Just recently, we had a conversation with Rami Z. Sayess, the Regional Vice President and General Manager at Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay.
You joined Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay during a global pandemic. Tell us about the challenges that you’re facing so far.
The challenges are very similar to everyone else in the hospitality industry. There’s no doubt that this industry has been amongst the hardest hit sectors in the world. To be frank, if there is a company that I wish to be with during this pandemic, it would be Four Seasons.
The company has reacted on two fronts. First, we cooperated with leading international medical experts in the U.S. to develop Lead With Care, a health and safety program to help protect our employees, guests and everyone we interact with. The second factor is how we took care of our people during this difficult time. We try to go the extra mile to be there for everyone.
The challenges are certainly far from over and we believe that there is more to come. However, we are certainly better prepared this year than we were last year.
How has COVID-19 affected Bahrain’s hospitality industry overall?
There isn’t one hotel or any hospitality sector that has escaped the effects of COVID. It did affect us severely but thankfully, we have a very supportive ownership group and corporate office. As a company, Four Seasons is very solid and we are here to stay. Moreover, the way Bahrain has handled the pandemic is exemplary especially when you look at how it is being handled in other parts of the world.
Is there good news that’s come from the pandemic?
On a personal side, the pandemic gave us time to step back and reflect. There were certain things in life that we took for granted, which we no longer do because we’ve learned that these things can literally change overnight. When you go through different crises, it forces you to take a step back and be grateful for what you have.
There are certainly positives that came out of it but we’re looking forward to whatever the new normal is going to be. We will get there, there’s no doubt.
What are the most significant strengths of Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay?
I would say that our people are our greatest asset without any hesitation. The employees who worked in the hotel from day one as well as our ownership group who really went above and beyond to present a perfect representation of the Four Seasons product. The product speaks for itself in a way that there was no compromise on quality whatsoever.
Do you have any predictions for changes you expect in the luxury hotel industry as a whole?
I believe that luxury is here to stay. We’ve just announced the new and improved Four Seasons Private Jet Experience and we’ve been seeing a lot of interest and bookings coming in. We are also looking at a number of investments and new hotels that are coming up in the pipeline. Several projects have also been confirmed during the pandemic because this is the best time to build or renovate a hotel. This probably also applies to other luxury brands.
Is luxury going away? No. But like everything we do in life, it will change.
How could hotel chains such as yours really differentiate yourselves with others?
We are consistent. This translates not only in our customer service but also in how we treat our people. Treating people is not just by giving them a salary – it’s about providing them with the right quality of living, a sense of belonging, a sense of family especially when they are far away from home. It’s about making them enjoy the journey so that when they are in front of the guest, they are naturally happy.
Moreover, we actually engage in discussions with potential owners. We make sure that our partners understand and believe in our culture.
Another thing that differentiates Four Seasons is its exclusivity – ensuring that each guest experiences the same level of service regardless of which property they stay in around the world.
What can people on the island look forward to?
The hotel itself, as I’ve said to the team, is a land of opportunities. It’s such a beautiful property and set-up and we have opportunities to craft even more memorable experiences for our guests to enjoy. We have several plans lined up and we will soon be announcing them to the market.