Spirit of collaboration inspires holiday pop-up at Four Seasons

December 20, 2016
By: Michelle Ratcliffe
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Is there any better place than a cabin to share a meal with friends and family over the holidays? From ancient A-frames to luxury chalets, Whistler’s cabin-culture is strong, but this Christmas, there’s a new cabin attracting the attention — and it popped up, quite literally, overnight.

The Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler partnered with Hudson’s Bay Company for a truly Canadian “pop-up” dining concept aptly named “The Cabin.” Under the leadership of the resort’s director of food and beverage, Nathan Ayres, the team assembled an inviting space inspired by the look and feel of Canada’s legendary retail brand.

The Cabin opened its rustic doors last Friday (Dec. 16) and welcomes diners throughout Santa-season until Jan. 2, with a revival planned for two consecutive weekends in February over the Family Day and President’s Day holiday weekends.

“The idea to create a Canadian, B.C.-themed pop up concept was conceived over a glass of wine with friends at the resort’s courtyard,” explained Four Seasons Resort general manager, Joerg Rodig. “It all started from our need to increase dining capacity for the resort during peak demand times, particularly the festive season and President’s Week.”

Inspiring innovation

As director of food and beverage, Ayres knew that while banquet business subsided over the holidays, the resort filled to capacity with visiting merry-makers. The cabin concept met the need for additional restaurant seats by converting banquet space that would otherwise sit empty at this time of year.

“We were able to take a business problem and not only find a solution, but inspire innovation for our resort and brand,” said Ayres, who created a solution that not only increased their capacity with a unique dining option, but also offered an adults-only alternative.

With an already extensive holiday program for the many visiting children, Ayres wanted a place where mom and dad or those travelling without children could enjoy a luxury dining escape tailored for big-kid fun.

“As a resort and brand we excel in service and in this case, adapting our service and experiences to the changes in our guests themselves,” said Ayres.

The cabin concept

To craft their Canadiana cabin, the Four Seasons could not have picked a more fitting brand to team up with than the Hudson’s Bay label. The unique partnership formed an innovative collaboration that brought the iconic Canadian brand to life in the pop-up space.

The decor features ample fleece and furry textures, lots of leather and of course the iconic HBC heritage stripes splashed across throws, pillows, artwork and even the aprons of smiling servers. It’s timeless comfort that invites guests to linger for long hours around communal tables and in cozy couches.

“The Cabin is unique to our hotel guests, especially those who come back year after year for sure. However, The Cabin is also unique to the market, which is why we wanted to open it to all of Whistler,” said Ayres.

Local libations and distinctive dishes

The kitchen connected with favourite producers like Two Rivers Meats and Golden Ears Cheese to create a delicious local taste tour. Chef Artie McGee let his creativity loose with a menu that celebrates the little details and thoughtful care that make every dish an engaging experience for guests to share.

The impressive ice bar built by renowned cocktail consultant and spirits ambassador, Gez McAlpine, invites the thirsty to imbibe in style with locally brewed craft beers, B.C. wines and artful cocktails.

“We know that, especially in a place like Whistler, it takes the support and camaraderie of a community to be successful, so we wanted to partner with as many local producers, purveyors, key players as possible for a truly Canadian sense of place experience,” explained Ayres.

With the holidays being an enchanting time for many, this project truly is a testament to the magic that can happen when a team pools their talents. Rodig said it best when describing his team’s collaborative creation.

“The final product is a true reflection of the extraordinary talent at our resort, such as Laura and Darren in our maintenance department who build furniture. Chef Artie and Eren curated a list of locally sourced dishes. Nathan leads the entire venture. I feel fortunate to have such a strong and fun team.”

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