Four Seasons Hotel Beijing
- 48 LiangMaQiao Road, 100125 Beijing, Chaoyang District, China
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 1999
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Receptionist, Four Seasons Hotel Berlin (formerly a Four Seasons hotel)
- Four Seasons Hotel Jakarta; Four Seasons Hotel Pudong, Shanghai; Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong; Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa; The Regent Singapore, A Four Seasons Hotel; Four Seasons Hotel Shanghai; Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco; Four Seasons Hotel Berlin (formerly a Four Seasons hotel); InterContinental Hotel Dallas; The Kempinski Bristol Hotel, Berlin; Palace Hotel Berlin
- Berlin, Germany
- Apprenticeship, Palace Hotel Berlin; Bachelor’s Degree, Emil-Fischer Schule, Oberstunfenzentrum, Berlin; courses in Hotel Management, Cornell University
- German, English, basic Mandarin
"I was always fascinated with hotels," says Christian Poda, General Manager of Four Seasons Hotel Beijing, recalling the initial inkling that he might be suited for a career in the industry. Hospitality runs in Poda's family – grandmother, mother, father, "everybody at one point or another worked in hotels or restaurants." Meanwhile, growing up in Berlin back in the 1980s, Poda regularly strode past one of the grandest properties in the then-divided city, The Kempinski Bristol Hotel. "I liked the buzz, the sense of people from all over the world, and especially the elegance of hospitality. When it’s time for me to choose a path, I thought, 'Let me try this. It seems like a fun job.'"
Beijing has long been on Poda’s wish list of destinations, with its fascinating culture, vibrant art scene and perfect blend of East meets West, and his deep admiration for the country and its culture only grew following two prior Four Seasons postings in Shanghai in 2007 and 2013.
Taking the helm of such a well established hotel in the country’s capital is as much a dream as a challenge but Poda has one key attribute on his side: the Beijingers. “I so admire the tenacity, exemplary work ethics, and positive attitude of the Chinese,” he enthuses. “Beijing has developed into a global world city that is sophisticated, modern yet still rich with history... I look forward to working with the team and our supportive owners to bring the hotel to new heights, evolving in line with the dynamic city around it”.
Poda got his start with Four Seasons in his hometown. "I remember going into this really elegant small hotel and seeing the intricate attention to detail, elaborate floral arrangements, and everyone smiling like they were truly happy to work there," he says of his first impression of the former Four Seasons Hotel Berlin. "People behaved very differently. They called each other by their first names. It was totally different from a traditional European hotel."
With a goal “from day one” of becoming a General Manager, Poda was drawn to the rooms side of hotel work, starting with reception. "I always loved cooking. At one point, I almost added another year to my education to become a chef. But the interaction of welcoming guests really resonated with me most." In the end, he concludes diplomatically, "rather than identify myself with rooms or food and beverage, I simply call myself an 'hotelier.'"
Beijing is Poda's latest stop in Asia for Four Seasons, the conclusion of a journey that has taken him from Europe to the US and then onto Shanghai (twice), Singapore, Hong Kong, Maldives and Jakarta. "I was always fascinated by Asia – it was an attraction and curiosity I can’t explain. I really wanted to be here, and next you know, a decade goes by.”
Among the many reasons Poda is pleased to have spent the bulk of his Four Seasons career in the East is "the people component." In Europe, one learns about traditional hotel operations, and the US is second to none at driving business and profits, he says. “Here it's the people, their exceptional service levels, and their can-do attitude."
“The job of the hotelier,” he believes, "is to create a great workplace for great people to deliver great experiences to the guest. The way your employees feel is the way your customers feel. When employees feel valued, so do the guests. This is what we will strive to achieve at Four Seasons Hotel Beijing.”