Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane
- Hamilton Place, Park Lane, London, W1J 7DR, England
Regional Vice President and General Manager
“I couldn’t be more proud to be part of the role this landmark Hotel has played in the evolution of our company’s history. ”
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 1982
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Resident Manager, Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco
- Four Seasons Resort Nevis; Four Seasons Hotel Newport Beach; Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco; Hyatt Hotels; Cotton House, Mustique
- Hillsboro, Oregon, USA
- Hospitality Degree with honours, École Hôtelière Lausanne
- English, French
While even the best hotels need to be reconsidered now and again, the best hotel managers only seem to get better. Take John Stauss, regional vice president and general manager of Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane, who recently concluded a six-year-long “passionate project” to transform the longest-serving Four Seasons property into its newest.
It all began with a phone call from Isadore Sharp, founder and chairman of Four Seasons, asking Stauss to prep a plan to update the 40-year-old flagship. “I told him, ‘You’re asking a lot of time and effort for something that probably won’t get built,’” Stauss recalls, noting that shuttering a successful hotel is an expensive undertaking, whatever the end result. “He encouraged me to do it anyway.”
Good call. As only the third GM in the Hotel’s history, Stauss knows the property and its Hyde Park location intimately. He also knows Four Seasons, having joined the company in San Francisco in 1982 and overseen openings in Newport Beach and Nevis. Along the way he has earned Hotelier of the Year UK, the Best of the Best Hotelier for Virtuoso, and seen the London property named among the Best Places to Work in the UK. “Ensuring the guest experience has always been the most enjoyable part of my job,” he says, reflecting Four Seasons’ principle that taking care of employees takes care of guests.
Working with an architect, a designer and a town planner, Stauss began fashioning a model for a new generation of Four Seasons hotels. “We wanted to bring in the Park and shower interiors with light to create something uniquely Four Seasons that stands out in London’s competitive set.”
To those ends, the team envisioned a rooftop spa with glass walls and skylight; a private garden – unusual for the heart of the city; a transformation of north-facing suites into conservatories; a ground-floor restaurant in a conservatory of its own; and the most modern guest room and energy-saving technologies. “I also thought we needed a fireplace in the lobby to create a warm welcome for guests,” Stauss recalls with a delighted laugh. “In the end, the designer placed 32 fireplaces throughout the Hotel.”
Stauss was groomed for such work from the start of his career. Captivated by the movie Hotel as a teenager, he was educated at Switzerland’s leading hotel school and embarked on an international career highlighted by hotel openings. “Being a visionary and mobilising a hotel requires a very different energy from running one. From my very first opening, I said I’d never do it again. So much for that…”
Vision aside, the London transformation necessitated concrete considerations for employees and guests while the Hotel was closed. For the former, Stauss’s “noble goals” assisted in a 90% outplacement of employees. For the latter, he went so far as to lead tours of competing hotels to assure the most devoted guests would be well kept through the closing. “Over the years, a number of loyal guests have asked us to redo the Hotel with a modern edge. I wanted them to be happy while it was happening.”
Stauss is quick to emphasise that the new London hotel is not his own, but a creative application of the Four Seasons experience of which he has long been a part. Still, there’s no denying the plan he put together with the design team hit the mark. “We sent it up the ladder, and it came down the same,” he says, adding, “Each hotel Four Seasons opens is better than the one before it.” In other words: welcome to the best Four Seasons yet.