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The Four Seasons Opens in Beirut, Lebanon after Ten Years
in Planning and Five Years Under Construction

Opening General Manager Stefan Simkovics


 
January 12, 2010 - When the beaming smiles of the doormen at Four Seasons Hotel Beirut dazzle their very first guests, the city will take another quantum step forward in its renaissance as a 21st century metropolis. There are few in Beirut who won’t share the uniformed front men’s sense of pride; ten years in the planning and five years under construction, the Hotel opens as a gleaming statement of intent for the whole country: Come experience warm, genuine Lebanese hospitality.

Nowhere is the city’s unique energy more intensely felt than through its own people – a proud culture with an indomitable spirit and an insatiable zest for life. The newest Four Seasons has filtered this energy down to its purest form, with over 300 local recruits amplifying the warm welcome found on the streets outside.

“I always look for the fire in the eyes of any prospective new recruit,” says General Manager Stefan Simkovics – a 40+ year veteran of the hotel industry, nearly 16 of them with Four Seasons – “but I have never seen such fire as I have here in Beirut. Every hotel has the flowers, the decoration, the facilities... But here it is the team that shines the brightest.” 
 

General Manager Stefan Simkovics

Leading the team of 350 personnel hand-chosen from applicants from Lebanon and around the world is a veteran of Four Seasons since 1981, his past experience in his native Europe, in the United States and most recently in China has readied him for the landmark opening of Four Seasons Hotel Beirut.

Four Seasons Tenure:
1981 to 1984; Since 1997 
First Four Seasons Assignment: Executive Assistant Manager at The Pierre New York (formerly a Four Seasons Hotel)
Employment History:
The Ritz-Carlton Chicago (a Four Seasons Hotel); Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver; Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco; Four Seasons Hotel Beijing (pre-opening); Four Seasons Hotel Berlin (now The Regent Berlin); Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten, Hamburg, Germany; The Westbury Hotel, New York; The Stanhope Hotel, New York; Bel Age Hotel, Los Angeles; The Pierre New York (formerly a Four Seasons Hotel); prior to first joining Four Seasons, Simkovics spent time at The Ritz Paris and The Imperial, Vienna, as well as 10 years with the Hilton group.
Birthplace:
Vienna, Austria
Education:
Hotel School, Vienna, Austria
Languages Spoken:
German, French and English

Since his first role as a bellboy at The Imperial in Vienna, Stefan Simkovics has been under the spell of the hotel industry. “It’s about much more than travelling the world,” he explains. “It’s about really getting to spend time in places and living a life free from routine; every day is different, every minute an adventure.”

Now, over 40 years later, the General Manager of Four Seasons Hotel Beirut still thrives on adventure. And fortunately, the adventures keep on coming. Having been at the helm of four of the company’s properties during the past four years, the recent demands of the job have been amongst the most intense of Simkovics’s career. “But I have enjoyed them,” he says with a smile. “I first joined the industry for the challenges, the ups and downs, the irregular times, the excitement of not knowing what each day would bring. The more complicated the work is, the more fun it is – and the more I love it.”

Simkovics is the archetypal inspirator, empowering his staff to manage each hotel while he in turn guides them to be the best they can be. He believes that flexibility is key to succeeding in the industry, and traces his own success to his early days with Four Seasons when he joined The Pierre New York as Executive Assistant Manager in 1981. “It was a real milestone in my career,” he recalls. “I developed a style that was more about leadership than management, which helped me to find the right balance between fulfilling the needs of the guest, the owners and the company.”

Outside the industry, Simkovics leads a similarly balanced lifestyle. He works out, swims, hikes, enjoys mountain biking, travelling and visiting historic sites, and reads “a lot.” “Nothing too outrageous for me these days,” he laughs.

