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Find My Hotelier Friends: Part II

In continuation with our Find My Hotelier Friends series, we turn to seasoned General Managers across iconic brands like Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, Mandarin Oriental, Belmond, and Maybourne Hotel Group.

From the streets of downtown New York City, to the al fresco dining scenes of London and Milan down, to the sandy beaches of Anguilla, the anticipation amongst hotel General Managers for a buzzy summer season is palpable. A surge in bookings across the board indicates that travel is rebounding, and coupling that with the Washington Post declaring that “2021 Will Be The Year of the Travel Agent” makes for a ton of opportunity for SmartFlyer travel advisors to deepen relationships with our preferred partners, translating into happy clients.

  1. Thomas Carreras, General Manager, Four Seasons New York Downtown
  2. Michael Bonsor, Managing Director, Rosewood London
  3. Luca Finardi, Area VP, Operations + General Manager, Mandarin Oriental, Milan
  4. Tiago Moraes Sarmento, General Manager, Cap Juluca
  5. Knut Wylde, General Manager, The Berkeley

Thomas Carreras, General Manager, Four Seasons New York Downtown

What has you most excited for the summer season in your hotel?

Ultimately, our philosophy has not changed–our mission is to enhance the lives of our guests, our residents, our employees, our partners and frankly, everyone around us.

TC: “Like many New Yorkers, I am most excited to see the rebirth of this incredible city. The energy downtown is very palpable and I see that New Yorkers, more than ever, want to be living a full life again. Here at Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown, we took the opportunity over the past year to really prepare ourselves for the re-opening. We did this by redefining our lifestyle vision and value proposition, anticipating the new social needs of connection, and prioritizing the importance of meaningful experiences. It is vital to us to always be adding value and ultimately creating memories to cherish for our guests; our hotel was one of the first in the city to reopen with all our services available. Ultimately, our philosophy has not changed–our mission is to enhance the lives of our guests, our residents, our employees, our partners, and frankly, everyone around us.”

How will you be engaging with guests in new and exciting ways as travel picks up?

TC: “We want our guests to have fun and to live the best of New York while staying with us. To add even more value to their stay, we have many exciting experiences presently being curated that will soon be launching. Our new Executive Chef, Maria Tampakis, is currently revamping our culinary offering including collaboration and partnerships with celebrated New York Chefs for our In-Room Dining Menu. For our guests who want to live like true New Yorkers, we have partnered with Biria Bikes and collaborated with a local artist to curate a treasure map of downtown with all our favorite places for those who want to continue to discover the many hidden gems below 14th street.

We will have picnic baskets prepared by Maria to enjoy a romantic time along the waterfront. Or, if you prefer art, try our Street Art Photography tour with New York photographer, Joe Thomas; it’s a great way to discover the streets of downtown with street art as a canvas. Tara Cruz, our Senior Spa & Wellness, has added many new healing rituals for mind, body, and soul. Our Resident Healer Program now includes a resident Hypnotist and Astrologer. In partnership with Wolfgang Puck, we are building a permanent terrace at the entrance of the hotel which will be an extension of CUT by Wolfgang Puck, due to open in June. These are some of the many activations we are creating to offer a catalog of experiences for a life well-lived.”

If you’re managing to do some travel of your own this season, where are you headed?

TC: “After a year of travel restrictions and multiple months to reflect on what is important in life, my first trip will be back home to Switzerland to hug those closest to me. I look forward to being able to live and laugh with my family and friends as we sip fine wine, eat fresh food, and watch the sunset over the Alps.”

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Michael Bonsor, Managing Director, Rosewood London

What has you most excited for the summer season in your hotel?

MB: “It’s impossible to say just one thing…so, I’ll mention two! We have been forced to embrace al fresco dining this year in London; I’ve always thought we should have had more, and now we do! Rosewood London now offers 125 seats set over multiple terraces within our stunning private courtyard that the hotel wraps around. It incorporates a summer partnership we have with The Macallan, and for the first time ever an exclusive al fresco area of Scarfes Bar, one of the finest bars in the world. The excitement continues indoors with the newly launched Kusama-inspired afternoon tea that is already making waves through the art and social circles in London. Who doesn’t want to savor The Dots Obsession– a pumpkin-inspired cake of dark chocolate sable and punchy passion fruit cremeux–with a glass of limited edition Kusama Veuve Clicquot?”

How will you be engaging with guests in new and exciting ways as travel picks up?

MB: “We just finished shooting with Aston Martin to celebrate the opening of our restaurants and bars and previously a music video to celebrate the hotel opening so we are always thinking of innovative ways to engage. We just launched Placemakers, a program designed to harness local culture through bespoke experiences and promote an authentic feeling of affinity and belonging. At Rosewood London, wellness practitioners Boniface Verney-Carron and Catie Miller have developed unique activations and programming, digital journeys of discovery and an expertly curated destination guide, each of which is rooted in their niche area of expertise while simultaneously highlighting the essential elements and traits of the destination of London. Wellness and health has never been so important.”

If you’re managing to do some travel of your own this season, where are you headed?

MB: “Well, I’m staying close to home initially, so June is a Scottish jaunt to the Fife Arms just next to Balmoral and then onto Inverness where I was born. A few weeks later, I am on the Isles of Scilly at Tresco at a private home on the beach–The Isles of Scilly are a magical archipelago off the Cornish coast with sub-tropical vegetation and beautiful unspoiled beaches. Then in August, I am booked to fly further finally! Miami is the first stop and then later in the month to Los Angeles and Hawaii. Of course, if I can I will try to fit in more–how we have missed travel!”

