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
When Senior Spa Director Christelle Besnier began her UAE journey at Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi at Al Maryah Island in 2017, little did she know that her passion project would set the standard across Abu Dhabi and Dubai for wellness. “My goal was and always is to perfect the entire guest experience from end to end. It has been a remarkable journey to create a bespoke experience for these iconic properties.” As Abu Dhabi's opening 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. "Projects like these take time. But when they come alive, it is very rewarding to see the results.”
In her current role as Senior Director of Spa EMEA, Besnier oversees six other spas for the Middle East and Africa region. With firm roots in the Four Seasons United Arab Emirates Collection, she feels she is able to express herself and the spectrum of wellness through the country's three properties. Through Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach and Four Seasons Hotel DIFC she embraces high-flying luxury and cosmopolitan energies with a blend of products and treatments tailored to the requirements of the urban resort and city hotel. Perched on buzzing Al Maryah Island, Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi blends the best of both worlds with its proximity to the city of Abu Dhabi while still being rooted at the edge of the Arabian Gulf.
Besnier's philosophy in "The Land of the Gazelle" celebrates Abu Dhabi's tradition of Arabian hospitality through a combination of authentic rituals using centuries-old techniques, results-driven products utilising ingredients from the Arabian Peninsula, and bespoke wellness provided from skilled international therapists. However, for the Senior Spa Director, the most important part of her philosophy was creating an inviting urban sanctuary for the local community. "We’re offering genuine service with smiles, greetings and humility that makes every effort to please. Our clients really like this,” says Besnier.
Spread over two levels, The Pearl Spa and Wellness Abu Dhabi'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 The Pearl Spa and Wellness Abu Dhabi's fitness centre, offering dedicated men’s and women’s gym facilities.
Demonstrating the desire for innovation, Besnier has selected an array of exclusive product lines to provide everything from traditional Arabian therapies to cutting-edge products with a strong emphasis on clinical results. Mindful of creating this diverse array of experiences, she curated key product lines such as the ultra-luxe holistic brand Sodashi hailing from Perth, Australia. Those searching for the height of luxury will only receive the best from renowned Biologique Recherche – offering visible results from its line of facials. Innovation also has a strong place in Besnier's philosophy with low touch therapies from Hypervolt or deep tension relief from Bellabaci's combination of cupping therapy mixed with aromatherapy.
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 a role as in Abu Dhabi and put her own signature on the property's wellness experience.
Her passion lead to a promotion to Senior Spa Director for the Middle East and Africa region, overlooking six other 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.
Now content in the Emirates, Besnier looks at her role at The Pearl Spa and Wellness United Arab Emirates Collection, 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. “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 tim;, I am managing a company within a company. I’m very passionate about it, and I can’t do anything without passion.”
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.