Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest
- Széchenyi István tér 5-6., 1051 Budapest, Hungary
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 1985
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Assistant Maitre d’Hotel, La Reserve, Inn on the Park Houston (formerly a Four Seasons Hotel)
- Four Seasons Hotel Buenos Aires and Four Seasons Resort Carmelo, Uruguay; Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris; Four Seasons Hotel Sydney; Four Seasons Hotel Buenos Aires; Four Seasons Resort Carmelo, Uruguay; Four Seasons Hotel Caracas (formerly a Four Seasons Hotel); Four Seasons Hotel México, D.F.; Four Seasons Hotel Houston; Le Quatre Saisons Montréal (formerly a Four Seasons hotel); Inn on the Park Houston (formerly a Four Seasons Hotel)
- Paris, France
- Master of Law, University of Paris, France; Hospitality Management, Institut de Management Hôtelier International (Cornell-ESSEC), Paris, France
- French, English, Spanish
Passions come and passions go, so the trick is to keep things percolating. For now, Yves Giacometti is into Budapest. “This is a city that needs to be discovered,” says the General Manager of Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest, who arrived in “the Paris of Eastern Europe” in late 2010 and plunged into local culture with the aid of erudite guides, an all-Hungarian concierge staff and random encounters. “When it comes to getting a feel for a new city, I’m very selfish. I try to get everything I can from interactions with locals. The quicker I adapt to their world, the better.”
With six cities on four continents on his Four Seasons résumé, Giacometti knows how to go about fitting in. He embraced local culture with a passion while doing double duty as GM of Four Seasons properties in Buenos Aires and Carmelo, learning to tango and enrolling in flight school in hopes of cutting travel time between the two hotels. “I could dance,” he reports of the former, though he “never quite got there” on the latter.
For Giacometti, Budapest was a bit of a culture shock – especially the Hotel. An Art Nouveau landmark of sweeping staircases, stained glass, mosaics, ironwork and soaring gardens, it was designed by a local architect in 1904 to house an insurance company and was eventually turned into government offices before being immaculately renovated by Four Seasons in 2004. It serves more leisure travellers than business travellers. “Today it is really a little architectural museum, so different from the two hotels I left behind.”
Raised in Paris and well traveled from an early age, Giacometti earned a master’s degree in law before studying at hotel school in Paris. Upon graduation he was courted by many major hotel groups and chose Four Seasons because of its message. “Back in 1985, the company was almost totally unknown, but the way it transmitted its desire for excellence and quality was very exciting to me.” Soon he was off to Houston, the first of eight posts.
Giacometti took the reins in Buenos Aires and Carmelo in 2003 after re-flagging the properties as transitional GM two years earlier. The conversions needed to be handled delicately during tough economic times. “We had to transmit who we are as a company, and that can be scary for existing employees,” he recalls. “The role I played was to let them know that they were good at what they did, that their jobs were secure, and that Four Seasons was a plus.”
The challenges of the recent economic downturn saw Giacometti reviewing processes and systems to increase productivity and maintain the Four Seasons experience even as he had to tighten staff. He walked into the same environment in Budapest, he says, and was pleased with what he found: “People understand that we have to work differently as the situation demands. If we can’t, we’ll be out of the race.”
Having thrown himself into local culture at his previous address, Giacometti was happy to find a strong passion for music in Budapest. “If I can find a tango school, I’ll continue, but I don’t know about traditional Hungarian folk dance,” he laughs. “It took me three years to work up the nerve to take tango lessons in Argentina, so we’ll see…”