It was a massively busy Spring for me. Frantic and filled with incredible countries that generated dynamic opportunities for photography. But exhausting. So when I found out that I needed to visit the San Francisco Fairmont right in the middle of that hectic schedule, I was looking forward to an assignment that would keep me in the USA and might have a slower pace then some of my others.
An upgrade to Business Class with Delta on my way to San Francisco was a great start to a weekend of #FairmontMoments.
The driver who picked me up from the airport, courtesy of Fairmont, was cheerful and informative. As we drove, he filled me in on what had changed since my last time in the city. Yet it wasn’t until I was being led into the Tony Bennett Suite that I started to actually relax and feel an immense gratitude for the assignment before me. In those seconds between when I was out in the hallway pondering all that I needed to do and all that I needed to shoot during my two nights at the Fairmont and when I first saw the Suite, a shift occurred. I was able to exhale knowing that I’d be able to “come home” to a space that gave me room to spread out and which was all mine in a hotel that would make sure no need went unfulfilled. In fact, it was much more than I needed all alone but since that doesn’t happen every day, I relished that opportunity in full. I was welcomed with the most wonderful gift and best of all, TWO bouquets of fresh flowers.
Then it was time to settle in and get started.
I had a simple task really, enjoy the hotel and photograph #FairmontMoments. Those snippets of time that are worthy of the brand’s name and the kind of experiences that you can only have when you’re a guest.
It was a task much more easily accomplished than I realized because the hotel lends itself to great stories naturally. It’s luxurious, yes, but the employees treat you like family friends. My suite was incredible but also incredibly comfortable. It was elegant without being pretentious. The food was superb and served in the kind of surroundings that elevate the experience of dining from one of mere necessity, to memory. The history of the building and of the Fairmont brand in the city is one that a history buff like me can easily sink their teeth into and not find a lack of stimulation.
To discover all my #FairmontMoments, please enjoy the accompanying interview I did which is live now on Travel Mindset and allow these photos to inspire your own stay!
from my final post on Instagram that I shared during the weekend:
I traveled to San Francisco to find some #FairmontMoments and I found quite a few. And yes this was a job. But the weekend took on a life of its own, becoming something more personal than just an assignment. So it’s this view from my chaise lounge in the Tony Bennett Suite, after watching the sun set and the lights of the city begin to sparkle like so many diamonds, that will stick with me as my personal favorite moment from the weekend.
After the difficult catalyst that first launched me into travel photography as a career, I spent some time regrouping, living with extended family in San Francisco. Though that period was brief, it was very transformative. The city came to feel like home. I’ve had many homes since then! Yet this one burrowed so deep into my heart that it’s right up there with where I was born. Every time I visit San Francisco, I know it won’t be the last time and I’m not worried about what I didn’t get to do or see. I know I’ll be back.
No one at the Fairmont in San Francisco knew this as far as I know, when they put me in this Suite where Bennett’s paintings hang in my field of vision and many stories above where a statue of him graces the lawn. But it’s incredible that it happened this way. You see the Suite’s namesake once sang, downstairs in the Venetian Room underneath where I type this, “I left my heart in San Francisco…” then later he said: “That song helped make me a world citizen. It allowed me to live, work and sing in any city on the globe. It changed my whole life.” San Francisco is that song for me and since I first heard its notes, I too have traveled all over the world because of incredible work opportunities, the seeds of which were planted during my time in the Bay Area.
However, I will always come back. After all, I left my heart in San Francisco.
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