Bahrain Confidential interviews Richard Raab, the new General Manager of Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay.
Can you describe what a typical day in your job looks like?
What I love the most about it is that everyday is different. But normally when I do come in at the hotel, I like to go to the reception and just get a quick update and see if there’s anything urgent I should know about. Then, I like to go at the room service where breakfast is served just to see that everything is up and running. If there’s a big event, I normally walk by there as well to make sure that the day is set up and everything is running smoothly. Once that’s done, I go down to the office and have a quick look at emails, daily reports, etc. In the morning, we have a meeting with the management team and the operation team of the hotel where we go through events for the day and special arrivals, maintenance etc. I also make sure to have time allocated to meet and talk to guests at the lobby.
What motivated you to go into the luxury hospitality industry?
I was very much into Economics when I was younger. As a little boy, my grandparents lived in a small village in the West Coast of Norway, which is very picturesque and beautiful. All the cruise ships come in the summer months – that’s when I saw the captain with his hat, stripes and nice uniform. That’s the job I wanted as a little boy but I then learned that you have to study mechanical engineering to be the captain of the cruise ship which wasn’t my cup of tea.
Studying Economics back in Sweden where I grew up, I realized that I wasn’t an office person to sit in an office job 8, 10, 12 hours a day. It kind of all went into place when I went into the hotel business where I could do human resource and marketing – that attracted me.
What do you think sets Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay apart from the other hotels in the region?
I think Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay has the legendary service – there’s no doubt. We spend a lot of time training our people: developing and motivating their morale, trying to get them do the little extra things for the guests. That comes from having the right management culture in the building, where there’s actually a feel that the employees are empowered to do it. I would agree that a lot of people try to achieve that and we’re receiving feedback that Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay is quite good in making it happen on a daily basis. The Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay has won a tremendous amount of awards within two years of its opening which is phenomenal. It’s my job now to continue building on that.
At work, what/who puts a smile in your face?
One of the things that really, really, puts a smile on my face is when you are able to promote people whom you have previously worked with and mentored. It is a phenomenal feeling and it just makes me very proud.
What advice would you offer to those who are inspired to become successful in the hotel industry?
It’s a business where you have to start from the bottom. You have to be willing – no matter what fancy hotel school you went to in the world. When you start, you have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and learn how to do it from the bottom.
What is your favourite place to visit in Bahrain?
I loved exploring the island since I got here. One area which I really liked was the Bahrain Farmer’s Market on a Saturday morning. It’s just brilliant to go there and see the liveliness of the vegetables, fruits and products. On top of it, you come home with some of the best vegetables that you have on the island which is extraordinary. I really enjoy that.
The Avenues is part of the whole Bahrain Bay development. It will draw more foot traffic to the area and we’re looking at what is the potential transportation between The Avenues and the hotel is going to be. We’re also revamping and spicing things up at CUT Lounge by Wolfgang Puck where guests will be able to delight themselves in fine beverages, classic American bites along with live DJ entertainment.
The designer of Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay is the same designer as Burj Khalifa in Dubai – Skidmore, Owings and Merrill.