Four Seasons Provence, one of the most sought after resorts worldwide – an exclusive interview with Mauro Governato
CPP-LUXURY.COM has recently had the opportunity to interview Mauro Governato, an experienced Italian professional, one of the key professionals behind the success of FOUR SEASONS PROVENCE, the first Four Seasons resort hotel in Europe, the only in France with an integrate professional golf facilities. Mr Governato speaks about the unique competitive advantages and also on the challenging process to develop the property at Four Seasons standards in the region.
Looking back on the 8 year history of your resort, what were the most important highlights in its development ?
The most important achievement has been to transform a difficult and challenging location into a luxury destination thanks to the value of the Four Seasons brand. It has been amazing to see the effects of creating a luxury resort to the environment. Suddenly the region behind Cannes has taken off and thanks to owners investment and our service reputation we have been able to create something unique and inspiring.
Four Seasons Provence is a unique resort in France to be integrated with a large golf club such. How important is golf in your marketing and sales strategy ?
Golf is an integral part of our concept and we have 2 beautiful 18-hole golf courses impeccably maintained. At certain times of the year, we are targeting mainly a golf clientele, ie October, November and March and April but our resort is also well received and established for Spa lovers, honeymooners and families. We do a lot of marketing on the Golf as it is our primary activity and especially for attracting groups or incentives it plays a great role, but we are also developing our Spa as an all year round venue. Nowadays we believe we have to market all our assets and gain exposure in every segment of the market.
What are the first three largest nationalities represented in your customer base? Has this changes in the recent years ?
English and American customers together with French and Swiss German guests are still the main clientele, but in recent year we have seen Eastern Europe becoming an important source of business. Middle East is also another emerging market.
The resort is within a short distance from Cannes and St Tropez. How do you position yourselves in comparison with leisure luxury resorts in the two destinations ?
In these two destinations there is the sea element that it is not present in our resort. Most of our competitors rely on this important and for them vital aspect, we cannot compete on that front. However, it is interesting to notice that during the last few years, an increasing number of guests who now know St Tropez and Cannes, are coming to see us looking for calm, tranquillity, service,quality and especially for being pampered. There is a noticeable change in the trend.
What are the most important challenges you have been facing ? i.e. human resources, international recession etc
Yes the most difficult factor for us is the perception of being in a region that it is very seasonal, and we are one of the few resorts in the area open all year around in order to promote the region and its attraction all the time. Obviously recession and economic turndown do not help either. Recruiting and training a considerable number of staff it is also another challenge that we face every year.
How important is the SPA for the hotel? What percentage of the guests are drawn to the resort by the SPA?
Spa creates an important alternative to the Golf or it can also be combined. It is so important for our resort to have a Spa concept in order to differentiate our offer. Around 20% of our customers come for the Spa facilities
What is the average length of stay in high season and low season ?
High Season around 7 days and low season 2 to 3 days.
What is the general profile of your most loyal customer?
The Four Seasons customer knows us, relies on us and trusts us all over the world. The Guest that simply knows that Four Seasons staff will do anything to try to please him and we always aim to deliver genuine hospitality to offer a consistent guest experience. We are also very open to suggestions and criticism in order to improve our level of service.
Privacy is one of the most important aspects of a luxury resort such as yours. How are you able to cater to families with children?
We are indeed very popular for families with children and we have an excellent reputation among our repeat guests especially during school holidays. We have recently added a new Kids for all Seasons facility that includes a beautiful LEGO room, relaxation area, a 10x10m pool and craft and art space plus internet and Wii games. It is important for parents to know that dedicated children programmes are in place in order to offer fun, education and care to their children.
Provencal cuisine and ingredients have been the key to the success of the two restaurants of your hotel. What are the key features and how important is local produce for your restaurants?
We value tremendously our region and our products. We believe our products are so fresh, so inviting and so tasty that our cuisine doesn’ t need to alterate or modify the original taste by adding many flavours. We want to highlight the sense of place of our territory and present a cuisine that lets the ingredients speak for themselves. Our guest should be immediately able to recognise the smell, the scent, the aromas of Provence and get carried away by it. We have developed during the years a great relationship with our suppliers and our Chef Ms Stephanie Le Quellec presents every week a special dish that it is not in the menu but is presented as a daily suggestion, just because on that day she found the perfect fish or meat or vegetable on the market and we want to offer it to our hotel guests. We invite to try our reinvented Tomato and Mozzarella or our Grilled Seabass with baby leaks and vanilla flavour and our Roasted Lamb with fresh seasonal vegetables and homemade gnocchi.
Currently, only four suites have private Jacuzzi and two have private swimming pools. Do you plan to introduce Jacuzzi and/or pools at other suites ?
Yes indeed this is a future project. We are looking into this opportunity as we know that there is a market that is looking for this kind of luxury. We are thinking to add another 6 pools to our villas.
What are the key geographical customer basis you are targeting in your current marketing and sales strategy ?
We are targeting UK, US, France , Germany and Italy, but also Russia, Ukraine, Middle East especially Qatar and also Canada and Brasil