As part of the inauguration of the Golf Review section, I stayed at the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort in Anaconda, Montana. The name says Fairmont but that’s where the similarities between this Fairmont and the Fairmont brand name end. At one point this hotel was part of the Fairmont chain, though this changed in 2008 when it was sold to private owners. Regardless, it pales in comparison to the Fairmont resorts that we all know and love. I’m looking at you Fairmont Scottsdale Princess.
The review begins with the exterior of the hotel that is in desperate need of a makeover. Who knows the last time any renovation work has been done.
Entering the lobby, guests are whisked away back to 1985. The carpet dates back to when Anaconda was a famous, thriving mining town. There is a fountain in the lobby splashing water over the ugly, Microsoft Word font announcing the hotel’s name.
Moving on to the front desk, guests are greeted by members of the cold, impersonal staff. I’m not sure why they are so angry but if I had to guess I’d say it’s the Cold War uniforms they are forced to wear.
Taking the elevator to the third floor, I walk through the narrow halls that barely accommodate my golf tools. Arriving at the room, I am far from impressed at the basic layout and amenities of the king size room that looks like a typical airport hotel yet costs +$200/night. (Not looking at you Detroit Metropolitan Airport Westin) For some reason, there is a microwave in the room and a giant mini fridge. In most cases these fixtures would be useless but with the price gouging going on, water is $3/bottle, I could see how they may be useful.
The best feature of the room is the La-Z-Boy recliner. Since we are talking about trademark infringement, I have to ask, has La-Z-Boy lost its trademark protection as all big couch looking chairs are now referred to as La-Z-Boys? Anyhow, why is there a La-Z-Boy in my room? Though the bed was comfortable, the pillows were flat and awful.
What’s the bathroom like? It did have a toilet and a gross shower curtain so that was nice but the soaps weren’t on par with those famous Hyatt and SPG ones in Asia.
At least the view is nice, minus the aforementioned hotel exterior that is in need of more than of a rhytidectomy.
Out of the room, it was time to head to the main attraction of the hotel, the hot spring pools. Per the hotel’s website here are the temperatures of the pool:”The large indoor and outdoor hot pools generally run between 88° – 94°. The indoor and outdoor hot soaking pools generally run between 100° – 104°. The hot springs water is actually cooled for pool usage by adding cold water.”
One nice feature of the springs is that it does not smell like sulfur. (reference Chiang Rai.) Another clever add on is the water slide but like everything else at the hotel, it is not included in the price of the room. Why? Again per the hotel’s website, “Only about 15% of our guests use the water slide. Operating the 350′, five-story water slide includes expenses for staffing, electricity to pump up the water, insurance and maintenance. It is unfair to pass these expenses along to the majority of Fairmont’s guests who do not use the water slide.” Here are my conclusions based on this data: 1)Maybe only 15% use it because you are charging for it. 2) If only 15% use it then there aren’t added costs that aren’t absorbed by your ridiculous room rates. 3)How much are you paying the person at the top of the slide to ring the bell when it is time for the next rider to go down?
Insider tip: Don’t pay for a day pass for the slide, pay $1 for a single ride.
After soaking up the minerals of the hot springs, you may want to grab a drink from the poolside bar which may or may not be open. Even the employees had no idea its business hours. In the event that it is closed past 12PM as was the case both days I was at the resort, leave the pool area, go through the prison secured door (the pool area is accessible to guests and the general public, thus the need for doors with buzzers), and make the loop to the back bar in the restaurant. There, if Trys is working, order a Pina Colada which should be included in my Top Pina Coladas on Earth list. Follow that sugar surprise up with an Alexander the Great frozen concoction and you are now ready to head back to the pool.
Insider tip: If there’s a shorter gentlemen manning the bar, be careful what you order. On day 2, a frozen grasshopper request elicited the response, “Jesus F&@King Christ!” I can only assume he couldn’t find the Creme de Menthe.
As far as dining, I can recommend the basic burger which came out piping hot and delicious. Mimosas should be avoided since 4 of them cost $35.
In conclusion, the idea of swimming in hot springs is cool but you’d be a fool to think that you won’t get burned as a guest of this resort that infringes on the Fairmont name.