There are certain cities the global traveller could stay in for a long time. Well, actually there are lots of them, Istanbul, Paris, Vienna, all of which the gal has been to in the last few weeks. Another is San Francisco, getting ready for the 34th America’s Cup this year. The Challenger Selection and Defender Trials will be held simultaneously, July 4th to August 31st, 2013, and the actual Cup Match is September 7-23, 2013. We can expect every luxury hotel in the city to be full – well it would have been anyway, what with summer tourists and business coming back by September. It is therefore great to be looking out at its significant skyline knowing it is calm before the storm, so to speak.
So here I am, back at Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco. I look out at the view, across Market. I look across my room, and see a bottle selection that reminds me I am in the Great and the Good land of modern wine production. From left to right, in the photo, are a Ridge Zinfandel from Sonoma Valley, 2007; a Chappellet Signature Bordeaux Blend from Napa Valley, 2010; Darioush Bordeaux blend 2009, Napa Valley; and a bottle of the Mondavi-Rothschild joint venture, Opus One, Bordeaux Blend 2008, Napa Valley. This last one is priced at $330, and it comes with stylish Riedel-style big glasses.
The room has been personalized, with things that are just right for me. The canapés are rolled in cucumber, or smoked salmon. They stand on a tray decorated with images from GirlAhead. Personalisation makes anybody feel good. The worst aspect of de-personalisation was at the Essex House hotel in New York many years ago, before it became Jumeirah (now, of course, it is Marriott). The room was filled with enough flowers to do justice to a state funeral or wedding. Several hours later I found a card, with someone else’s name. Being a good girl then, as now, I telephoned down. No-one apologised. Two, not one, bellmen arrived with two baggage carts and took every single arrangement away, leaving me with nothing at all.
After a long flight I am going to personalize even more, have a favourite snack – to go with the canapés. Since all Four Seasons hotels can miraculously do set private dining (room service) dishes in 15 minutes of ordering, I think I will have a starter of caprese. I get, in 15 minutes exactly, a main-course-size portion, a whole mozzarella and lots of lovely heirloom tomatoes, yellow ones and red ones and a yummy balsamic sauce. Even healthy people have snacks they particularly like and this is certainly one of mine, though the result does really depend on the freshness and quality of both cheese and tomatoes. The 15-minute menu here is expressly labeled From Farm To Table and I guess the farm must have been pretty close. Within a 15-minute radius?
They do basics beautifully here, at this 277-room hotel. The egg chef is so good he is current employee of the year, the winner out of an outstanding team of 400. His name is Elvis, called because his mother, back in San Salvador, loved The King. Elvis, in turn, loves his work. He beams with pride. After 11 years here, he is still so proud, he says, to be working in the best hotel in the world. After having his photo taken he bustles back into his kitchen, presumably to do yet more eggs, probably mostly egg-white-only travesties since there are so many Americans staying here.
Some stay here because it is close to their business, some for the superb shopping in the immediate vicinity. Some stay because the hotel has direct access to one of the world’s ten best gyms, Sports Club/LA, all two floors (and 120,000 sq feet of it). Others love this luxury hotel for its superb collection of modern art. Four of the paintings, including the one shown, have been reproduced on bedroom door keys. Thousands of touch points like this add up to making a customer experience memorable.