As Fairmont's new global ambassador, the star weighs in on the future of travel — and the importance of prioritizing sustainability and positively impacting communities.

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Susan Sarandon Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
Credit: Getty Images on behalf of Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

With more than 80 properties around the world — from Dubai to London to the Swiss Alps — Fairmont Hotels & Resorts are familiar to many travelers. Fairmont's Canada properties, in particular, are beloved by Travel + Leisure readers: in our recent World's Best Awards, five of the top 10 resorts in Canada were Fairmont hotels.

Another devoted Fairmont traveler is Academy Award–winning actor Susan Sarandon, who has recently been announced as Fairmont's new global brand ambassador. She appears in the brand's new campaign, "Experience the Grandest of Feelings," which pays tribute to Fairmont's century-long heritage, and highlights five diverse locations: the 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 landscapes of South Africa.

Sarandon and other VIPs including actor Henry Golding and artist, activist, and poet Cleo Wade celebrated the campaign's launch on Thursday outside The Plaza with a stunning showcase in Grand Army Plaza.

Exterior view of Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
| Credit: Kenny So/Getty Images

Mansi Vagt, global vice president of Fairmont, told T+L the timing of the campaign was perfect because travelers are finally starting to dream and plan for their next big trip. "Whether it's an urban landscape and a city that has a culture that you haven't experienced before, or an incredible national park in the Canadian Rockies, or a resort hotel in Asia, this campaign inspires people to celebrate those moments we've missed in these last 18 months," she said.

Sarandon agrees. "For a while, I think everybody just was trying to survive and not dreaming about travel," she told T+L. "And now with vaccinations, I think we are able to start popping things onto our wishlist again."

Here, Sarandon shares her thoughts on the new campaign, her favorite Fairmont properties around the world, and where she's hoping to travel next.

Travel + Leisure: What inspired you to partner with Fairmont?

Susan Sarandon: "A long time ago, I really started thinking about sustainability and impact on the community when I visited hotels. So when Fairmont approached me, those were the questions I asked: about sustainability, how they treated their workers, and what their policies were. It turned out that Fairmont had written the book on it years ago, they were ahead of the curve. Giving people the opportunity to participate in offsetting their footprint is a plus, but Fairmont also has an on-site beekeeping program to produce their own honey, and in the Maldives they're working to preserve coral reefs. I think it's really smart work and I appreciate that they pair with the community on projects that can help preserve what's going on around the hotel. If there's one thing COVID has shown us, it's how connected we all are."

The Midtown Manhattan Skylines rises above the Central Park at its South East corner high into a clear blue sky.
The Plaza hotel rises above Central Park in New York City.
| Credit: Sascha Kilmer/Getty Images

What are some of your favorite Fairmont hotels around the world?

Susan Sarandon: "The Plaza! I grew up with Eloise at the Plaza and I visited Gore Vidal — who was an old friend and was the godfather of one of my kids — he would always stay there, so we would visit him. I filmed 'King of the Gypsies' in the Plaza. It's just one of those classic monuments that has kept its grandeur and elegance. Once when I had small children and really needed to sleep, I came here for a night. So if you really want a treat, you can stay at The Plaza.

Fairmont Banff Springs was quite a revelation when I went to Canada to do something for Riverkeepers [Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s environmental group]. It is extraordinary in a completely different way because you've got this incredible entrance, and I just remember it was winter and there were huge trees and it looked like a castle. For me, go elegant, if you can. Do something old school that kind of triggers your imagination."

Fairmont Banff Springs in the wintertime
Fairmont Banff Springs in the wintertime
| Credit: Courtesy of Fairmont

How did you develop a love of travel?

Susan Sarandon: "For me, travel is way up there with air and food. I didn't travel a lot in my childhood, outside of camping with my family. We didn't have the means, I was the oldest of nine. So as an adult that was a priority for me. I was very curious, and I have dragged my kids everywhere, whether it was me working on location or at spring break or Christmas."

Do you think travelers are looking for familiarity and comfort right now, or something surprising and totally new? What are you looking for when you travel?

Susan Sarandon: "There are places I still haven't spent time, but I'm always happy to go back to Italy. My mom's side is Sicilian, and I'd like to go back to Ragusa where my grandfather was born. I still have relatives there, so they've been bugging me to come. I haven't been to a lot of the Greek islands, although I spent time there when I was shooting 'The Tempest' and it was fabulous. I'm kind of curious about driving around Ireland, or being driven, since it's the wrong side for me [laughs]."

Lakeview Lounge at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
Lakeview Lounge at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
| Credit: Courtesy of Fairmont

As a New Yorker, how do you feel walking around the city these days? Do you feel that New York is "back?"

Susan Sarandon: "New Yorkers thrive on adversity, let's face it. We're at our best during catastrophes. I was in the city for the first three months of COVID and New Yorkers rose to the occasion in every way. I really felt that I wanted to be in New York. And I don't know how long everyone can keep eating on the sidewalk, but there's definitely a very Parisian feeling to all of these outdoor restaurants!"

Where are you looking to travel next?

"I wouldn't mind going to the Maldives, if I'm not dragging my kids with me. I think it would be a good place to recharge. We never talked about self-care when I was a mom, but now I can say, 'Oh yeah, I need some self care. I think I'll go to the Maldives.'"