Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo
- Peninsula Papagayo, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 2008
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Hotel Manager, Four Seasons Hotel New York
- Four Seasons Hotel New York; InterContinental Toronto Yorkville; InterContinental Chicago; InterContinental Buckhead, Atlanta; Willard InterContinental Hotel, Washington, DC; InterContinental Amsterdam; InterContinental London; InterContinental Luxembourg
- Esch, Luxembourg
- Hotel Management, Lycee Technique Hotelier Alexis Heck; Hotel Management, CERIA-IPIAT, Brussels, Belgium
- Luxembourgish, English, German, French, Dutch, working on Spanish
Out of the frying pan, into the tropics. After three years at just one rung from the top in New York, Pascal Forotti arrived in Central America in spring 2011 as General Manager of Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo. It didn’t take long for him to get used to the change. “My first six months were a fascinating time,” he recalls, dreamily. “It’s really lush. It’s really green. The people have been very nice. And just hearing the waves crash everyday – so different from fire trucks and taxi cabs.”
The first few months of Forotti’s tenure saw the installation of the new El Armadillo event pavilion to better encourage group and corporate clientele. Jet Blue also launched direct service from JFK to Liberia, Costa Rica, further easing an already convenient route from the States. No less than 93 percent of the Resort’s business comes from North America, with guests from New York, Texas and California accounting for the bulk of arrivals. “We get a flood of New Yorkers during the holidays, and everybody else the rest of the year.”
Forotti certainly knows a bit about catering to New Yorkers. As Hotel Manager at Four Seasons Hotel New York, he oversaw measures to keep the East 57th Street address humming along during the crash of ’08, a challenging time for luxury travel. “We never cut Four Seasons standards, and that was key.”
That thinking can be particularly significant at a resort property like Costa Rica, where guests typically book for a week and take quick notice of changes. As Forotti sees it, the trick to keeping guests happy at time uncertainty isn’t lowering rates but adding value. So Resort guests can look forward to cost-saving credits for the spa, golf, breakfast and other amenities. “More than anything, people want a good experience. If you deliver, they’ll want to come back whatever the rates.”
Having spent his entire career before Costa Rica at city hotels, it didn’t take long for Forotti to notice how resort guests transform themselves during their stay. “You see a guest arrive clean-shaven in a blazer, and two days later they’re relaxed and strolling around in flip-flops with a 48-hour shadow,” he says with a laugh.
Four Seasons is only Forotti’s second employer. Luxembourgian by birth, he was hired out of hotel school by an international hotel outfit that kept him busy for 17 years on both sides of the Atlantic. “The only reason I left was for the opportunity to join Four Seasons. I felt their view of hospitality was what the industry should be about.” He is particularly enamored of the company’s talent for tracking guest preferences. “I’ll see someone at cocktail hour and ask how they enjoyed the zip line. They’re pleased as they wonder, ‘How did he know that?’”
He is also quite taken with the passion behind Growing Together, a program providing guests and incentive groups opportunities to spread good will and good works in the region the Resort calls home. There were more volunteers in the first eight months of 2011 than in all of 2010, Forotti reports. “We have 19 ambassadors who volunteer to take guests and corporations out to meet local families on their own time. I think it’s great; they’re so proud to be Costa Rican.” Apparently, for the moment, Forotti is, too.