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Four Seasons Hotel Seoul

  • 97, Saemunan-ro, Seoul, Jongno-gu, 03183, Korea
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Lubosh Barta

General Manager
“When you are a hotelier, you are a hotelier, so wherever I go, I explore things. It’s just who I am.”

Four Seasons Tenure

  • Since 2004
  • First Four Seasons Assignment: Food and Beverage Director, Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok

Employment History

  • Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui; Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai; Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok; Grand Hyatt Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Park Hyatt Canberra, Australia; Grand Hyatt Melbourne, Australia; Vue Grand Hotel, Queenscliff, Australia; Grand Elysee Hotel, Hamburg, Germany; Hotel Imperial, Ostrava, Czech Republic

Birthplace

  • Ostrava, Czech Republic

Education

  • Hotel Management School Opava, Czech Republic; Degree in Hotel Operation and Commercial Catering; Certification in Hospitality Management at Cornell University

Languages

  • English, Czech

The name Four Seasons speaks for itself. But, as Lubosh Barta tells it, sometimes it is best to say it softly instead of shout it out loud. “We need to be humble and respectful of Korean hospitality and local brands,” says Barta of his role as opening General Manager of Four Seasons Hotel Seoul. “Koreans have great admiration for their homegrown brands, which have an excellent reputation for luxury and sophistication. I’m excited to be new on the scene as part of the opening of our first hotel in Korea, and to bring Four Seasons service excellence to the vibrant city of Seoul.”

Barta sees the Hotel as a catalyst for a new level of luxury in the Korean capital, designed to serve inbound travellers while enticing the local market to stay and play. For instance, the Hotel’s extensive food and beverage offerings were dreamed up to appeal to international as well as Korean appetites, its Spa draws local memberships with a distinctive urban-resort feel, and glamorous event space is inviting for business and social clientele alike. “We are really geared for city dwellers and Korean visitors to come in, relax and enjoy,” he continues, acknowledging that, as distinct from the West, hotels tend to be social hubs in Korea and Asia beyond.

Barta’s Four Seasons background plays right into that. When he interviewed for his position with the hotel owner in Seoul, his extensive food and beverage and resort experience carried the day. “The challenge for me is to apply my experience and creativity to everyday operations. And that,” he concludes, “is where Four Seasons commitment to service excellence comes in.”

Barta inherited his passion for the job. Born and raised in the Czech Republic while holding dual citizenship in Australia, he is a fourth-generation hotelier. “When I was growing up, our home was all about hotels and restaurants, and I spent many afternoons after school running around the front- and back-of-the-house areas.” So what if his parents always had to work over the holidays? “I loved it.”

He also loved hockey and rose to play professionally in his home country before making the decision to focus on hospitality. “No, I don't have all of my original teeth,” he says with a belly laugh of his career as a goalie, “and I’ve got a broken nose, too.”

Distressed body parts aside, Barta’s time on the ice taught lessons he still utilizes on the hotel floor. “It doesn’t matter if you are in sports or music or whatever - in a group of people, everyone has to come together to meet the same goal.” As on the ice, there are “best days” and “worst days” in hotel work, he says. “But success comes in learning from them and working harder tomorrow.”

Barta has seen success throughout his Four Seasons career, most recently managing Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui in Thailand. Asked to illustrate, he points to positive comments he frequently received from guests applauding “small touches” in the rooms, such as complimentary “gifts of experience” offered at turndown – a fresh coconut milk bath with jasmine flowers for a moment of romance, say, or the history of Thai Spirit Houses with a traditional ceremony for spiritual enlightenment.

Then there were the extraordinary experiences Barta spearheaded in Koh Samui, such as installing a regulation ring for a Muay Thai boxing program led by a local boxer who could offer the opportunity to fight at a professional level, if a guest desired. “At first, everyone was saying, ‘Why would we do that? It’s not 5-star.’ Of course, there was a risk it might not be popular. But it was about offering guests something local and unique that they couldn’t get anywhere else.” Not to mention, priceless photographs to spread across social media. “To me, that was the definition of creativity.”

While Barta has long since left the hockey rink – and, now, the boxing ring – behind, he is excited to experience the cultural and natural wonders of Korea with his wife and three children. And especially - after 10 years in the tropics on previous assignments - the change of the four seasons.