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Colin Clark, General Manager of Four Seasons Palm Beach, Florida,
Reflects on Global Posts and Positions Spanning 22-years

By Carolyn DiPaolo, The Palm Beach Post, Fla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Feb. 10, 2013--PALM BEACH -- Colin Clark has traveled the world with his employer Four Seasons. He started in 1990 as a reception manager at a resort in Hong Kong. He then worked his way up in various locations before joining the Four Seasons Palm Beach as general manager in 2010.

February is a busy time at the oceanfront hotel where the best suites this time of year command upward of $4,000 a night.

In recent months, the resort doubled the size of its Fitness Club, introduced a new restaurant called Graze and added an after-dinner DJ in its renovated Living Room on weekends. At the moment, Clark is working with designers on another new restaurant and bar with its launch due in early December.

Name: Colin P. Clark

Age: 49

Hometown: Edinburgh, Scotland.

Education: Graduated, Napier University Edinburgh in business studies.

Family: Austrian wife Natascha and Singapore-born 17 year old daughter Nadja, "the girls."

About your company: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has more than 38,000 players located in 92 properties globally. We're based in Toronto and have the vision to be the luxury hospitality company of choice around the world. I've been with Four Seasons 22 years and as a family we have lived in Hong Kong, Singapore, Bali, Bangkok, Dallas, London and now Palm Beach. The Four Seasons resort here in Palm Beach is stunning, located on a wide, relaxing stretch of beach and offers a variety of wonderful dining, spa and fitness activities and has an overall fresh, welcoming and sophisticated atmosphere.

First paying job and what you learned from it: As a sparkies' assistant (electrician's assistant) on a building site. I learned to always wear my helmet!

First break in the business: As a waiter in one of Scotland's legendary resorts, Gleneagles. It's beautiful, surrounded by golf, woods, meandering streams and tiny villages nestled between the mountains. The next role was across the ocean for me, as I headed to Aspen, Colo., working at the Sardy House hotel. I remember arriving with $120 in my pocket, no cell phone and no credit card. All was good and superb skiing every day.

How your business has changed: We're in the business of making beds and squeezing oranges, while thrilling our guests every day. This remains a constant. Change comes with our ability to reach broad audiences. Therefore, very quickly, one needs to have the confidence to be bold and take well-thought through risks. Customizing experiences for all who come to the resort is a must, while creating wondrous experiences.

Our vision for the resort paints the picture of what we are developing, "You'll feel fabulous at Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach. A vivacious staff welcomes you to our ocean front playground where the allure of Palm Beach comes to life. Whether you live here or visiting, it's where the quintessential beach lifestyle meets adventure -- sexy and vibrant, fresh and fun." We also focus on creating a sense of place within the resort and having the desire to play a contributing role within the community; the team devoting time to Feeding South Florida, Habitat for Humanity, United Way and more.

We also launched our own 24-hour relay run "Orange Aid" when we annually raise funds for the Sari Asher Center for Integrative Cancer Care, in West Palm Beach.

What can you share about your daily routine as the general manager? No matter how one tries to plan the day, there are always surprises and curve balls. It makes for exciting times which I enjoy tremendously. It's a balance of being out and about throughout the resort, while also having the mindset to be planning ahead, months and years, for where we wish to be as a resort. I also travel quite a bit, whether on sales trips or to Toronto, our corporate home base.

What kind of measures of success do you use? There are a multitude of ways for us to measure ourselves, from guest happiness and appreciation, to the pride and energy of our team and the importance of clear communication throughout all 400 team members, to our business growth year over year and compared to our competitors.

Book recommendation: For sheer motivation and making a difference in our world -- Long Walk to Freedom, The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

Best piece of business advice you ever received: Be yourself, don't ever try to be someone else.

What you tell young people about your business: It's hugely rewarding with endless cultural experiences if you wish to explore the world. You know you're contributing to a business with like minded professional folk who spend their day upbeat and have the ability to adapt with constant change. There are opportunities to learn and delve into so many aspects of business, marketing and human behavior.

Many successful people learn from failure. Do you have a failure you can share and what you learned from it? One a day, but I get back up, shake the dust off and go at it with a different approach. I learn and listen to others.

What do you see ahead for Palm Beach County? I think folk are perhaps wishing to travel a little less and homing in on familiar locations like Palm Beach where they have built up meaningful relationships. Time is precious. Palm Beach is an ideal location for many. It's physically beautiful with a buzz and is constantly evolving -- sporting events, cultural happenings and just enjoying our beaches.

Power lunch spot: Was Hamburger Heaven on the island and I'm happy to know they have reopened on Clematis, however a true hot spot I must say is our ocean front Atlantic Bar & Grill, or 'AB&G' where the sand meets Four Seasons. We also have a brand new poolside restaurant, Graze, perfect for a power business lunch, but with the beauty of a relaxing coastal setting.

Passion cause outside of work: Endurance sports, my two girls and traveling to explore.

Where we'd find you when you're not at the office: I'm an up early and outdoors guy... enjoying biking, running, swimming, kayaking, our beaches and blue skies.

Favorite smartphone app: Pandora.

What is the most important trait you look for when hiring? Committed personality, trustworthiness, uncomplicated and having bucket loads of high energy and willingness to take oneself with a grain of salt. Quiet confidence and a good dose of humbleness.


(c)2013 The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.)

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