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Photo courtesy of Ottawa 2017.

Ottawa takes to the sky with Sky Lounge 2017

By Terry Steeves on October 28, 2016

Imagine yourself seated at a table of 22, in a private room overlooking a breathtaking view of the city, indulging in a gourmet dining experience being created and served in front of you by the chef himself.

Sound like fun?

Now imagine that same table, but suspended 150 feet off the ground, the private room is in fact the open air around you, and the breathtaking 360 degree view stretches to include Parliament Hill, the Rideau Canal, the Ottawa River, the Byward Market, and the amazing architecture of Ottawa’s downtown core and beyond.

Sky Lounge from Ottawa 2017 on Vimeo.

Yes, I’m talking about a dinner in the sky experience, called Sky Lounge, the first of its kind offered in Ottawa, and it’s coming in July 2017. The dining in the sky experience has been around for a decade, originally devised by two Belgian companies – one that specializes in amusement park installations deploying cranes, and the other a communications agency that specializes in gourmet pleasures. For Guy Laflamme, Executive Director of Ottawa 2017, it’s part of a vision of year long events that are coming to fruition:

“To me, I thought the Sky Lounge would be a powerful and innovative element to illustrate the vision I had when I developed the entire full year program. After doing extensive consultations, analyzing surveys and applying lessons learned on recent commemorative anniversaries and similar-typed events across the country, I locked myself away to write this program and to basically conceive a full list of activities. At the time, I’d thought maybe half of them would become a reality, but now I’m pinching myself everyday since I’ve realized that every element of the program I created is materializing and is going to happen in 2017. We want to become the hub of Canada’s 150th celebrations, and use this opportunity to reposition Ottawa with a vibrant image.”

The roofed dining platform will be brought to Ottawa for the first time by a Montreal-based company, and holds space for 22 diners around its perimeter. In the middle is a fully equipped area where the chef and staff will prepare and serve their gourmet cuisine to each person, who is strapped into their comfy Formula 1 bucket seat with the help of a six-point, 3-belted harness. The entire platform is raised 150 feet into the air by a crane, tethered to the bottom to ensure minimal movement, and is equipped with the most sophisticated technology that meets international safety standards. In the case of those having a fear of heights, Laflamme had this to say:

“It’s really the best therapy that one can dream of if you’re afraid of heights… in fact, it’s a sure way to get rid of it. You’ll be distracted by the upbeat entertainment as you go up: there is a high quality sound system on the platform itself to create an ambient atmosphere. People might have some anxiety before they go up, but when they see a group coming down and the level of excitement and enthusiasm, that positive feeling will help to get rid of that.”

The Sky Lounge will operate for one week, beginning mid-July 2017, with 10 “lift-offs” per day. It will be located in front of Ottawa’s City Hall, a prime spot that will allow one of the most amazing views in our region. A portion of these lift-offs will incorporate the full dining experience (about 1 hr. in the air), while the others will be more of a shorter cocktail-styled variation (20 min. in the air). Before and after each lift, a welcoming tent and staff will provide an additional pampering with pre-dinner aperitifs and after-dinner liqueurs at the base. The restaurant chosen to supply the Sky Lounge’s cuisine, is Feast + Revel, a gorgeously inviting restaurant located in the Byward Market’s Andaz Hotel, which features farm-to-table cuisine. Executive Chef Stephen LaSalle talks about how they came to be selected:

“When we heard about the project, it sounded like something really exciting from the start. It was about, “What kind of story do you want to tell in 2017 about Ottawa?” So I didn’t think it was a big stretch for us to tell that kind of Canadian story. Our restaurant’s ethos is new Canadian with a sense of place. Ottawa is a place of confluence – it’s rivers coming together, it’s Canadians coming together as a capital. I’ve already written the menu, and had a tasting with Ottawa 2017, and we’re really happy with how it came out. There were a lot of things taken into consideration in writing that menu. We want to give something interesting for foodies that want a culinary experience, and something we can easily cook suspended from a crane. We’re talking to some beverage partners: it’s important that our wines and spirits are Canadian. It was an easy choice for beer: it’s who we have in our hotel restaurant and bar, and that’s Beau’s.”

Laflamme also went on to say that Feast + Revel shared the same vision as Ottawa 2017’s branding in creating a unique menu that reflects our city, featuring locally produced foods. But it also reflects who we are as nation, offering a variety of French Canadian, Aboriginal, and British influences in an ethnic array that makes Canada so proudly unique.

Depending on the rate of Sky Lounge ticket sales, the event may be extended for longer than one week. Earlier this year, the “Picnic On The Bridge” event which happened on Ottawa’s Alexandria Bridge, sold out in literally 2 minutes. Laflamme hopes to anticipate a similar sell out in a brief period.

“I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the same magic will apply for the Sky Lounge sales. We’ve put a great effort into coming up with some spectacular, very innovative programming, to create a momentum in our city and across the country.”

Tickets to the Sky Lounge go on sale Friday, October 28th at 10:30am. Visit the Ottawa 2017 website for details.