It all started in Belgium when culinary communications agency Hakuna Matata partnered with The Fun Group, an amusement park ride installer to offer the first Dinner in the Sky in 2006. Right now you can experience elevated dining in sunny Puerto Vallarta on the lush grounds of Casa Velas Resort. You get a highly choreographed culinary extravaganza incorporating a music soundtrack and various announcements over an on board sound system as you’re lifted 150 wow-inducing feet into the air with 22 fellow diners.
Similar in many ways to a luxe amusement park ride, your Dinner in the Sky experience begins with a complimentary cocktail hour where drinks like the Sky High mixed with Skyy vodka, lemon soda, grapefruit juice, and Blue Curacao are planted in your hand. You’ll also be signing a waiver holding staff harmless should anything go wrong. But don’t worry, this is a mere formality thanks to their stringent safety guidelines exceeding the highest European standards.
Next you’ll walk down a grand walkway lit on either side with tiki torches to the launch platform. Getting strapped in takes a while and when it’s finally time to make your gradual yet steady ascent by crane, it’s entirely possible that if you’re buried in your smart phone, you won’t notice your departure from earth since there’s absolutely no swaying or bounce as you’re rising upward.
Strapped into a sports car-like bucket seat, chairs are anchored to the table and swivel to the left and right but only until each arm hits the table’s edge. You are quite confined by the body harness and chair design which sometimes makes it difficult to eat without lifting the plate to your mouth. But your chair does have a thrilling feature that’s perhaps best enjoyed after downing some tequila shots liberally served along with the wine pairings between courses. Pull back a lever to recline, stretch back, and star gaze if it’s night time or catch some rather harrowing vertical or upside down views during daylight.
Your 1 hour experience includes a 3 course gourmet dinner featuring a rotating lineup of dishes like lobster lasagna and beef fillet served atop polenta and truffles prepared by top chefs, including Mikel Alonso and Bruno Oteiza, disciples of Spanish superstar Juan Arzak, Xavi Pérez Stone, former “Best Chef in Mexico” and winner of the “Iron Chef 2014”, and Mexican TV personality Chef Yolanda Yanar. Everything is prepared in advance, but the elevated dining space is equipped with a six-tray oven and two electric stove tops for final prepping. Spectacular views of surrounding Banderas Bay and the Sierra Madre Mountains in the distance compliment the gustatory extravaganza.
Casa Velas Resort is just one of many locations around the globe offering Dinner in the Sky. Since 2006, installations have criss-crossed the skies of 45 countries from Europe to Australia, Japan, India, Dubaï, South-Africa, Brazil, United States, Mexico, Canada, and China. Although Dinner in the Sky will only be available at Casa Velas until February 28th, future dates are already scheduled for 2018-19 so stay tuned for your next opportunity!
Photos courtesy of Casa Velas & Steve Mirsky. Coverage made possible by participating in a sponsored visit.