TTN spoke to Simon Casson, president, hotel operations, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, for more. “Four Seasons Hotel Kuwait at Burj Alshaya is going to take Kuwait City by storm. It offers a level of experience that is currently not available in the city. We are very excited.”
Opening its doors on September 1, this year, this partnership with Kuwaiti retail giant Al Shaya is located in one of the city’s most architecturally striking buildings in the heart of its government and business areas. “We know that Kuwait is a business destination predominantly. So, the primary markets are going to be inter Gulf travellers, with Saudi Arabia being the main feeder. Kuwait is also important as a logistical and financial centre in the Gulf so it will get some North American and European business as well.”
Four Seasons Hotel Kuwait is part of an impressive, modern two-tower mixed use complex on Al Soor Street, offering a new experience in luxury just 20 minutes from the international airport.
It features 284 guest rooms and suites, five restaurant and lounge concepts, the city’s most elegant and well-equipped event spaces, and numerous leisure facilities, including a two-story spa and fitness centre, and indoor and outdoor pools.
“After hosting a growing number of Kuwaiti guests at our properties within the region and beyond, we are pleased to bring the Four Seasons experience to the heart of Kuwait City. The hotel combines style and grace with warm and welcoming service and exceptional culinary offerings to offer a hospitality experience that is just as close to Kuwait as it is to the Four Seasons brand. The team in charge of this beautiful property know they have a great responsibility at hand, and drawing from their many years of experience with Four Seasons, they make an excellent choice to extend the brand’s legacy in this dynamic market,” says Casson.
TAKING ON TUNISIA
Four Seasons Hotel Tunis, on the other hand, will open in the late third quarter of 2017, becoming the brand’s first hotel in Tunisia and seventh in North Africa.
Perched along the hillside of the exclusive Gammarth neighbourhood, Four Seasons Hotel Tunis will offer unrivalled views of the coast, combining Arabic-inspired architecture and Mediterranean influences to create a hotel experience unlike anything else in the city. The 200-room Four Seasons Hotel Tunis is conveniently located near Tunis’ central business district and major cultural attractions.
“You may have white tigers in the lobby or a fountain display that is incredible but if your breakfast comes in 20 minutes late, you know the hotel is no good”
– Simon Casson
Four Seasons Hotel Tunis will offer the largest accommodations in the city, many with outdoor terraces overlooking the Mediterranean. At least 50 of the 200 keys will be suites, some of which will offer inter connectivity. The hotel will also feature an expansive Roman-inspired Spa, as well as a series of pools, gardens and fountains.
Casson says, “Tunisia is a fascinating country. It has all the familiarity of an Islamic country, that the guests from the GCC will identify with. At the same time, it is more exotic than where they come from, it has history, European influence. Tunisia has historically been a popular tourist destination for guests from Germany, the UK as well as some markets from the Middle East. After the terrorist incident that happened, the tourism influx has diminished greatly, but we are confident that it will return in a few years’ time.
“We build hotels for a generation. It is not about designing and building for a moment in time, if we avoid building hotels wherever there are terrorist attacks, we would never have a hotel in London or Paris or the South of France or Istanbul or New York City,” says Casson.
LESSONS IN LUXURY
“The luxury hotel space is cluttered but not everything that adds to the clutter is luxury,” Casson says. “What it takes to make a good hotel is money. If you have money you can get the right location, hire a good architect, a great interior designer. But all these things will only ever make a good hotel. They will never make a great hotel because they can be bought and anyone with enough money can build and decorate a good hotel. The leap from good to great is experiential and experiences are delivered by people. So, it is really the humanity of Four Seasons that I think drives the differential, with the founder still the chairman of the company.
“Getting the basics right every day is the foundation of luxury hospitality. You may have white tigers in the lobby or a fountain display that is incredible but if your breakfast comes in 20 minutes late, you know the hotel is no good.”
As the guests in hotels get younger and younger, how will a stately luxury product like Four Seasons adapt? Casson has the answer, “What shouldn’t change is our focus on people, service, passion and the pursuit of excellence. What will change is how that is delivered. Today we have guests checking in on our app, ordering room service from an iPad in the room, never walking into the business centre because their office is the tea room where they sit with their two or three devices. So that makes the business centre irrelevant and fast, free internet becomes the new hot water and clean towel of a hotel. We will continue to keep up with what the guests want by listening to the guest and often, by listening to our staff.”
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