Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 1986
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Hotel Manager, Four Seasons Hotel Houston
- Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas; Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo; Four Seasons Hotel México, D.F.; Four Seasons Hotel Toronto; Four Seasons Hotel Houston; Caneel Bay Resort; Condado Plaza Hotel & Casino; Ritz-Carlton Houston; Ritz-Carlton Boston; Melia Puerto de la Cruz Hotel
- Caracas, Venezuela
- Bachelor’s degree, Ince Institute of Hoptek and Restaurant Management, Caracas; Certified Hotel Administrator, American Hotel and Motel Association
- English, Spanish, French
They say you can’t go home again. But Luis Argote did, to the capital of Colombia and a new assignment managing not one, but two new Four Seasons hotels. “I grew up here, in a sense, and it is really exciting to be back,” says Argote, who was appointed opening General Manager of Four Seasons Hotel Casa Medina Bogota and Four Seasons Hotel Bogota in February 2015.
The company, he continues, was perspicacious in its choice of growing its South American footprint by reflagging famed addresses in the heart of the city. Colombia is going high profile from a tourism standpoint, he says, noting that with its economy booming, “it’s one of the best countries to invest in right now. You can feel the energy here Bogota, and that is really going to help us draw travellers.”
Though managing two hotels would seem to double the complexity of the job, Argote says the challenges he faces aren’t out of the ordinary. Though located just two miles (3.2 kilometres) from each other in the financial and commercial heart of the city, one hotel – Casa Medina – is stately and urbane and the other down right contemporary. “I like to think of one as a diamond, the other as a emerald,” he says. “Yet the same Four Seasons standards apply to each.”
The great majority of employees have been with the hotels for years, and Argote personally interviewed every staff member during the transition process. He found a lot of expectation and excitement about Four Seasons in Bogota. “They saw our arrival as an opportunity for growth through exposure to new standards, and that enthusiasm elevates both hotels.”
That elevation includes renovations of each property. Argote saw his opening role to “facilitate and coordinate” the efforts of architects, construction crews and other specialists to assure the result of reimagined rooms, meeting facilities and dining experiences is what international clientele expect. “One of our strengths at Four Seasons is our feel for local culture,” he says. “We want to maintain that feeling in the hotels at all costs while upgrading the guest experiences to second to none.”
Argote’s arrival in Bogota in the midst of two makeovers followed his departure from another in Texas, where he helped launch a complete renovation during four years as General Manager of Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas. “I think that property deserves it.” He likes to think the Bogota reflaggings are the start of new development for the company on the continent. “The economics are in our favour, and the niche of traveller familiar with Four Seasons around the world is here.”
An enduring Four Seasons veteran, Argote has spent his time with the company skipping across the Western Hemisphere: first to Toronto, where he joined as Director of Rooms in 1986; then to Houston, where he was Resident Manager. After leaving the company for a few years, he “saw the light” and returned to Houston as Hotel Manager in 1999 before working his way as General Manager through Mexico City, Costa Rica – honoured as the #1 hotel in Central and South America by readers of Condé Nast Traveler under his leadership – and The Big D.
Argote was destined for hotel work from an early age. Born in Venezuela, he grew up in Bogota where he helped his father, a native Colombian, run city tours from a local hotel. Relegated to second string to cover for guides who were out sick, he spent most of his time in the kitchen but quickly became enamored of the energy and complexity. “The challenges of coordination are what makes this business so exciting,” he says.
While bringing a new level of luxury to Bogota makes Argote’s management motor run, what really excites him is what the hotels are giving back to the company. “I’m really impressed with the quality of the staff we found. We’re giving them exposure to how the Four Seasons flag translates into a new guest experience, and their culture and service orientation lend themselves to ours.”