Four Seasons Tenure
- First hired 2007; now since 2015
- First Four Seasons assignment: Resort Manager, Four Seasons Resort Provence at Terre Blanche (formerly a Four Seasons hotel)
- Hotel de Russie Rocco, Forte Hotels; Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon; Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris; Four Seasons Resort Provence at Terre Blanche (formerly a Four Seasons hotel); One & Only Maldives at Reethi Rah; One & Only Le Saint Géran, Mauritius; Halkin Hotel, London; Ristorante Gualtiero Marchesi, Milan; Tantris, Munich; La Cote Saint Jacques, Joigny; Le Metro Lorraine, Joigny
- Milan, Italy
- Technical Degree, State Hotel School, Milan
- English, Italian, French, German
“This is one of my dreams come true,” says Mauro Governato of taking the helm as General Manager at Four Seasons Hotel Milano. Doubtless, he is not the first hotel professional at the top of the management ladder to say something like that, but in Governato’s case it really was a dream. And it really did come true.
Born and raised in Italy’s “Design Capital,” Governato had long admired his Four Seasons local address. He spent seven years with the company before departing for another international hotel group in early 2014. When the plum position in Milan opened up later in the year, it was important to find someone with Four Seasons experience, an understanding and appreciation of the company’s values, as well as extended experience in the hotel business and travel that matched those of guests. “I was an outsider at the time, managing a five-star hotel in Rome,” recalls Governato. “Suddenly I was in the running.”
What was it about his talent that appealed to the Hotel owners in Milan? Governato is coy, but notes: “I have always had a concept of running a hotel as if it was my own. I always ask myself, if this were my hotel, would I spend money to do certain things? Would I behave this way to staff? Would I hire someone new, or could I develop someone from the inside whose heart in the right place into a fantastic leader?”
Governato’s mission in Milan is to assure that the Hotel stays at the top of its competitive set in an increasingly crowded field. Crucial to that, he says, is differentiating the Hotel from the competition through elements of service and improving the physical property as well as the guest experience to keep things fresh. For instance, using the Hotel’s fragrant garden as an event venue; adding unexpected elements to banquet service and catering; creating a richer brunch experience with musicians or even magicians; and on and on.
Governato’s Four Seasons career began as Resort Manager in the south of France. After promotion to GM, he led the George V in Paris and then was offered the opportunity to head the company’s Lisbon address. He looks back on his time in Portugal fondly – “the potential of the city was tremendous, and I’m very proud of the energy we were able to infuse around the hotel” – but he only stayed a year in the capital city, as personal issues required his return to Italy and employment in Rome.
“I enjoyed Rome and the hotel I was managing as well, but in the end the attraction to Milan and my dream was too strong,” he says, wistfully. “At this point in my career, there is no other property I would lead in the world except this one.”
Italian, multilingual, and by his own admission a bit of a dreamer, Governato was a good fit for the hotel industry. Growing up in Milan, he always wanted to be a world traveller, though he had no idea how he was going to do it and survive. Then a friend encouraged him to try his hand at a restaurant, and it clicked that hospitality held the possibility of meeting people who might change his life. “I’ve always seen work that way,” he says.
Governato is particularly keen on guest experience. He says he can tell by body language the state that guests are in when they arrive, and he feels strongly about anticipating their needs – even if it means asking them point black what might work to ameliorate whatever issues they have. “Being Italian, I believe in direct action.”
He also believes in boosting the talent of the next generation of hoteliers. While in Lisbon and again in Rome, Governato was tapped to share his experiences and expertise with students at local universities “to give them insider knowledge of hotels and leave them with some examples of the business that can change their lives.” He notes, in particular, the lessons he has passed along to architecture students. “Most of the time, architects consider aesthetics and how hotels look to guests. But luxury service should happen without guests knowing where it comes from,” he says.
That’s a lesson that’ll work well anywhere in the world.