“Our guest profile within Four Seasons is becoming an increasingly a millennial guest.”
–Ben Trodd, Senior Vice-President of Sales and Marketing for Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts Worldwide
For a luxury hotel brand that began with one “motor hotel” in Canada by Isadore Sharp, the sun now never sets on the Four Seasons empire. Far beyond its two Toronto properties, Four Seasons manages over 100 individually-owned properties of distinction around the globe, having expanded geographically, and stylistically. Previous perceptions of an efficient, upper-crust cold, businesslike brand of crisp straight lines are now replaced with new impressions such as creative, cool, cultured and inventive.
Ben Trodd is a big part of the reason for the season of innovation at Four Seasons. Since 1995 the now Senior Vice-President of Sales and Marketing for Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts worldwide has worked worldwide with employees, guests, travel partners, and hotel owners in Canada; Dublin; London; Seattle; Silicon Valley; Mexico; Central America California, New Orleans, French Polynesia and more.
At Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas, from a table in a breakout room, Trodd imaginatively walked me around the new world of Four Seasons – an aspirational brand name which invokes an implication for taste and quality which transcends its actual product in the same way Rolls Royce, Rolex, Walt Disney, Paris, and a blue Tiffany box do. Which is to say Bed Trodd is the “Four Seasons” of hotel executives.
Sitting Still with Globetrotter Ben Trodd
MPS: Mr. Trodd, 60 years is not a long time in the big scheme of the travel industry, yet in that period of time Four Seasons has raised the bar by raising a flag at some of the world’s most important addresses.
BT: “Michael Patrick, Four Seasons is a huge hotel brand and we realize that history goes beyond that. In the 1920’s some of the great hotels of the world opened: The George V in Paris, which is now one of ours, for instance. The Pierre in New York and the Beverly Wilshire, to name a couple more. These ‘grand dame’ hotels have gone on to be part of society. The glamor of that period and the excitement of showing up to a hotel and being beautifully dressed is something we’ve embraced.”
MPS: Or beautifully undressed, as in the case of your resort in French Polynesia, which has to be one of earth’s most recognized and photographed. Sports Illustrated even photographed its swimsuit edition there.
BT: “Four Seasons Bora Bora is such a magical place. I went to visit many times on my own, which is a strange experience because it’s such a honeymoon destination. But I was still absolutely amazed that, even with the power of beautiful photography and video we have now, by the color and tone of the water and light there. It blew me away. I have visited more than 100 of our hotels and I thought I’d seen some of the most fabulous experiences anywhere but Bora Bora is truly magical. And the way they have such a strong connection to the culture and the environment there in French Polynesia is special.”
MPS: The embarkation point for Bora Bora is typically Los Angeles. Four Seasons has three hotels in that market.
BT: “In Beverly Hills we’re very lucky to have two hotels within quite a short space of each other geographically that have a completely different profile to them. The Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire and The Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, on Doheny Drive, which has always had a strong connection to the music and film industry. It’s been the host of many press junkets to launch just about every movie you’ve ever heard of. You can ride up and down the elevator and see ‘A List’ celebrities so that brings an energy. And in terms of energy they’ve also just launched a ‘wellness floor.’
And Four Seasons Westlake Village, not far away near Malibu, is completely renovated and has one of the best spas in the world.
MPS: Honeymooners and models and movie stars?
BT: “There is a perception we operate in an older age group, but our guest profile within Four Seasons is becoming, increasingly, a millennial guest. The average age of a Four Seasons guest is now 43-years old.”
MPS: Has that provoked strategic adjustments?
BT: “Our guests want to go to Charlotte and Nashville and Minneapolis and New Orleans and so we’re opening in these types of cities. It gives us a chance to connect with the culture of those cities. We take pride in it and it’s fun for us.”
MPS: New Orleans is a very old city but it’s a bumping town. Can Four Seasons fit into that French Quarter scene?
“The New Four Seasons Hotel in New Orleans is stunning. It’s fun to see what we’re doing in that city. One of my daughters goes to college there and the hotel has a beautiful rooftop restaurant and a great music scene. The ‘room product’ there is very special.”
Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Saudi Arabia’s Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal own Four Seasons. Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison owns the Four Seasons Resort Lanai in Hawaii. Four Seasons also manages intriguing, high-profile properties such as Four Seasons Hualalai on the Big Island; The Ocean Club on Paradise Island in the Bahamas; San Domenico Palace in Taormina, Italy; two hotels in Istanbul, and many more.
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