Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi at Al Maryah Island
- P.O. Box 107032 Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Senior Spa Director
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 2010
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Spa Manager, Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris
- Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris; Hotel Les Ottomans, Istanbul; Caudalie; Hotel du Palais, Biarritz, France; Hotel Métropole, Monte Carlo
- Paris, France
- Masters of Tourism and Hotel Management, Bachelors Degree in Applied Foreign Languages, specialty Economics, Université Nice Sophia Antipolis
- French, English, Spanish
“My goal is to perfect the entire guest experience from end to end,” says Christelle Besnier of her high-touch role in shaping Dahlia Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi at Al Maryah Island. As opening Spa Director, Besnier took the lead in everything from drafting policies and procedures to securing beauty brands, and recruiting and training therapists. “I sourced everything from tea pots to cosmetics to linens,” she recalls with a laugh. “A project like this takes time. But when it comes alive, it’s very rewarding to see the results.”
Spread over two levels, Dahlia Spa’s celebrated design blends both modern and locally inspired elements. There are eight luxurious spa suites, including one just for couples; Zen-like rooms for relaxation before and after treatments; and an innovative quartz sand table massage bed that utilises the ancient Greek concept of “psammotherapy” to promote relaxation and healing. Guests can also relax in the spa’s therapeutic facilities including vitality pool, hammam, sauna and heated loungers. The wellness experience continues at Dahlia Spa’s fitness centre, offering dedicated men’s and women’s gym facilities.
In keeping with the goals of Four Seasons in the UAE’s capital, Dahlia Spa is particularly inviting for the local market. “We’re offering genuine service with smiles, greetings and humbleness that makes every effort to please. Our clients really like this,” says Besnier.
Mindful of market trends she chose Sodashi, a luxurious holistic chemical free brand from Perth, Australia and Swiss Perfection, a more clinical anti-ageing offering from Montreux, which are both are exclusively available at Dahlia Spa. Their exclusive treatments are supplemented quarterly with new offerings from different lines.
Demonstrating the desire for innovation, Dahlia Spa reinvents the hammam experience with Moroccan brand marocMaroc, having been introduced in early 2017. This was followed by another exclusive brand from Paris in Biologique Recherche. This latest addition enhances Dahlia Spa’s facial offering, with results driven treatments. The transformative experience combined with the Remodeling Face device is a must for either men or ladies.
Spas weren’t even on Besnier’s radar when she got interested in tourism after school and joined a specialised tourism agency in Cannes. The Hotel Métropole, Monte Carlo was among the firm’s clients. “I sat in during a presentation and just fell in love with that hotel and its project of total renovation,” she remembers. From that moment, it was her desire to switch from the agency to the client side, and after applying was appointed to the hotel’s commercial department and soon advanced to become personal assistant to the General Manager. When the hotel launched a new spa with ESPA, Besnier worked on the pre-opening. It wasn’t long before she realised: “This is for me.”
After climbing the leadership ladder at various properties, Besnier’s passion led her to Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris, where she rose from Spa Manager to Spa and Retail Director over a six-year run. She recalls it as the “golden age” for one of the company’s most-celebrated spas, and great preparation for her to take on an opening role as Spa Director and put her own signature on Dahlia Spa.
Now content in Abu Dhabi, Besnier looks at her role at Dahlia Spa as driving a small business within a larger brand, bringing her expertise of beauty and wellness experiences. Any day might see her engaged in everything from cleaning and purchasing to welcoming guests and training the team. She also manages the Hotel’s Kids For All Seasons program. “I am super busy all the time, but I love supporting my team and greeting our guests,” she says. “The spa is a perfect place for me because the duties change all the time, I am managing a company within a company. I’m very passionate about it, and I can’t do anything without passion.”
This passion lead to be promoted to Senior Spa Director for the Middle East and Africa region, overlooking six others spas across Egypt, Kuwait and Tunisia. With this more global role Besnier utilises her expertise in guiding her portfolio towards greater success and alignment to the company’s wellness goals.
At the end of each day, Besnier promptly switches out of spa mode into mother for her twin daughters. “My job is such a part of me, but they are my therapy,” she says.