Four Seasons Hotel Kuwait at Burj Alshaya
- Al Soor Street, Al Mirqab, PO Box 735, Safat, 13008, Kuwait
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 1994
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Assistant Food and Beverage Manager, Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea
- Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita; Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at The First Residence; Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora; Four Seasons Resort Hualalai; Four Seasons Hotel New York; Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara; Ritz-Carlton Chicago (formerly a Four Seasons Hotel); Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea
- La Ferte Bernard, France
- CFA Food and Beverage Diploma, Chartres, France; Hotel Management Diploma, Lasalle College, Montreal
- French, English, working on Arabic
“Guests will feel at home away from home here,” says Didier Jardin, modestly, of the dynamic hospitality experience he oversees as General Manager of Four Seasons Hotel Kuwait at Burj Alshaya. And quite a home it is. With 284 rooms through 21 floors of the new Burj Alshaya Centre in the heart of Kuwait City’s central business district, the Hotel unfolds as “an incredibly inviting product,” he continues. “The beauty, the vibrant colours, the very stylishness of this Hotel – no one here has seen anything like it.”
Jardin’s enthusiasm rises as he runs through favourite details such as the extraordinary floating spiral staircase sure to draw eyes, footsteps and Instagram portraitists in the lobby; abundant use of limestone on a local hotel scene heavy with gold and marble; striking mashrabiya windows with traditional Arabic latticework overlooking the pool; and fresh takes on Four Seasons anticipatory service that will smooth arrival from the airport and offer personalised luxury shopping at The Avenues Mall.
Then there are the Hotel’s dining offerings, all designed to stand out and draw guests and locals whose hunger for remarkable dining experiences, says Jardin, “is matched only by the sophistication of their palates.” On the penthouse level, pan-Asian Sintoho (named for Singapore, Tokyo and Hong Kong) and the Hotel’s Italian offering, Dai Forni, are laid out with open kitchens, to create theatrical scenes of “noise, smoke, fire and technique” that play off myriad food stations. The buffet-style restaurant Elements is similarly fashioned.
Elsewhere, two beautiful ballrooms are strong draws for the booming local weddings and social events market. Just past the spa and fitness centre lies the Hotel’s oasis-like outdoor swimming pool. “There are trees and greenery everywhere. It’s a perfect a spot for guests to completely relax,” says Jardin, noting air-conditioned cabanas and fresh juices from a floating restaurant among enticements to be enjoyed on the deck.
Jardin chose Kuwait City over other possibilities for his first turn as General Manager because of his personal passion for the project and the destination. “So many Kuwaiti have stayed with us elsewhere. Now they have a Four Seasons at home that is like no other in the world,” he says. “This is not only one of the most amazing Four Seasons out there, but it’s a landmark in Kuwait City.”
Jardin took a long route to his current role. Raised on his family’s farm in a small town in northern France, he began rising before the sun as a seven-year-old to milk the cows. “I never travelled or vacationed as a kid because my parents were always working,” he recalls, adding without a hint of hyperbole: “24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”
No surprise, then, that when he finished school Jardin set his sights elsewhere. Inspired by his older brothers – one a baker, the other a chef – he took a summer job as dishwasher at a hotel in the Pyrenees at age 15 and, after deciding his future lay in food and beverage, returned home and to school to become a waiter.
Jardin’s talent at the table took him to Paris before compulsory military service took him far and wide. Following his discharge from the French Navy, he took work first in England to hone his English, then at a Relais & Chateaux in Bermuda, where he worked as a server, met his future wife, and realised he had ambitions beyond waiting tables.
“She was an American living in Montreal, so we went there so I could study hotel management,” he remembers. After Jardin obtained his green card for residency in the US, the couple looked at a map. Hawaii looked appealing. “I applied everywhere in the islands, and got offers from a Mexican restaurant on the beach and Four Seasons. Looking back, I made the right choice.”
Quite a choice. Over more than two decades with Four Seasons, Jardin has served at nine properties. Most of his experience was in food and beverage until he received a “crash course” in rooms as opening Resort Manager of Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora. “That was very challenging, my biggest learning curve to date,” he says of his “sink-or-swim” role at the island resort. “The most important part of that experience for me was about leadership. You don’t have to be an expert to run a new division, but you do have to be an expert at managing people and learning from them.”
Jardin further honed his management skills in leadership positions at three Four Seasons properties before arriving in Kuwait. Now, he likes to think of the diverse team he has compiled as “a big family” and to lead it by “the four Fs”: “I am firm, fair and flexible in dealing with people. But most important, I strive to have fun. There is no better motivator for me – or for anyone – than a positive working environment.”
Now settled in Kuwait, Jardin enjoys spending downtime with his family and loves winter camping in the desert – double fun with his twin daughters along for the adventure. “We have moved around a lot over the course of my career and we are a close family because of it,” he says. “We’re always excited about new experiences and spending time together in new places.”