a man standing on a blue surface overlooking a city

I’m best known for helping people save money and upgrade their travels through the savvy of points and miles, but no one loves a perfectly executed vacation more than I do.

Sometimes, dare I say it, that means ditching points and miles and splurging on the places and things that makes a trip as memorable and seamless as it can be. As hotel points programs continue to self destruct and devalue their currencies, that emotional detachment has gotten a lot easier to jettison.

No chain has the best hotel in any given city, and I love a great Airbnb, but lately the Four Seasons has been ticking all the boxes for me and winning more of my business. It’s an indulgence, but also a product I find worth indulging in.

I’ve heard people bang on about it for decades, but I’m pretty sold.

Stays have felt like the old school days of hotels in the hospitality business, rather than the lodging business, and the investment in personalization is simply outstanding. I get that these hotels may not be practical for everyone, but there are valuable nuggets to take away from these experiences, so I’ll share all the same.

a room with a bed and a television

Perks Without The Hassles Of Loyalty

At luxury hotels, such as the Four Seasons, loyalty helps, but how you book does too. I use a Four Seasons Preferred Agent, Michael Trager, who GSTP Royal Suites members have access to, to book my stays.

By doing so, I enjoy perks that I’d have to work for at other chains with a lofty number of nights, automatically.

A ridiculously generous complimentary breakfast for two is standard, as is a typically $100 property credit or amenity, in addition to late check out and a one category room upgrade, the latter subject to availability.

Preferred agents also have access to private “Third Night Free” style offers quite often, which can be total game changers on pricing, or at least palatable to more people.

This ‘Four Seasons Preferred Partner’ method of booking also gives the travel agent an opportunity to liaise with the hotel on behalf of the client to help personalize the stay or celebrate special moments.

I’ve found most hotels are eager to help in this way without even asking. They want to know their guests and entertain them. I can’t say that about any major loyalty chain stays, lately, though I wish I could.

I find myself surprised by the satisfaction, because just years ago, I felt many Four Seasons were becoming dated both in property and approach. That’s not been my experience lately at all. They seem extremely “on it” with service and room refreshes are fantastic.

a stuffed animal next to slippers and a backpack

Personalization To Perfection

My stays are a mix of work travel and when I’m lucky, travel with my wife and two year old daughter. Whenever I’ve arrived at a Four Seasons with my family, there’s been a little “kid friendly” amenity in the room and a focus on happiness.

Sometimes it’s a coloring set and personalized welcome note for Olive, and sometimes it’s something more over the top, like a stuffed animal. Her eyes light up and her smile is worth something there to me, for sure!

This week, at the stunning Four Seasons Lisbon which is finishing an amazing refresh, there were even kiddie slippers in the room, which were highly amusing to our little one. A sweet note was left in the room suggesting a trip to the local zoo, with clear instructions for getting there.

The front of house team, including the fabulous Mariana, even made an effort to learn Olive’s name. They say hello in the lobby, even if Olive doesn’t yet say it back. Trust me when I say this is not “blogger” treatment. We have friends in residence here this week who are experiencing the same joys.

I found the same in Las Vegas recently as well, traveling solo. Where possible, people try to remember your name.

Making Work, Easy

When I stay for work, Four Seasons has been the most predicting of my needs of the major hotels I’ve stayed with.

In fact, rooms proudly display cards on work desks stating that any equipment such as extra computer monitors, ring lights, keyboards and other business centric tools can be furnished for free during the stay.

This helps lighten packing loads too, which I’d value at “priceless”, personally. Anything not to check a bag! You had me at carry on – etc.

Tables for one in Four Seasons property restaurants have also been pleasant, and staff seem empowered to entertain solo guests, whether it’s a generous wine pour, or just good chat. Depending on the day, one or the other usually does the trick.

a bed with white sheets and a lamp

Leaning Into Hospitality Costs Money

Amenities cost money. Slippers cost money, and the generous breakfast credit for guests who book through preferred partner agents also costs real money.

At a time when major hotel groups are slashing away at all of the above, and even daily housekeeping, it’s really refreshing to see a chain actively investing in the satisfaction of customers. It’s a cost, but one which can earn a rate premium over others as travel rebounds. For me, it’s certainly worth something, which is the game, right?

There are other luxury brands leaning into guest satisfaction, including recent changes from Peninsula and the ultra baller status from Shangri-La, but right now, for me, Four Seasons is winning business. As long as they continue to, I’ll be back.

What’s your favorite luxury hotel brand?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Oh man, they have some great resorts, but the recent price hikes have killed me. I just stayed at the FS Napa and the price was $1800 per night. I also love the FS Wailea. Always feels so welcome there. I guess I gotta get another job to pay for these rooms!!!

    1. I’d say generally hotel rates are just reaching wild levels, FS, or not. I am not sure when that twill change, sadly. As illogical as it may be, once lower end properties are asking crazy money, I’d rather just pay “more” crazy money than feel deflated by the offering at some of the lower end ones. I guess that’s where FS has its sweet spot right now.

  2. I love Four Seasons, from Baltimore to Kuala Lumpur, my stays have been memorable. They are extremely expensive, the preferred partner booking make up some but then I find myself feeling guilty if I don’t eat breakfast at the hotel since now it’s included. Looking forward to the Four Seasons Minneapolis opening soon.

  3. Was a bit disappointed last year with having to request daily cleaning at the FS Jackson Hole, which I discovered after arriving back at the hotel after a long day of sightseeing. Also found a few long neglected maintenance issues with several items in my room. Restaurants also seemed to have mostly unhealthy, unimaginative menus. They seem to have been unprepared for the deluge of travelers that showed up just as I was leaving just before Memorial Day 2021. The experience will make me think twice about booking at other FS properties.

    1. I think it is very tough to gauge anything during covid. And even though travel was starting to “open up” last year (2021), it was still very much “covid times.” Heck, many full-service properties discontinued housekeeping, room service, glassware, etc. This is not an excuse, but more so an observation. 2022, of course, no excuse. But, as an example, the only hotel in Boston with 24-hour room service and twice-daily housekeeping (AFAIK, as of February/March 2022) is Four Seasons. But, now that I say that, I’m wondering if the MO has 24-hour room service again.

  4. St Regis used to be my favorite, but now it’s Luxury Collection, class all the way, nothing formulaic and personalization as you mention.

  5. FS is fantastic……usually. I loved FS HK, pre-covid I was upgraded to the same suite a number of stays. The FS Astir Palace Athens was amazing in Sept 2021 as was the FS Florence in Nov 2021. At FS Beverly Hills, you’re treated like a nobody unless you’re a celebrity. Pre-covid, my room was not serviced until I called…at 5pm. Service at FS Bogota pre-covid was unbelievably substandard. As usual, buyer beware

    1. I think every luxury brand has deviations throughout the world, even with strong service standards like Four Seasons, Mandarin, Belmond, etc., etc. I do believe it is extremely important that you point out these things DURING your stay and also to the travel advisor who booked your stay. I am a huge fan of allowing a property the opportunity to “mea culpa” when there is a service failure. Of course, that is impossible for the property to do, if not advised immediately. Should it be that way, NOPE? 5* service should always be consistent. But, we also do not live in a “perfect” world.

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