Four Seasons New York, a reminder of what the Four Seasons DNA stands for

From the moment I stepped into the hotel, my interaction to each member of the team, to my departure I had this unique feeling of not only being taken care of but ‘in good hands’ – I felt at home! Taking initiative, anticipating needs through personalization, a warm yet respectful service ‘touch’, the joy in surprising guests with the smallest gestures,  and most importantly the passion to serve which sparkles in the eyes of each and every staff – have turned the experience of my first stay at the Four Seasons Hotel New York into a truly memorable stay.

It has been a rare stay at a luxury hotel when one could even forget he or she is actually staying in a hotel but rather in his home away from home. Wendy, one of the many hotel’s staff who have been with the Four Seasons for almost two decades, welcomed me to the Ty Lounge in the lobby, on the evening of a cold Autumn day after a busy and stressful day in the city. She would not only read my mind and basically place an order which she considered most approrpiate, but she would instill this unique feeling of being in good hands. I not only had a wonderful dinner but she made me feel happy!

While she woulld subtly pay attention to every single gesture of her colleagues and clients, she would still take time to speak to me. After she told me she was with the Four Seasons for more than 20 years at several properties, of which almost a decade in New York,  I could not help her and ask what earned her loyalty. She told me that it were those moments when guests from other properties would recognize her but also when she would see their children grow up…. I was speechless. She not only made my day but she welcomed me into her ‘family’.

Upon my departure, while passing by the Front Office, I recognized a very familiar face who was running towards me with tears in her eyes. I called her by name and she was so surprised I would remember her. How could I not remember Nagham, who was an angel during my one week stay at Four Seasons Hotel Damascus, in Syria, where I was stranded due to the war, at the time, between Lebanon and Israel. I could not wait to find out news about her but also about her family, part of which was still in Syria. Had it not been for the Four Seasons, she would not have been able to escape this ongoing masacre in her home country.

And I made new friends from the Four Seasons family – the hotel’s General Manager, Austrian born, Christoph – a rare luxury hospitality professional whom I could not cease listening to. I was amazed by his vision and his unique approach to human resources and how he hires people based on attitude rather than experience. During our breakfast, he told me ‘You see, you only talk about service, you never tell me about our food or facilities’. I was struck by his remark which was entirely valid. It was not that food was not exceptional or the water which was just as it is at all Four Seasons properties, but it was service which, if perfectly integrated with facilities would make up a perfect stay. Another new friend, German born Johannes, was the invisible Guest Relations Director who would always be at the right place at the right time.

YES, the I.M Pei lobby was majestic and grand –  the views from my suite on the 47th floor were spectacular (Central Park and beyond) – I had a most relaxing night sleep in the ‘Four Seasons bed’ (the same at all properties) – my suite was immaculate clean –  wi-fi had a high speed – I took a heavenly bath with Bvlgari sachet green tea – the quality of the breakfast menu with many local ingredients (most of which organic) was more impressive than the indoor setting of The Garden with enormous African acacia trees.

Beyond property facilities, furnishings and design elements, the Four Seasons New York does not redefine luxury hospitality, it only reminds passionate travellers like me of what makes a memorable stay and how service must be an integral part of the DNA of a hotel – and not compensate for facilities or vice-versa.

This is what Isadore Sharp had in mind when he set up Four Seasons ! And the New York property re-assured me that even if the chain will exceed 100 properties, the company will not give up its core values…

Oliver Petcu in New York