A symphony in a cenote in Mexico? An underwater ballet in Hawaii? Why uncommon, hard-to-get experiences are shaping luxurious journey

The new, humid air is virtually vibrating with gasps from my fellow journey writers, and it’s not simply because we’re looking out for little furry associates after studying it’s tarantula season right here within the Yucatan jungle. It’s as a result of we’ve simply arrived at a pink carpet 70 ft underground, resulting in a cave lit with 1,000 candles and crammed with waiters serving margaritas. The cave is named a cenote, and it’s far fancier than its gloomy counterparts, which is why we’re puzzled past “Oh. My. God.”

This specific cenote (pronounced “say-no-tay”), a sprawling and partially flooded limestone cave system known as Rio Secreto, was solely found in 2004, by a farmer chasing an iguana right into a gap, or so the story goes. This area of Mexico is known for these protected sinkholes — there are literally thousands of them — fashioned by the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes sensible pure wells. And tonight, Rio Secreto is decked out to impress.

I’m a part of a bunch of journey media invited right here to attend an intimate efficiency by a small string chamber ensemble from the native Quintana Roo Symphony Orchestra — its eight members framed by a gaping, vaulted cavern, whose dramatic stalactite formations resemble a large drip sandcastle turned on its head.

With at this time’s live performance, the primary “Symphony in a Cenote,” the Fairmont Mayakoba in Riviera Maya is utilizing the backdrop of this pure marvel to craft a uncommon expertise, reworking a typical vacationer attraction into one thing otherworldly. That’s as a result of on the subject of journey, it’s the out-of-the-blue that strikes you, and that you just hold onto years and a long time later.

Event guests explore the cenote, a cave system called Rio Secreto, discovered in 2004.

Within the age of Instagrammable journey, the place crowds flock to take the identical pics in the identical locations, the last word luxurious is doing one thing shocking — and that nearly nobody else can do.

Earlier than making the total winding descent into what’s thought of the sacred Mayan underworld, our native area guides led us to a shaman who ceremoniously requested the mythological three-foot sprites believed to reside within the cenote for permission to enter. With arms on our hearts, we greeted them: “malo’kin!” (hiya) and “yu’um bootik!” (thanks).

Legend has it that the sprites, known as alux (“aloosh”), emerge from hiding within the evenings, which is why most cenotes are closed then. However with the astounding acoustics the cave presents, a reside live performance makes good sense, albeit a logistical problem. (Simply think about schlepping down a six-foot-tall double bass with out turning right into a sweaty mess.)

The Fairmont Mayakoba’s limited-time expertise is at present slated to occur lower than a handful of occasions, together with as soon as in Jan. 2023. It contains a sublime lagoon-side dinner on the A-list resort, plus cocktails and champagne on the cenote, and prices $250 (U.S.), per individual. For an opulent resort add-on, it’s fairly priced — ringing in at lower than a median luxurious resort therapeutic massage.

The cenote expertise kicks off a brand new Fairmont marketing campaign known as “Past Limits,” which features a collection of unique occasions rolling out at among the firm’s North American motels and resorts by March. Among the many highlights: on the Fairmont Orchid in Hawaii, you may watch a reside ballet underwater; on the Fairmont Century Plaza in Los Angeles, you may see a troupe of gravity-defying performers flip the enduring 19-story constructing right into a vertical dance ground; and on the Fairmont Banff Springs, you may get pleasure from a pop-up cliffside oxygen bar at 7,000 ft.

The marketing campaign is in keeping with a broader journey trade pattern to redefine what luxurious means. For essentially the most half, the wealthier you might be, the extra unique, uncommon and unbelievable the expertise must be to be able to actually impress, says Jenny Southan, the editor and founding father of Globetrender, a journey pattern forecasting company in London, England.

“Luxurious has at all times been related to rarity and issues which might be out of attain for most individuals,” she says, however in recent times, there’s been a shift from investing primarily in materials items to prioritizing experiences. For the Fairmont Mayakoba and different prime resorts, exclusivity is now not nearly championship golf programs, non-public yachts and award-worthy eating places.

In the age of Instagrammable travel, luxury is doing what (almost) no one else can do.

4 Seasons’ assortment of “Extraordinary Experiences,” for instance, contains heli-surfing in Indonesia’s G-Land and floating in a personal hot-air balloon from Florence to the Tuscan countryside. Different motels are centered on encounters meant to encourage a reconnection to nature or creativity: The world’s first “wandering resort,” 700’000 Heures, can organize unusual vacationer actions resembling diving for sea urchins with native fishermen in Ine, Japan. And in Puglia, Italy, experiences at Castle Elvira embrace spending time with artists Harvey B-Brown and David Scheinmann, who will assist visitors create their very own 3D “meta portrait.”

Tapping into this demand, many elite motels are recognizing they’ve a possibility to lean on their native contacts, Southan provides, “offering entry to folks and locations that others don’t have.”

It’s not arduous to see the draw. Nothing in regards to the cenote live performance is what I anticipated, together with the music itself. As an alternative of Amadeus and Tchaikovsky, we’re handled to tunes by Adele and Toto. The set checklist is a mash-up of 14 pop hits, from Gloria Gaynor’s Nineteen Seventies rendition of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” to Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito,” a music unabashedly near my reggaeton- and Latin-pop-loving coronary heart.

The familiarity of the melodies juxtaposed with the oddness of nearly every little thing else, together with the unusually fascinating geology, is what makes the entire expertise so surprising.

To prime it off, being an up-close observer of a “first” like this makes it much more thrilling — and never simply because it’s “a collectible event to make us look good on social media,” Southan factors out. Whether or not or not my journey is documented on the ’gram (after all, it’s), the magic is actual and as soon as in a lifetime.

Claire Sibonney travelled as a visitor of Fairmont Motels & Resorts, which didn’t evaluate or approve this text.

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