Luxury Weed Tourism Is the Hot New Trend in CanadaJanuary 3, 2019
This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
A businessman from China hopped on a private jet last month, landed in Canada and went hiking on the Cascade Range in BC.
And then he smoked a fat blunt.
This experience cost $12,500 [$9,272]. It’s part of a ‘high-hiking’ tour hosted by Butiq Escapes, a luxury weed tourism company based out of Victoria, British Columbia, where a hiking guide picks you up from a private airport, smokes with you in the mountains and feeds you (and up to a group of four), lunch and dinner.
With Canadians slated to spend $7 [$5.19] billion on marijuana sales in 2019, it’s no surprise there is a new wave of luxury weed tourism companies popping up. They offer bespoke itineraries for high-end tourists who want weed in style—whether it’s $155 hemp oil massages, a cannabis-infused dinner for $175 [$130] or a cannabis wedding for $3,000 [$2225].
“We’re offering the more refined experience for cannabis enthusiasts that don't fall in line with the ‘typical stoner’ mentality,” said Ryan Clark, the owner of Butiq Escapes. “We wanted to be the first out of the gate offering a more sophisticated experience, as no other travel agency in the country seemed to want to touch it, but we're not shy and we love cannabis, so it was a good fit.”
Clark is not alone, as chefs across the country are jumping on the luxury travel bandwagon. Since October 17, Canadian Kush Tours in Toronto have hosted over a dozen private tours, from a smoked-out tours of upscale vapor lounges to a cannabis wedding bar for $3,000 [$2225] and packages like “Hang with the Herb,” where, for $400 [$297], one can hang out with a green leaf mascot named Herbert “The Herb” Kushman, who is available for $133 [$99] an hour for corporate events or parties (“born in Tel Aviv, the Herb is very kosher,” they write). It may sound like a gimmick but these entrepreneurs are filling a need.
“Cannabis tourism will be a healthy part of the tourism industry, which has not yet embraced cannabis,” said Kush’s founder, Neev Tapiero. “We have differently priced packages for different people. People are more likely to spend more, or splurge, while on vacation, and custom or bespoke experiences are modern trends in the current tourism market.”
The Ste. Anne's Spa in Grafton, Ontario, offers cannabis massage treatments with hemp CBD oil, for $155 [$115]. “It’s a way to unplug from the stresses in their life and focus on healing, rejuvenation and reconnecting with loved ones,” said Wanda Hoehn, the sales and marketing director at the spa. “The massage offers absolutely no kind of high as there is no THC in our Hemp CBD oil. The oil provides therapeutic effects like anti-inflammatory and pain relief properties.”
Since Canada’s legalization, Canna Tours, in Victoria, BC, has seen a surge in bookings for the new year, as they tend to draw the VIP party crowd looking for a novelty limo smoke.
“Our group tours are also very popular with bachelor parties, where we can custom each tour with other activities like brewery tours or VIP access at our partnering nightclubs,” said Gavin Surerus, founder of Canna Tours. “We also offer custom packages to cannabis events like 420 celebrations in Vancouver and music festivals which are also very popular and sell out quickly.”
Though it sounds like party central, there’s more to it than just light up and blaze—there’s an educational aspect on microdosing, edibles, vaping, and beyond. “Our customers seem to enjoy learning about the different kinds of ways to consume cannabis,” said Surerus. “We explore the different benefits of how topical, edibles, and concentrated cannabis can be an alternative to the traditional method of just smoking the plant.”
Cannabis-infused dining is on the rise by Travis Petersen, an Edmonton cannabis chef and owner of The Nomad Cook, who throws “secret” dinners across the country. For $175 [$130], each guest (over the age of 19) gets a five-course, cannabis-infused meal, where Petersen micro-doses for every person's tolerance. Alcohol isn't served, but they do have CBD-infused mocktails.
It seems that Elon Musk isn’t the only bigwig smoking fat blunts. Clark claims his clientele at Butiq Escapes are mostly Fortune500 CEOs and their names can’t be disclosed. They’re “from places where their own governments have forbade them from using cannabis,” said Clark. “That's an issue we have to delicately dance around because some foreign governments might cause problems for our clients if they were to find out.”
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