- The Grill Room
We opted for The Wildflower, as the Pacific Northwest menu seemed a little bit more diverse than the steakhouse, and we thought there was a good chance of a seafood dish (The Fairmont Chateau Whistler is ‘chef’s choice’, whereas some properties allow you to just choose anything off the menu).
Our reservation was for 7:30, and we were warmly welcomed by the host in the lobby of The Fairmont Chateau Whistler. For those who haven’t been, the lobby of this hotel is really stunning, with beautiful floral arrangements and soaring ceilings with exposed beams.
The host seemed a little bit confused about our certificate use, asking first if we were using gift cards to pay for the meal. I clarified we were using an authentically local food experience certificate as part of our Fairmont President’s Club membership, though that didn’t seem to resonate with her. After an awkward couple of minutes, she showed us to our seat.
The Wildflower is a Pacific Northwest fine dining restaurant, and the decor is kind of a mix between country charm and mountain retreat. While personally not my style, the space did seem quite nice and well designed.
I wish I could say the service was better, but it just wasn’t great. I don’t know if our expectations where higher given the phenomenal service we received in The Gold Floor Lounge, but nothing about this felt particularly special. We had been asked at the door if we were celebrating anything, although that didn’t seem to translate to our server, who made no mention of our anniversary (until the end). Also, despite making a reservation well in advance, we were seated at probably the least desirable table in the dining room, right next to the path where all servers passed on their way to the kitchen.
We weren’t feeling particularly inspired by the cocktail menu, and asked the server if the bartender would be willing to create a craft cocktail with gin – something I find most mixologists are usually willing to do! The server went away, and came back offering us a gin and tonic. I kid you not. He said it was different than most as the tonic they use is less sweet. Ok….
Shortly later, the server came back and asked again if we were paying with gift cards. We explained what the authentically local food experience was, and he said he would check with the chef to see what was being offered. A moment later he came back and said it was venison. Now I’m not a picky eater, but I sure hate venison. I think he saw it on my face, and asked if there was anything else we might like. In the end, we ended up choosing steak, which was a great choice!
The meal service began with a small plate of house bread, which was delicious.
Out next was the appetizer consisting of smoked sablefish and root vegetables, which was really good. Sablefish is one of my favourites, but I had never tried it smoked – it was delicious!
Between the appetizer and the main is where service really took a nosedive. Shortly before bringing out our steak, the server came by for an awkward conversation:
Server: I understand you’re using an authentically local food experience certificate, but how will you be paying for the rest of the bill? Your drinks aren’t included.
Me: Uhm… Charge it to my room? Or I can use my American Express. Whatever’s easier I guess…
Server: Ok, because ya, this will cover the food but there are extras, like your cocktails and gratuity.
Me: Ok, no problem!
I’m not sure if we were profiled as people who didn’t have $50 for cocktails and a tip, or if the server was just genuinely concerned about not getting his gratuity, but I thought that asking mid-meal was beyond tacky.
Anyway, awkwardness aside, the main dish consisting of Pemberton Meadows dry aged ribeye was fantastic, and cooked a perfect medium rare. I did find it a bit odd that both the main and appetizer were served with root vegetables, but luckily I’m a fan.
Dessert was next, which included a few samplers from the kitchen, with the berry mousse (left) being the highlight. There was also mention of our anniversary on the plate, which I guess is why they ask at the door.
The server came by with the bill, and initiated one last awkward conversation to end the evening:
Server: Alright gentlemen, thanks for joining us. Here’s the bill.
Me: Thank you so much – everything was delicious. We really enjoyed ourselves.
Server: Just so you know, the total owed is at the bottom, but that doesn’t include what the food would have cost if you weren’t using your authentically local food experience certificate. The price for that can be seen above but it’s not included in the total.
Me: Ohhh, ok. Thanks for that…
I guess he thought we were cheap, as he seemed genuinely worried we would tip only on the price of our cocktails, and not the full price. In the end I gave 20% of what the entire bill would have been, but only out of obligation. Had he been more worried about providing fantastic service without being so obvious about his gratuity, I probably would have left 30%.
Authentically Local Food Experience At The Wildflower Bottom Line
Overall we both really enjoyed our food at The Wildflower, though the server needs to work on being a bit more discrete when fishing for a tip. In case you were wondering, the food cost for these two dinners was $168, which ended up being a very good use of our certificate.
Would I pay retail prices for the food? Probably, but for that price the service needs to be better. I would rate the food a 9/10, and would suggest a better variety of sides, and not just root vegetables, while the service was about a 5/10. I found the server to be friendly, but definitely not polished, which should be expected at this price point. Also, the bartender seemed completely disinterested in making us a cocktail, which is completely opposite of what happened when there was a discrepancy with the menu at The Four Seasons Hotel Seattle. That bartender was fantastic!
The second set of Fairmont certificates is set to post July 2 for those who had two qualifying stays between January and July of this year, and the big question is whether or not these additional Platinum benefits will be made available, including the locally authentic food experience. I sure hope so!
Where do you plan on using your authentically local food experience certifcate this year if you haven’t already? Let us know in the comment section below!