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FOUR SEASONS Park Lane London, the new worldwide flagship of genuine luxury hospitality

Less than a month since its official re-opening, following extensive renovation and reconstruction works, the FOUR SEASONS Park Lane in London is firmly claiming its leading position not only on London’s luxury hospitality market but also worlwide. Four Seasons’s international PR campaign highlighting the key features of the major renovation works in the 8 months leading up to the inaguration of the hotel, have undoubtedly built up big expectations among consumers, media as well as luxury hospitality professionals. And my recent stay at the hotel, less than one month from opening, has indeed exceeded my expectations !

Four Seasons Hotels have insisted that the re-opening of the London Park Lane property, the first international luxury location which the chain opened outside Canada more than 30 years ago, will set the trend for the future development of the group. And they have succeeded ! The hotel embodies not only the vision and values of founder Isadore Sharp (“a personal, down-to-earth hotel. Not for dukes or duchesses, but for people who want to be treated that way, and are put off by the stuffy formality of traditional grand hotels.”) but also the experience the chain accummulated over 40 years of experience with properties in all corners of the world. In today’s turbulent market conditions and the ongoing recession, the Four Seasons Park Lane is also an illustration of the chain’s expertize in running an efficient and pro active relationship with properties owners. Mention should be made that Four Seasons is mostly a management company, the hotel chain owning through one of its shareholders, less than 7 properties worldwide.

Many international luxury chains, including the Four Seasons have been managing and opening properties which, in some cases, do not meet the standards of the chain, mostly due to the hotel – owner relationship. That is why, sadly, we have lower standard Four Seasons hotels within tired, unrenovated properties which is in vivid contrast with the high level of service which Four Seasons maintains in these properties: Tokyo, New York, Singapore, Milan or Las Vegas. One of the new openings which have yet to raise to Four Seasons is Beirut, a hotel which opened in a very competitive market, with savvy travellers and local luxury consumers.

The Four Sesons Park Lane is flawless in many aspects: very comfortable bed, with finest linen and a generous pillow menu; fast, decently priced wireless internet, impeccable quality of furniture, carpets and curtains; top quality bathrobe and towels in a very well equipped bathroom (mirror enclosed tv, amenities with no artificial preservatives) – separate glass enclosed shower with ideal water pressure; large business leather desk with a selection of built in adaptors and sockets as well as a leather ergonomic chain; very silent and efficient air conditioning system. The blend of cherry wood (furniture, woodwork panels, including dressing area), wool carpet, wool upholstery and curtains and leather desk (all in shades of dark brown and green) provide a warm and cosy feeling. Lighting throughout the room and the use of mirrors in bathroom, including bathroom sliding door enhance the perspective of the room, making it look larger.

The Amarante Restaurant of the hold introduces a new concept of being able to order any type of food at any time. This is yet another important core value of Isadore Sharp’s vision for the Four Seasons to provide simple and understated luxury, with the aim of making customers at ease, whatever their purpose for their stay in the hotel or for those just visiting the hotel. Simplicity, elegance and efficiency are the three main characteristics of the new Four Seasons Park Lane, these being integrated in the very high level of customer service, which is genuine and consistent throoughout the hotel, especially front office, concierge, room service and SPA. The lounge private areas (my favourite is the grey toned one) in the lobby area are all connected to the main bar and restaurant, however and despite open access, the lobby lounge areas preserve a very private and quiet feel, most with generous day light. The light green and yellow shaded onix tables in the restaurant are impressive and so is the wines ”wall” in the bar.

This is also one of the first properties where Four Seasons are implementing their new brand identity, which includes white and pale coloured drawings of falling leaves and flowers on all printed materials as well as on towels and bathrobes. My preference goes for the more ”sculpted” 3D drawings of leaves and flowers printed on room menues and room key.

In pursue of perfection, there are several aspects the hotel can improve such as: TV and entertainment system, the lamp on the business desk which is the only in room object which loos misfit and cheap; flowers or decorative plants could enhance warmth (no flowers at the moment); turndown misses an amenity (my suggestion to replace the traditional chocolate – a small bowl with water and essential aromatherapy oil on bed side).

Beautiful details: organic cholesterol free chocolates in the minibar; organic fruits; automatic control of crystal base bed side lamps; Decca luxury furniture; the theatre ”booth”, a separate desk selling tickets to London theatre shows; the fresh orchids in the glass enclosed mini garden surrounding Amarante private spaces in the lounge area, the terraces of suites with perfectly cut grass which resemble a mini garden; the Lamborghini hot chocolate served in the restaurant…

Four Seasons Park Lane’s overall interior design is bold and luxurious with an original blend of materials such as leather, marble and crystals, however, remaining tasteful and elegant. The Amarante lounge bar has a retro look which I am certain will turn it into a hot spot in London. The design throughout the public spaces is both modern and classic, some areas inspiring a retro feel. Large black and white artistic photographs throughout the hallways further enhance the retro feel, suggesting a ”Golden Age” Hollywood celebrity atmosphere. It is fascinating how you could feel warm and cosy in your jogging outfit or most luxurious evening attire in any of the hotel’s venues and public space.

My only slight disappointment came with the roof top SPA, which does command beautiful views of Hyde Park, however being strikingly different than the rest of the hotel, not only from a design point of view but also lacking the warmth and elegance factor. The ultra modern design will not only wear out easily but will also pose operational and functional issues in the long run, materials used already appearing used. While impressive with the quality of the marble, the steam room is rather uncomfortable, and not being able to control temperature is a bot odd. The relaxation pool should have used fresh water technology (widely used in luxury hotels for whirpools and swimming pools), instead of the chloride which can dry out skin and provide eye irritation. But please, bear in mind,when it comes to design, it is all down to personal taste. It will remain to be seen how other customers perceive the SPA design and fittings.

Despite the construction and design challenges, the SPA at Four Seasons Park Lane offers Omorovicza beauty treatments (a Hungarian brand with innovative mineral based products) and the full line of British The Organic Pharmacy, an entirely natural range of beauty products. ESPA products are used mostly for massage and body treatments, most of them the traditional treatments offered by ESPA at many other luxury hotel SPAs worlwide. Make sure you try one of the innovative Omorovicza facials and body treatments and endulge yourself shopping at the SPA boutique, where staff could not be more kind and updated on all products.

London’s most fashionable streets, Mount Street and Davies Street are within 3 minutes walk from the hotel, with top luxury British brands such as Alfred Dunhill, Vivienne Westwood, Brown’s and many international fashion and accessories Marc Jacobs, Vera Wang, Loewe etc

The long term success of the Four Seasons Park Lane will all depend on how the level of service and facilities are maintained…

Je lève mon chapeau, Four Seasons !

 

Oliver Petcu in London

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