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Luca Finardi, Area Vice President, Operations + General Manager, Mandarin Oriental, Milan

What has you most excited for the summer season in your hotel?

LF: “I’m excited to finally welcome our beloved huests to their Milanese home, Mandarin Oriental, Milan! We have enhanced the residential feeling they can experience when staying with us, starting from the arrival experience with the pedestrianization of our main entrance Via Andegari. And from the perfect aperitivo in our Mandarin Bar & Bistrot courtyard, to the two-Michelin starred gourmet journey at our Seta restaurant, to discovering our charming Brera neighborhood, to relaxing at our spa where the holistic approach meets exceptional results in terms of beauty treatments and wellness, every guest can have a personal Milanese journey. This summer, we also launched tailormade tours to help guests discover extraordinary local artisans as they celebrate the Italian genius recognized worldwide.”

How will you be engaging with guests in new and exciting ways as travel picks up?

LF: “We will be developing a way to stay in touch with our guests with a strong focus on digital and paperless tools, including a 24-hour WhatsApp service with our digital butler! Through our partners at SmartFlyer, we will keep them informed through clear, quick, and effective communication. We are very committed to creating collateral, including compelling photos and videos that convey the essence of our special property.”

If you’re managing to do some travel of your own this season, where are you headed?

LF: “I most likely will be going to the north of Sardinia, the Emerald Coast, enjoying this amazing island, where nature meets glamour. Of course, Sicily always remains in my heart, where a visit to Taormina is on the top of my list. What I enjoy most is the gastronomy, nature, amazing seaside, some culture and of course, a golf course needs to be close by. With that in mind, both destinations offer it all!”

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Tiago Moraes Sarmento, General Manager, Cap Juluca

What has you most excited for the summer season in your hotel?

TS: “Guests who aren’t yet ready to tackle long haul flights can reach paradise in Anguilla in just a few hours. Spas are reopen and as of July 1st, 2021, vaccinated tourists will not be requested to have guided movements or any sort of restrictions when arriving at Cap Juluca, a Belmond Hotel. The business on the books clearly states that summer 2021 will be the most popular ever at Cap Juluca!

How will you be engaging with guests in new and exciting ways as travel picks up?

TS: “Cap Juluca has been focusing on enhancing customer experiences. Shawn Romney–Cap Juluca’s tennis pro–is also a seasoned fisherman and is now spearheading the on-site fishing meet-ups. Guests are invited to catch their dinner at Maundays Bay with a beer in hand only for the resort’s chef to grill it for you at night! We are also planning to relaunch our Peruvian dining concept that presents a journey through Peru, bringing the freshest tiraditos and other Peruvian classics.”

If you’re managing to do some travel of your own this season, where are you headed?

TS: “Portugal and Riviera Maya to visit both my wife and my family! We will also head to Cape Town and the Cape Winelands to support the tourism in the area.”

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Knut Wylde, General Manager, The Berkeley

What has you most excited for the summer season in your hotel?

KW: “We have always considered ourselves quirky, creative, and innovative here at The Berkeley, but during this last trying year even our minds were challenged. But in true ‘Berkeley Style’, we have persevered and come up with many new initiatives our local neighbours and guests can get excited about. That ranges from the Blue Bar Bikes where one of our mixologists arrives at your front door via Berkeley wheels, loaded with all you need for your favourite cocktail which will be shaken or stirred, to our Berkeley Breakfast in Bed delivery service, and our latest food and beverage pop-up The Berkeley Beach Huts. We were inspired by the UK’s most iconic and foodie seafronts from Whitstable to Southwold, and have introduced five rainbow-colored beach huts that create a most wonderful outdoor dining venue overlooking the neighbouring St Pauls Church Knightsbridge. Think irresistible seafood, seaside fare, and retro classics: lobster grilled whole, freshly shucked oysters, five-star scampi, just seafood platters galore…and did I mention our gourmet 99’s? Our beach hut menu spills out across our terraces and onto outdoor countertop dining so we can feed as many seafood-loving folk as possible. It has already proven to be the summer outdoor dining hit in London!”

How will you be engaging with guests in new and exciting ways as travel picks up?

KW: “As always, staying in touch with our most loyal supporters is key. However, attracting new clients will also be a focus of ours especially as travel has changed so much. As in the past, we will use a large variety of channels to do so. From direct marketing to newsletters, constant updates on our website, and the creation of exciting offers like our ‘Stepping Out at The Berkeley’ package. Social media will continue to play a key role to stay in touch and share what is happening here in wonderful, leafy Belgravia. I can, however, not wait to get onto a plane and visit our amazing travel partners around the globe.”

If you’re managing to do some travel of your own this season, where are you headed?

KW: “I have most certainly missed my travels over the last year immensely. However, it gave me and my family the opportunity to explore some of the wonderful locations we have to offer here in the UK. We managed to visit Yorkshire, Cornwall and in a few weeks, we will be exploring Wales. My first trip outside the UK will–fingers crossed–take me to Germany to visit my family whom I have not seen for over a year, and then we might take a short trip to the Danish seaside for a bit of R&R!”

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Love this series? Check out “Find My Hotelier Friends: Part I

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