His enthusiasm for his latest city, Beirut, is palpable. Describing it as “beautiful, vibrant, fascinating, amazing ... like the south of France meets the Orient,” he also recognises that the city is more than ready to welcome high-end international guests once again: “There is a great sense of excitement and anticipation in the air.” And what of the Hotel itself? “Service is at its best when you don’t feel it. The Hotel is just the right size and layout to showcase Four Seasons at its very best.”

From the moment of arrival in the pristine driveway, the welcome is as luminescent as the glittering light that bounces off the adjacent Mediterranean. Interiors inspired by local traditions are equally inviting: from the Lebanese artwork, carved screens and gilded calligraphy of the lobby to the buzzing Boulevard lounge that tempts visitors with the rich aromas of a European café and sofas designed for hours of conversation. 

In the vibrant streets surrounding the Hotel, friendly faces await all visitors. A few minutes’ walk away, downtown Beirut – resplendent with its restored architecture and branded boutiques – epitomizes the city’s reincarnation. A rich maze of ochre alleys capped with red-tiled roofs reveal a muddle of art galleries and antique shops, cafés and restaurants. Brightly lit at night, magic and intrigue burst from every doorway.

Throughout the Hotel, the magic continues in the quality of details: from a prime cut of Executive Chef Ossola’s Charolais beef on the The Grill Room’s marina-view terrace (try it with a glass of Domaine Wardy, Private Selection 2004 from Lebanon’s Bekáa Valley) to the heavenly homemade truffles that accompany coffees beneath The Bar’s dramatic red and gold chandelier. Large terraces are standard in all 230 guest rooms and suites. The Spa, a cool statement of white marble and gold mosaics, has a suede-panelled couple’s suite with private terrace and Jacuzzi. And the rooftop pool – a glittering 26th floor oasis with 360 degree views – towers above the raucous cityscape like a suspended haven of tranquillity. 

Rooftop Pool Lounge
Atop the 26th floor, the sun-drenched, glass-enclosed pool will be a haven for travel-weary guests by day. As the sun sets, the night sky will light up and the music will begin as the rooftop of Four Seasons Hotel Beirut is transformed into a chic urban cocktail and tapas lounge. Already anticipated by local scene-makers and sophisticated travellers to the city that was recently referred to as “the next cool destination,” the rooftop pool lounge will be open to Hotel guests and non-guests alike beginning in spring 2010.

French-Inspired Interiors
With a nod to Beirut’s long trade and cultural association with Paris, French designer Pierre-Yves Rochon has created classic interiors that contrast with the Hotel’s contemporary exterior. Rich materials such as polished maple, bronzed wallpaper and chinoiserie lamps, together with a warm palette of gold and yellow with brick, black and green, create a welcoming residential-style atmosphere. Rochon’s impeccable attention to detail includes careful placement of locally sourced antique brass pieces, carved wooden screens and sculptures.

A crack team of concierges holds the key to the sum of 5000 years of cultural creativity: insider access to fashion shows and art exhibitions as well as the city’s never-ending programme of concerts and festivals. Elsewhere, religious architecture, Phoenician ruins, beachside bars and world-leading nightclubs are served up against the sublime backdrop of the Lebanon Mountains in areas that range from the achingly modern to the gritty and pock-marked. “I always tell people that wherever you are in Beirut, you can feel the magic,” laughs Simkovics. “It is one of the sexiest cities in the world: enticing, vain, scarred, beautiful, complex and exciting.” 

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Contact: 

Four Seasons Hotel Beirut
Suzan Bou Dargham
Director of Public Relations
1418 Professor Wafic Sinno Avenue
Minet El Hosn, Beirut, Lebanon 2020 4107
Email Suzan Bou Dargham
T. 961 (1) 761000 
 http://press.fourseasons.com/beirut/


 
Also See: Delays in Government Formation Damaging Lebanon's Hospitality Industry: Construction of a Grand Hyatt, a Four Seasons Hotel and a Kempinski Hotel and Resort Have Questionable Opening Dates / August 2009
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