This Book Narrates the Fairmont Story

Packed with little-known anecdotes and archival photographs, Grand By Nature documents the brand’s evolution over the past 135 years.

All images courtesy of Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

Armchair travelers with a penchant for grande dame hotels can now pick up a copy of Grand By Nature, a deep dive into the illustrious past of Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. Readers will gain a new appreciation of the Toronto-based hospitality brand, which counts a slew of landmark properties across Canada, alongside legendary lodgings like The Plaza in New York and London’s The Savoy, among its global portfolio.

Published by Skira and authored by Claire Wrathall and Claire-Marie Angelini-Thiennot, the hardcover book contains 500 illustrations and photographs scattered across more than 300 pages, and shares stories of Fairmont’s beginnings, major milestones and world-changing moments, as well as its star-studded legacy. The title is a double-entendre referencing the palatial interiors found at Fairmont properties and the jaw-dropping natural backdrops of resorts like the Banff Springs Hotel and Chateau Lake Louise.

Organized into three chapters – Origins, Architecture and Soul — Grand By Nature recounts some of Fairmont’s most captivating stories. In Origins, readers will discover how one of the brand’s two predecessors, Canadian Pacific Hotels, inspired the birth of Canada’s national parks. Also covered is the backstory of Fairmont San Francisco — the first property that opened under the Fairmont name exactly a year after the devastating 1906 earthquake (it survived the temblor but was gutted in the subsequent fires). The Architecture chapter explores the role Canadian Pacific Hotels played in popularizing the château-style in North America, and in Soul, one can learn how mining magnate Solomon R. Guggenheim displayed his art collection in the early years before his eponymous museum was built — at the same hotel where New York Fashion Week was born.

Left to right: The central tower of Québec City’s Fairmont Le Château Frontenac; Queen Elizabeth II seen in Montréal in 1959.

The volume weaves together anecdotes and archival material collected over the past 135 years; you’ll read about Guccio Gucci’s humble beginnings as a lift boy and a personal room redesign requested by star architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Then there are timeless snapshots of luxury hospitality, like well-dressed waiters delivering refreshments on bicycles and serving guests on frozen lakes.

More than 80 properties are profiled throughout the book, from the city palaces and château-style resorts dotted across North America and Europe, to the gleaming towers of Asia and the Middle East. It promises to be a treat for readers who are interested in history, architecture, society, and hotel life. Grand By Nature is being sold at bookstores around the world from US$110; it will soon be available on the Fairmont Store.

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