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Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues Geneva

  • 33, Quai des Bergues, 1201 Geneva, Switzerland
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Jose Silva

General Manager

“It’s essential to find time each day to be creative.”

Four Seasons Tenure

  • Since 1990, 1997
  • First Four Seasons Assignment: Le Quatre Saisons Montréal

Employment History

  • Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon; Le Westin Mont-Royal Hotel Montréal, Canada; Le Quatre Saisons Montréal, Canada (formerly a Four Seasons hotel); Sheraton Centre Montréal, Canada; Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth, Montréal, Canada; Hilton International Hotel, Montréal, Canad

Birthplace

  • Azores, Portugal

Education

  • Bachelor of Business Administration, HEC Montréal, University of Montréal, Canada; Cooking Proficiency course, Tourism and Hotel Institute of Québec, Canada; Civil Engineering diploma, Ahuntsic College, Montréal, Canada

Languages Spoken

  • French, English and Portuguese

José Silva was eight years old when he moved to Canada from the Azores Islands. By the time he graduated from college in civil engineering, Canada was in the grip of a recession and his summer job in a hotel became his full-time employment. When the recession ended, he was assistant director of catering at the Sheraton Centre Montréal, overseeing 4,000 square metres of banqueting facilities in a hotel with 825 rooms. He was just 23.

Silva’s unusual inauguration into his profession laid the foundation for the career that was to follow. “I am almost obsessed with doing things differently,” he explains. “Hard work isn’t enough. You have to think strategically and act creatively. Accomplishing one meaningful outcome in a day is a lot better than working flat out yet achieving nothing.”

Silva constantly challenges his team to surprise their guests with an innovative approach. “It’s all about getting them to work creatively,” he explains. Like the time a manager of a top football club gave them next to no notice of his visit. “The team had two hours to come up with and execute an idea that would really make him remember us above the rest,” says Silva. One chef baked a cake with the logo of the football team, and another created a label for a bottle of champagne listing all of the manager’s achievements: “Creating memorable experiences is our daily mission and lifts the spirits of everyone involved.”

Geneva’s lakes, mountains and multilingual, international society remind Silva of his hometown of Montreal. They also enable him to offer his two children an upbringing very similar to the one he enjoyed: sailing, windsurfing, golfing and skiing.

For Silva personally, being at the helm of the city’s most iconic establishment is a privilege: “The Hotel dates back to 1834, and I have had the opportunity to reposition it as a Four Seasons. Opportunities like this don’t come along very often in life.”

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