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Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus

  • Çırağan Cad. No. 28, 34349 Istanbul, Beşiktaş, Turkey
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Leonardo Baiocchi

General Manager

“My background is in the rooms division but my hospitality interests vary widely. I love the creativity behind marketing. Being Italian, I’m volcanic: I erupt with ideas.”

Four Seasons Tenure

  • Since 1993
  • First Four Seasons Assignment: Front Desk, Four Seasons Hotel Milano

Employment History

  • Palazzo Tornabuoni Private Club and Residences; Four Seasons Hotel Firenze; Four Seasons Hotel Budapest; Four Seasons Resort Sharm El Sheikh; Four Seasons Hotel London at Canary Wharf; Four Seasons Hotel Chicago; Four Seasons Hotel Milano; Regent Chiang Mai, Thailand

Birthplace

  • Nairobi, Kenya

Education

  • Hotel Management Degree, Glion Hotel School, Clarens, Switzerland

Languages Spoken

  • Italian, English, French

Hand this much to Leonardo Baiocchi: He likes to aim high. “What I want to do is make this one of the top European hotels,” says the general manager of Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus, adding in a snap: “Not that it’s not there already.”

So, how does Baiocchi plan to take the river’s-edge address even higher? “The focus has to be on enhancing service,” he responds, clicking off the disparate needs of the Hotel’s diverse client base, including leisure and business travellers as well as a strong group and meetings segment. “We can impress from three angles, whereas most hotels can only do it from one. That’s another key ingredient of being a top hotel.”

Baiocchi will oversee the re-conception of Aqua Restaurant to attract more local clientele, a timely move in a city that has lately experienced a culinary awakening. “There are lots of cool restaurants opening in Istanbul right now and we want Aqua to be a standout on the dining scene.” With city sophisticates also awakening to the benefits of natural skincare, a new organic line is in the works for the Hotel’s 22,600 square-foot (2100 square metre) Spa. “Clients are focused on wellness and well-being these days. There is a potential for growth and we’re directing a lot of attention and passion to the Spa.”

Though Baiocchi has travelled far and wide for Four Seasons in one capacity or another, he has always been involved in openings, with hotel and resort addresses that bear his stamp in Asia, Europe and Middle East. “I’ve been lucky or unlucky, depending on how you look at it,” laughs Baiocchi of his history of getting properties off the ground. “Either way, openings are vital to growing your hospitality career. They require bigger vision than established hotels. And once the door is open, you have to keep that vision going to redo things as necessary.”

As an ex-pat living abroad during the 1980s, Baiocchi was drawn to hotels simply because they were the place to meet people. He studied hospitality in the Swiss tradition and was snatched up right after graduation to work the front desk for the 1993 opening of Four Seasons Hotel Milano. “So I’m pure,” he says with a laugh of his one-and-only-employer career. “In this company, they preach promotion from within. I’m ‘exhibit A’ that it works.”

Among many aspects about Istanbul that enthrall Baiocchi is the influence he sees of contemporary art and design on city’s ancient architecture. His own tastes run to contemporary African art, including a collection of 200 works from across the continent that he has pieced together via gallery-hopping trips through Africa and the United States. “There is expression and colour in those works that are truly unique,” he says. “It reminds me a lot of where I am.”

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