This is an amazing opportunity to save 25% on any stay in Canada booked directly with Fairmont! Best of all, this promotion can be stacked with most promotional rates already offered by the hotel, such as:
- Early booking and prepaid discounted rates
- Non-refundable/flexible rates
- Special rates that include parking, resort credit, etc
- CAA/AAA discounted rates
There is a bit of a process that requires about 24 hours advance notice to purchase the Fairmont gift certificates, but thankfully it’s relatively straightforward and certainly worth the effort!
Costco sells $100 Life Experiences gift cards online for $74.99, which can then be redeemed for a variety of services on the Life Experiences website. What is Life Experiences? Their website describes themselves as a Canadian experience provider with over 800 unique redemption options. Most importantly, though, are the $100 Fairmont gift certificates that can be purchased at face value using the discounted Life Experiences certificate purchased at Costco.
What’s the catch? Like anything, there are a few caveats to consider before rushing out and buying $10,000 worth of Life Experiences gift certificates:
- The Fairmont gift certificates purchased through Life Experiences are valid at Canadian Fairmont properties only
- The process is a bit convoluted… first you need to purchases life experiences gift cards online at Costco.ca, then you need to wait for the vouchers to be activated (generally 6-24 hours), at which point you can redeem them for Fairmont gift certificates on the Life Experiences website (detailed process below)
- A maximum of 10 Fairmont gift certificates purchased through Life Experiences can be used per stay ($1000CAD/stay)
- Fairmont gift certificates can’t be used to purchase physical gift cards and can’t be used on the Fairmont eStore, and can only be applied to the final bill (incidentals, spa, dining included)
- Not applicable to third party, pre-paid bookings (online travel agencies such as Expedia) – must be booked directly through Fairmont
- Not applicable to American Express Fine Hotel and Resort reservations, as they must be paid in-full with an American Express card
How To Buy
As mentioned above, the purchase process is a bit convoluted, involving a couple of steps on two different websites. First, visit Costco.ca and search for ‘life experiences’ from the home search bar.
There should be only one search result, which is the Life Experiences gift card for $74.99.
Select as many as you want for your cart and check-out as you would for any regular online purchase. It should be noted that Costco memberships are not required for this online purchase and the e-certificates are not available for purchase in-store.
Here’s where things get a little strange. First, Costco will email you the standard purchase confirmation. Shortly after, you will get another email with a link to your online certificates. Clicking on the link will open a very dated screen to retrieve your Life Experiences certificate. Don’t be alarmed – this is normal.
Clicking on the link will open another page with your e-certificate number(s). If you ordered more than one, they will all be available through this page.
The certificate number and pin are what you’ll need to purchase a Fairmont certificate through the Life Experiences website (in the above example I’ve erased the number and pin for security reasons). I find it easiest to keep this page open when shopping on the Life Experiences website, as I can just copy and paste the certificate numbers into the payment area later.
Now that you’ve received your certificate number and pin, it’s time to purchase a Fairmont certificate. Unfortunately, there is a delay between the certificate being emailed and becoming activated for use. The website says there is a 24-48 hour delay for activation, but in my experience (3 times), they’ve been ready for use after about 6 hours. To check for card activation, simply go to Lifeexperiences.ca and find the ‘click to check card balance’ box near the top right side of the homepage.
To check balance and activation status, input your certificate number and pin. You can check multiple cards at once, if applicable.
When your cards are activated, return to the homepage and search for ‘Fairmont’ in the search bar near the top right hand side of the screen.
The search results will populate various options for golf, dining, etc, with the $100 gift certificate available as one of the selections.
Click on the ‘Fairmont Hotels & Resorts – $100 Gift Certificate’ to add to your cart.
From the next screen you can adjust the number of certificates you wish to purchase, and apply any applicable gift certificates. Underneath the product area, select ‘pay with gift card/certificate’ and enter your certificate number and pin. Once it shows the available balance, hit apply, and you should notice the total price at the bottom of the screen change to reflect the certificate application. You can apply multiple certificates in a single transaction by clicking ‘Add Another Card’.
Since the shopping cart and checkout screen are on the same page, you will also need to include the name and email address of the Fairmont gift certificate recipient. I think this business is designed to send e-gifts but you can send it to yourself without any issue.
Because my gift certificate covered the entire purchase, there is no need to enter credit card information on the payment screen.
After submitting your order, you should receive a confirmation page as follows:
The hard part is over. Now just wait for an email from life experiences with your attached PDF Fairmont gift certificate(s). This email usually arrives within minutes and is ready to use right away.
Although it gives specific instructions on how to redeem, you can just book online through Fairmont.com and select any of their available rates, including pre-paid and non-refundable stays. If your credit card is charged in advance of arrival, you can simply apply the certificates at check-out and have the total refunded without much hassle.
Pay special attention to the terms and conditions though, as there are a couple of limitations regarding maximum number of certificates per stay, validity, etc.
Also very important, these certificates cannot be used for any third party bookings (online travel agencies such as Expedia or Hotwire) as you’re actually paying those companies directly for the booking, not the hotel.
Is It Worth The Effort?
Absolutely! Well, it depends, do you like free money? Buying gift certificates at 25 percent off face value is an incredible deal, especially since those gift certificates can be redeemed with few restrictions, including on discounted and pre-paid stays. Admittedly, the Life Experiences website is a bit clunky and tired, but I’ve gone through the process a few times now and have saved hundred and hundreds of dollars.
Here’s a real world example of how I leveraged this promotion, along with my Fairmont President’s Club status, to get one heck of a deal at The Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria this fall:
I called Fairmont to inquire about availability for a three night stay. As a Fairmont Platinum member, I had received a 3rd night free certificate a few months ago celebrating Canada’s birthday and was wanting to use it for this stay. The agent found a fully-flexible rate for $349 per night, plus taxes, for a Fairmont King room.
I asked if there were any prepaid, non-refunadble rates available and she came back with a good promotion for $261 per night, plus taxes, including parking. While I used to hate booking non-refundable travel, I knew this trip would be happening, save for a medical emergency, which my American Express Platinum Card would cover since I was using it to pay for the reservation.
Since Brad and I both have Platinum status, we also had a bunch of room and suite upgrade certificates left to use before the end of the year. I asked about availability using our 3rd night free certificate and a suite upgrade, to which she was able to confirm a 650 square foot, one-bedroom suite at the time of booking. Nice! This particular suite was selling for $499 per night, plus taxes, at the time of booking.
To recap, I was able to book a one-bedroom suite with early check-in, late checkout and parking for three nights with trip cancellation insurance for a grand total of $600.58. Not bad at all considering the same room without Platinum status perks would sell for almost $2000 without early check-in or late checkout for the same three nights.
As good a deal as it was, the travel hacker side of me knew I could get it even cheaper. I took a few minutes to go through the above process and ordered $600 worth of Fairmont Gift Certificates through Life Experiences from Costco (what a mouthful), for a total of $449.94. The cherry on top: Costco is an Aeroplan partner for online shopping, so I was able to pick up an additional 450 Aeroplan miles for the purchase!
For $449.94, we will be staying at one of the most iconic Fairmont properties in North America in a recently renovated one-bedroom suite for three nights with parking, early check-in, and late checkout! I just love a great deal!