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All ski lifts look the same except for one (or three)—a whimsically-designed gondola in lush, yellow-orange colour, nestled around a firepit in Ocean House, New England, looking like Santa’s carriage, if not for the strings, and the lack of reindeer.

The Fondue Village, a pop-up experience

Switch ski sticks into fondue forks in this hearty, festive popup gondola

All ski lifts look the same except for one (or three)—a whimsically-designed gondola in lush, yellow-orange colour, nestled around a firepit in Ocean House, New England, looking like Santa’s carriage, if not for the strings, and the lack of reindeer.  True, Christmas is a page turned, but the spirit of cheerfulness and kindness reigns throughout winter, especially when stepping into this folkloric fondue pop-up room.  It’s the Fondue Express, a dining experience that happens specifically, inside a gondola.  One might complain there are not much room, or minutes, to enjoy a feast.  But that’s the point of fairy tales—they don’t exist for long, and one has to relish every second of it.

Inside the Express

No plain chairs, no open-air windows are in the special Veuve Clicquot branded gondolas—each are refurbished rooms decked with custom wood floors with heating underneath.  Patterns of the Alps are evident on its drapes and textiles.  Overhead, a chandelier lights up the table that is set with a four-course menu.  Getting in requires no luck; the dining experience is priced at $560 for four people, and the gondolas are made to accommodate up to 16 gastronomic guests.

Ocean House's fondue experience

Ocean House’s fondue experience

Plates are served with Swiss favourites: a heaping of Bresaola, a slice of Black Forest ham, Swiss plum tart slathered on with cinnamon ice cream, an assortment of charming Christmas cookies, and a traditional Swiss Raclette.  Each course is matched with a delectable set of wine pairings from Veuve Clicquot, for, of course, a toast must happen.  Everything becomes less cold while being wrapped in a white down jacket from Columbia’s Extreme Eco.

When the feast is over, everyone in the chairs will take home a boxed collection of Swiss chocolates before stepping out.  A portion of the proceeds is given to the Ocean House Fund for Charitable Giving as an aid to families in need. oceanhouseri.com/culinary/fonduevillage

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© This article was first published online in Jan 2020 – World Travel Magazine.

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