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The Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at West Lake, China Opens

Rudolf van Dijk the Opening General Manager

Hangzhou at West Lake, China – October 14, 2010 - Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at West Lake is the newest property in the company’s expanding Chinese portfolio, joining sister hotels in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Macau, with ten others currently in development, including Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou, set to open in 2011.

In a city described by Marco Polo as “the finest and most splendid in the world,” there is a lake of clear blue waters embraced by lotuses, osmanthus trees and plum blossoms. Set beneath a backdrop of majestic mountains, it’s the sort of place royalty have come to play, and artists have come to be inspired. Tucked into a private glade on the shores of this magical lake is an intimate village of pavilions and water gardens: Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at West Lake.

“In the spirit of China’s legendary hospitality toward travellers, Four Seasons will offer an experience that is warm and welcoming, with personalised, sophisticated service for our guests from the city and around the world,” says Rudolf van Dijk, General Manager. “West Lake is the perfect location because while being in Hangzhou makes it convenient and accessible, it’s also an intimate setting that showcases the beauty and tradition of the region.”

Rudolf van Dijk, General Manager

"I enjoy focusing on quality throughout the Hotel. There are so many aspects to be addressed and so many ways to put my personal stamp on the guest experience."

  • Four Seasons Tenure: Since 1998 
  • First Four Seasons Assignment: Director of Food and Beverage, Four Seasons Hotel New York
  • Employment History: Four Seasons Hotel Singapore; Four SeasonsHotel Tokyo at Marunouchi; Four SeasonsHotel Bangkok; Four Seasons Hotel Shanghai; Four Seasons Hotel New York; Sandy Lane, Barbados
  • Birthplace: Delft, The Netherlands
  • Education: Graduate, Hotelschool The Hague; Certificate in Oenology, Dutch Wine Academy; Executive Management Program, Cornell University
  • Languages Spoken: Dutch, English, German, French
Flowers are nice, but running hotels is nicer. “My parents still question why I got involved in hospitality,” says Rudolf van Dijk, opening general manager of Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at West Lake, with a satisfied laugh. “My father hoped I’d join his flower business, but I just couldn’t see getting up every day to harvest blossoms for auction.”

What appealed instead was toiling late into the night in restaurants. Though his earliest aspiration was to be a chef, it took van Dijk only a few months in the kitchen to realize that he was better suited for the front of the house. Following hotel school, he managed four restaurants in The Netherlands, and each was awarded a Michelin star on his watch. In addition to the realisation that achieving two stars would have been “a daunting task,” the job taught him the lasting values of frugality, persistence and communicating confidently with guests and staff. “I learned early on that you can’t manage from behind your desk.”

After an initial posting in New York, van Dijk worked his way up theFour Seasons management ladder in Asia, with stops in China, Thailand, Japan and Singapore. In his new position, he has the pleasure of getting a singular address off the ground. The two-storey, multi-building property is a standout where high-rise hotels are the rule, he notes. “And the beauty of our lakeside location is just amazing.”

With the Asian tradition of exemplary service already mirroring the attentiveness and sincerity for which Four Seasons is renowned, van Dijk’s focus has been on heightening the guest experience throughout the entire stay, a novel approach to hospitality in China. Among many areas he has addressed is getting the front-line staff well tutored in English. The effort has paid off handsomely, just as it did when he was Hotel manager of Four Seasons Hotel Shanghai and insisted on hiring three English tutors to teach Australian, American and British dialects to the staff.

Though busy with the opening, van Dijk maintains an active lifestyle and has a passion for endurance sports. An avid cyclist, he recently abandoned his road bike after local thoroughfares riddled with “humps and bumps” had him fixing flat after flat. Now, he spends hours on Sundays “getting down and dirty,” mountain biking with a cycling buddy.

The clientele of the new Hangzhou property will doubtlessly be impressed: “Guests like to see you sweat,” he says of the intensity he brings to the bike trail and the Hotel floor. “When they see you’re into it, they are, too.”

Jiang Nan Style
The new Hotel at West Lake may be mistaken for a traditional Chinese village at first glance. Series of pagoda-like buildings edge out onto lagoons among 9 acres (3.6 hectares) of meandering walkways and lush bamboo groves. Inside, the centuries-old Jiang Nan aesthetic inspires modern interiors created from sleek woods, fine silks and polished stone. The Hotel will offer 78 guest rooms, including seven suites and three residential-style villas.

With its gardens, lakeside setting and resort-like amenities, guests may imagine they are in a country club rather than an urban hotel just minutes from business, shopping and cultural attractions.

New to Hangzhou’s Social Scene: Jin Sha
At the heart of the Hotel will be Jin Sha, a dining experience that promises to keep local gourmands coming back for more, and travellers from afar recommending it to friends. Featuring exquisite Shanghainese and Cantonese cuisine presented by attentive Four Seasons staff, Jin Sha will be a lively bar for pre-dinner drinks and a chic restaurant suitable for business meetings and social occasions.Eleven private dining rooms allow guests to entertain discreetly. Terraces afford lagoon views and willow-veiled glimpses of West Lake, enhancing a truly memorable dining experience.

In a region famous for its teas, including the prized Longjing green tea (also known as Dragonwell), the Lobby Lounge at Four Seasons will offer traditional afternoon tea service. Guests can also visit WLB– short for West Lake Bistro – for regional and international dining, and The Bar.

In addition to the private dining rooms, the Hotel will have several high-tech meeting spaces, including a ballroom with separate entrance and outdoor reception lawn.

Natural Therapies Meet Therapeutic Science
The Spa has nine suites, all large enough for couples treatments. Each suite is a private world within itself, with massage tables and experience showers for steam and aromatherapy. Cutting-edge therapies are inspired by ancient Chinese and Asian traditions. Relax in an infinity-edge pool that appears to float above the lagoon, and complete the physical and spiritual journey at Four Seasons with a second swimming pool, a fully-equipped fitness centre and private pathways for walking and jogging.

Four Seasons Hotel West Lake at Hangzhou will join three existing sister properties in China, as well as the soon-to-be opened Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou, and seven additional properties in development.

“China is strategically important for Four Seasons, both as a destination and an outbound market for our hotels and resorts around the world,” notes Kathleen Taylor, president and COO at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. “With an expanding portfolio in China, the company is set to expand its position as the premier luxury hospitality choice for travellers to and within the region, and favoured brand of Chinese travelling abroad.”


Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

Also See: Four Seasons in China: Opening Two New Hotels in Hangzhou and Guangzhou in 2010 with Nine Additional Properties in Development / May 2010

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