Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 2005
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Spa Therapist, Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo
- Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo; Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus; Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita; Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo
- San Jose, Costa Rica
- Bachelor’s Degree, Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation, Universidad Santa Paula, Costa Rica; Reiki Master, Certified Esthetician, Boreal Estética, Costa Rica
- Spanish, English, basic Turkish
“My favourite thing is how guests are completely transformed,” says Viviana Quesada, rhapsodising on the experience she leads as Spa Director at Four Seasons Hotel Toronto. “I see it all the time. After their services, they’re entirely relaxed, renewed and smiling.”
Appointed in 2019, Quesada arrived in Toronto to a smooth-running Spa of newly revitalised design, with 16 treatment rooms and a menu of signature treatments highlighting the latest spa and wellness trends – and more. “It’s a very well run operation,” she says, “and now we can only do better.” And how’s that? “By challenging ourselves to improve on the guest experience and by always enhancing what we offer.”
Four Seasons high service standards are only the beginning, she continues. “The company always encourages creativity. As in anything, it’s good to change things. The way I present it to our team is that our standards are the start; now let’s go above and beyond.”
Quesada believes strongly in the benefits of training, without which “creativity is impossible.” When she introduces a new product to retail or adds a new treatment to the Spa menu, she wants the team to embrace them and she invites producers in for demonstrations to speed the process. “I’ve always felt that if you understand and believe in something, what you do with it will be organic. It could be the way you fold towels or how you promote a new product: Knowledge is always key.”
So, too, are business smarts. Spas have long since transformed from mere amenities to being integral to the luxury hotel experience. That puts a lot of responsibility on Spa Directors, but it also gives them power to suggest business strategies. “It’s not enough for us to just know about treatments and techniques. We have to know what drives business and look at the costs behind everything we offer.”
Quesada started out as a physical therapist rehabilitating accident victims, which included helping people with brain injuries relearn how to walk. The field fascinated her, she remembers. “It was basically bodywork, but totally different from what I’m doing now.”
Following a year abroad, a cousin suggested that she use her talents in massage. “My initial reaction was, ‘I’m honoured, but I’m not a massage therapist!” She gave it a try, though, and soon got in a groove. “You see immediate results in massage therapy. The rewards are different from rehabilitation, but it’s still very satisfying.”
She later joined the Spa team at Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo in 2005. With the skills and caring she brought from rehabilitation, Quesada was a natural, and management took notice, suggesting her for a new management-training program that Four Seasons was rolling out for spas.
The program was – and remains – very selective: She had to write essays, do interviews and commit to travel. She started in 2007 – “I was part of the first class” – and spent the next year traveling through Asia to learn the finer points of spa management at Four Seasons properties in Maldives, Langkawi, Hong Kong, Thailand, and Bali.
It paid off: Quesada was whisked off to Istanbul to become Spa Director at the Four Seasons property along the Bosphorus. She advanced further in Punta Mita, where she was named Senior Spa Director for the Americas in 2015 before heading back to Costa Rica. Now in Toronto, the role finds her consulting and communicating with Spa Directors at various Spas across the region, offering expertise on unique guest experiences, spa concepts and designs, with travel as the icing on top.
Not that she is in a hurry to leave Toronto, of course. Quesada loves spending time away from the Hotel exploring the city with her family. “There are so many things we could do in Costa Rica that we can’t do here, but that runs both ways,” she says. “We’ll always find something we can enjoy together. Skiing is on the top of my list.”