Four Seasons Hotel Lanai at Koele, A Sensei Retreat
- One Keomoku Highway, PO Box 631380, Lanai City, Hawaii, 96763, USA
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 2018
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Current
- COMO Parrot Cay, Turks and Caicos; St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, Florida; Faena Miami Beach; The Ritz-Carlton South Beach, Florida
- Paris, France
- Bachelor’s Degree, Marketing & International Business, Florida International University; MBA, New York Institute of Technology
- English, Arabic
As Hotel Manager of Four Seasons Hotel Lanai at Koele, A Sensei Retreat, there is no more rewarding aspect of Said Haykal’s role in raising the bar for leisure wellness travel than building relationships with guests. There is, however, an equally important aspect: “Making certain the Hotel team is happy.”
The two are quite similar, even intertwined, he continues. “Just as I’m on for our guests, I have to be on for our people.” Every day, for instance, Haykal can be found in the lobby during the height of arrivals, and walking through the Hotel at mealtime – including the signature Sensei by Nobu restaurant – to physically demonstrate the leadership behind Four Seasons first all-inclusive, fully customisable wellness program. “It’s also a great way to create a connection and build relationships with our guests.”
He does the rounds to every department, too, touching base with managers and making himself available to staff. “Our property’s footprint expands way beyond our actual building. Some team members may not always see various leaders during their shifts. I want them to know that if they need help, I’m here for them.”
Haykal learned the significance of such efforts the hard way, when guests of a former employer routinely left comments noting that they hadn’t seen much of management during their stays. “It may seem like a small detail, but people really like being greeted with ‘good morning’ by those overseeing the property, and knowing there is someone on hand making sure everything goes right. Attentiveness is part of the luxury they pay for.”
Haykal was integral to the pre-opening of the Koele Retreat. He joined the company in 2018 and got right to work at the beachfront Four Seasons Resort Lanai. This allowed him to become acquainted with Four Seasons processes while providing input on guest programming and working with construction teams to ensure that architectural and design details of the new property were on point for enhancing its innovative wellness experience.
He also connected with Sensei, the wellbeing company founded by Larry Ellison and Dr. David Agus that is behind the Hotel’s customisable wellness offerings. The partnership between Four Seasons and Sensei, whose team of Sensei Guides shapes every guest stay, offers an exciting opportunity for Haykal to be part of bringing the concept to life.
“Sensei is debuting something here as well, and together we’re committed to helping guests find their own path to wellbeing. What’s unique here is that each stay is optimised through technology learnings and observations while the guest is onsite. We work hand-in-hand, making sure the Guides have all they need for our guests to become well through three practices – move, nourish and rest.”
Born in Paris, Haykal had no intention of getting into the hotel industry, and his parents were of the same mind – a bit of twist, given that hospitality runs deep in his family. “My grandfather was a hotel owner with 16 properties at one point, and my father has worked for major international hotel groups for decades.” Instead, Haykal studied business, worked in retail and advertising, gave law school a shot, and contemplated a medical career. Nothing stuck. “Finally,” he remembers, “my father said, ‘if you’re not sure what to do, why not try hospitality?’”
He did, starting in the front office of a luxury hotel in South Beach, and then working his way up on the rooms side of operations at 5-star/5-diamond addresses in Bal Harbour. He garnered good experience with wellness offerings along the way, including involvement as executive assistant manager in daily beachfront fitness and meditation programming designed to enhance the lives of team members at a private island resort in the Caribbean.
Whatever the address, it didn’t take long for Haykal to figure out that “luxury hospitality is the only way to go.” How so? “There are many places in the world to travel and our guests have more choices than ever – we know they value the opportunity to create lasting memories during their stays. Being a factor in that is an exciting proposition. I enjoy the drama and intensity that go into creating memorable experiences that bring people back.”
About a decade into his hospitality career at the time of his Four Seasons appointment and now right at home on Lanai, Haykal’s goal is to be sure that the company’s levels of service combine with Sensei’s experience and technology to deliver a wellness experience beyond that of any other a retreat.
“Every day is different and another opportunity to contribute,” he says. “The shift of a hotel manager doesn’t end at an appointed hour. I leave work when I feel good. That’s the best way to end a day.”