Home is not new, you know where everything is, and you love your pillow, the best in the world (although Girlahead must confess she has recently been impressed, while in Dubai, by the boxes of Barbie-sized pillow types at Atlantis the Royal and by the posture pillows in SIRO). She must also admit how great it is to return, from time to time, to hotels that are tried, tested, and loved.
Hotel GMs are honestly the key to home-like hotels. They need to stay, rather than flit from one property to another at butterfly speed. At Four Seasons Jumeirah Beach in Dubai Leo Baiocchi, above, is no butterfly. He’s been running this hotel since it opened, December 2004. He’s been with Four Seasons 31 years, since graduating from Glion (don’t we all love operating hoteliers who have no time for social media because they have time for PEOPLE). This guy is a people person, identifying which enthusiastic youngster on his team has GM potential, talking to guests. He urged one regular guest to do things differently and try one of the new hotels. Momentarily subdued, the customer did just that. He checked out. moved to a new hotel but he returned before nightfall. He wanted tried-and-tested.
But that’s not to say tried-and-tested should not evolve. Baiocchi’s introduced ceiling-hung and ceiling-high floral art displays in the four corners of the arrival lobby (they’re changed and titivated by well-dressed florists at 5 a.m.). He’s rented part of the hotel’s beach to Nammo’s Greek club, and also installed, there, AI-designed and computer-generated ‘printed’ Dior boutiques which according to heresay have highest per-sale rate among all Diors in town. He’s replacing his all-purpose Suq restaurant by one French and one Indian offering. He introduced Matthew Kenney plant-based wellness food.
This is a GM who learned his own wellness under Simon Hirst at Four Seasons Chiang Mai and the gym here, in Dubai, is superb. 24/7, latest bits of Technogym and everything works. Fruits, nuts and what Girlahead calls ‘hairdryers for muscles’. OK, that’s unlike home, but…..wishful thinking, to have such facilities à la maison. If only, too, one had Sybille de Margerie’s colour flair at home. See a video of hotel suite #348.