Susan Sarandon and Fairmont
Academy Award winning actor and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Susan Sarandon is the global brand ambassador for Fairmont’s Experience The Grandest of Feelings campaign, which promotes sustainable, responsible travel and seeks to inspire the collective curiosity that drives travelers to journey in search of new surroundings.
“Fairmont wrote the book on being sustainable for hotels and I trust them to give people a choice to be part of a program that takes carbon footprint into account,” comments Susan Sarandon, adding: “If you’re fortunate enough to have travel in your life, why not do it sustainably?”.
Thirty years ago, Fairmont literally did write a book on environmental sustainability in the hospitality industry, publishing the first edition of its Green Partnership Guides. Since then, the brand has continued its efforts to reduce climate impact and promote responsible tourism.
“Sustainability is at the heart of Fairmont”
“Sustainability is at the heart and soul of Fairmont,” says Mansi Vagt, Global Vice President, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. “We can’t wait for people to come and discover our amazing cities and natural destinations again. It’s our job as the stewards of these destinations to be mindful of how we travel today.”
The global brand campaign was launched on September 7 at The Plaza in New York. Joining Sarandon and Vagt were poet and artist Cleo Wade and actor and travel journalist Henry Golding, at a star-studded event, which featured the first reading of That Fairmont Feeling, an emotive poem by Wade, and the unveiling of a nature-inspired installation.
The campaign showcases five classic locations: Fairmont Le Montreux Palace in Montreux, Switzerland; The Plaza in New York City; Fairmont Banff Springs in Alberta, Canada; Fairmont Hotel Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada; and the breathtaking landscapes of South Africa—connecting places of historic beauty with modern sensibilities and the dreams of a new generation of travelers.
Here, Susan Sarandon shares her views on partnering with Fairmont and why travel plays an important part in her life.
Isabelle Kliger: What is it about this campaign that resonates with you?
Susan Sarandon: Travel has always been a gift. I didn’t grow up in a situation where my family took trips but, as soon as I could, I was either driving around the United States or traveling to other countries. I felt very strongly when I had children that I wanted to help make memories for them. One of the really sad things that happened during Covid was that our opportunity to dream about travel fell by the wayside. Now, with the vaccinations, we’re a little bit more protected, and that’s starting to happen again. So it seems like a good time to be part of this campaign.
IK: Why are you partnering with Fairmont?
SS: As I was fortunate enough to stay in nice hotels, I became aware of the impact they were making on the communities they were in, especially as I became more conscious of sustainability. So when [Fairmont] approached me, those were the first questions I asked: how do you treat your staff, how do you treat the earth and how are you updating your older, gorgeous hotels? Now, we’re having conversations about sustainability that we never had before, and a lot of places talk about it but don’t really do it, but Fairmont wrote the book on how to be sustainable for hotels! In the Maldives, they are working to restore the coral reefs and I love their Bee Sustainable program, which focuses on conservation efforts and habitat protection for bees, as well as their overall importance to our worldwide ecosystem.
IK: What do you look for as a traveler?
SS: I like history, I like old, beautiful hotels. The Fairmont hotel in Banff just takes your breath away because you can sense the history there. I guess because I’m a New Yorker, I’m more interested in the outdoors, places where you can take a bike or walk and see mountains, sunrises and sunsets. That’s more my speed router than frantic city life, because I’ve had so much of it—which I love, I’m one of those people who actually loves New York, a true, loud, busy New Yorker! These days, it’s also really important to me what their protocol is for safety.
IK: How do you feel about promoting travel at this time?
SS: This was a project that started way before Covid. Now is the time to start to dream about the possibility of getting out from under it. I’m not traveling yet, but, with so many people being vaccinated, I know people are starting to plan trips for the spring. This is the time to allow yourself to think about a trip again.
IK: Why is travel so important?
SS: Kids who grow up in Europe go to other countries, it’s so much easier [than in the U.S.], so, therefore, they often know another language. We’re so American centric, because in a way we’re isolated and not aware of the humanity that exists in other countries. And I think it’s difficult for kids to grow up curious and with an open mind. I wanted my kids to be flexible and adaptable and wonder about other customs. As difficult as it is to lug three kids about, it’s worth it.
IK: Which of your on-screen characters would have been most likely to stay in a Fairmont?
SS: I think they would all have had a blast, they were all pretty game gals! But maybe Sister Helen [from Dead Man Walking] would have turned it down.
IK: What’s the most unusual thing that’s happened to you in a Fairmont hotel?
SS: I’m still waiting!
The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.