Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts is renowned for providing an exceptional experience to guests, no matter the weather. With its commitment to selflessness and timeless elegance, the luxury hospitality leader offers personalized and unique services that surpass expectations.
However, there’s much more to this hospitality giant. Simon Casson, President of Hotel Operations for Europe, Middle East, and Africa at Four Seasons, has granted Economy Middle East exclusive access to gain insight into the inner workings of this industry titan.
How does Four Seasons ensure it provides exceptional experiences and services that cater to the unique needs of each guest?
At Four Seasons, we strive to create personalized experiences that cater to each customer’s unique needs. We accomplish this by empowering our team to act on the spot, provide spontaneous care, and anticipate needs before they’re expressed.
Our culture is based on “The Golden Rule” – treating others as we’d like to be treated. This value is ingrained in every touchpoint and interaction, both in the EMEA region and globally.
While we continuously innovate and adapt to changing preferences, the essence of our brand – human-centric service – remains the cornerstone of the exceptional experiences Four Seasons is known for. To me, authentic service is the epitome of luxury.
What are some emerging, exciting trends in the hospitality industry?
Our guests’ expectations have shifted from merely visiting new places to connecting with the world on a more profound level. This desire for authentic experiences is especially evident among Millennial and Gen Z travelers, who are drawn to brands that align with their values.
Today’s guests prioritize experiences over materialism and value flexible, personalized service as the hallmark of true luxury. The empathy we infuse into our service creates a sense of belonging that resonates deeply with our guests. This personalized care was reflected in the launch of our new creative brand campaign last year, as we continue to innovate and provide unique ways for guests to engage with the world. From bespoke adventures on our popular Four Seasons Private Jet itineraries to the upcoming launch of Four Seasons Yachts, we constantly strive to elevate the guest experience through innovative approaches to hospitality.
Expectations are evolving rapidly, particularly among tech-savvy guests for whom time is a precious commodity. While technology enhances the guest experience, we remain committed to providing our guests with warm and personable interactions. That’s why we developed the ‘Chat’ function on our Four Seasons Application – a 100 percent people-powered feature designed to complement rather than replace human interactions.
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What initiatives has Four Seasons implemented to reduce its environmental impact?
At Four Seasons, our unwavering commitment to supporting our communities and environment is evident through our comprehensive ESG program. Our program revolves around two main pillars, namely “Planet” and “People,” and is aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals to ensure clear objectives. We constantly evaluate and mitigate climate risks by implementing measures such as using renewable or carbon-free energy sources.
We’ve implemented energy-saving controls for guest rooms and building systems, launched water conservation measures and recycling programs, installed electric vehicle charging stations, and introduced plant-based menus at our Hotels and Resorts worldwide.
In addition, Four Seasons has taken measures to preserve biodiversity and enhance local ecosystems within the places where we operate. Our goal is to integrate sustainability into every aspect of our operations and inspire others to make a positive impact.
Four Seasons recently announced a resort that will open in Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea project. Can you tell us more about it?
Our newest property at The Red Sea development will be one of the first resorts in Saudi Arabia’s master-planned development, seamlessly integrating beachside travel with the Kingdom’s natural and cultural wonders. The Resort will be situated on Shura Island, which will also feature a yacht marina, lifestyle and leisure facilities, retail outlets, and an 18-hole golf course.
The Resort will include approximately 150 rooms and suites, each providing unobstructed vistas of the picturesque beaches and crystal-clear waters surrounding the island. With six restaurant and lounge outlets, families can enjoy the dedicated Kids All Seasons area while indulging in a wide range of dining options. Additionally, the resort will offer a deluxe spa, three outdoor pools, and two separate beach areas to cater to every guest’s preferences.
Our Red Sea resort will join a growing collection of properties in the Kingdom, including Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh at Kingdom Centre, along with upcoming projects in Diriyah and Jeddah at the Corniche.
What advice do you have for aspiring hospitality professionals who are just starting out in the industry?
My advice would be to have a clear understanding of yourself and where your passions truly lie. Early in my career, I came to realize that the people who rose quickly within Four Seasons were not only the most talented in their fields, but also the best at developing their sense of self. Ask yourself what you’re interested in and what motivates you. These are crucial questions to consider.
Once you have established a solid foundation and believe the industry is for you, you then need to be fully committed to working hard with a company aligned with your personal values and in an environment where you can develop and flourish. Ever since my journey began with the company in 1989, the culture at Four Seasons has been a constant source of inspiration for me.
What is your vision for the future of the hospitality industry in the EMEA region?
Travel and tourism is playing a central role in the transformation of several Middle Eastern countries. While technology is undoubtedly a significant factor driving increasing levels of personalization through data and insights, at Four Seasons, we firmly believe that our future will continue to be shaped by human connections and imagination.
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