Four Seasons Resort and Residences Napa Valley
- 400 Silverado Trail, Calistoga, California, 94515, U.S.A.
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 1988
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Director of Food and Beverage, Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills
- Four Seasons Hotel New York; Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills; Four Seasons Hotel Newport Beach (formerly a Four Seasons hotel); Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills; Hyatt Hotels North America
- Tehran, Iran
- Studied English at Georgetown University, Washington DC; Bachelors Degree in Business Management and Marketing, University of Louisville, Kentucky
- English, Farsi
Unique things tend to come and go, eventually made commonplace by progress or mimicry. But not the thing that Mehdi Eftekari oversees as General Manager of Four Seasons Resort and Residences Napa Valley. “The experience here is really one of kind,” he says of the Calistoga, California property. “As a company, we have all sorts of resorts. But this is the first time we have one on a vineyard. I don’t know if there will ever be an opportunity to create another Four Seasons like this in America.”
The highlight of the Resort is its winery, with a fully operational, organically hand-farmed 5.6-acre (2.3-hectare) vineyard planted with cabernet sauvignon and protected by the Palisades Mountains and rolling, oak-covered hills. There’s a dedicated tasting room for guests to sample and purchase, with picnic tables to enjoy gourmet bites. There is also a sleek subterranean barrel room that doubles as a setting for private dining events and wine-related activities including hands-on winemaking classes. Notes Eftekari: “The grape-to-glass experience is part of every day here.”
The Resort is fortunate to work with world-class winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown, who operates the winery and tasting room. Brown’s genius has been widely recognised, with his various cabernet sauvignon projects earning 23 perfect 100-point scores from reliably picky wine columnist Robert Parker Jr. over the past decade.
Eftekari has plenty else to mind at the year-round Resort, and he brings more than three decades of Four Seasons experience to the task. There are 85 guest rooms in villas as well as 20 private residences; a spa with 8 treatment rooms and a fitness centre with a terrace; and a pair of outdoor swimming pools. Function space includes two event lawns and an event barn styled for banqueting – perfect for weddings and receptions.
And what would Napa Valley be without pleasure for the palate? A nifty “general store” attached to the winery is a magnet for guests and passing travellers. Meanwhile, the Resort’s signature farm-to-table dining experience celebrates local ingredients and legendary California cuisine topped off with impeccable Four Seasons service and exceptional views.
“We’re bringing a huge complement to a region that we haven’t previously been a part of and offering something new,” explains Eftekari. “With Four Seasons notoriety and access to known winemakers, this is something that guests can’t experience anywhere else.”
Eftekari joined the Resort at the construction stage – “Kind of like the birth of a new baby!” – and set about putting together a team with a range of backgrounds and experience. He gives them the same focus. “The setting here is unusual; it’s not like we’re staffing a metropolitan hotel. I’m very attentive to helping our people embrace their roles and take ownership of the property.”
Born and raised in Tehran, Eftekari arrived in the US to study English and went on to earn a degree in business management and marketing. While seeking an opening in corporate management, he landed a spot as assistant restaurant manager at a hotel in Louisville, Kentucky and realised that he had a future in the industry.
In 1988, Eftekari was hired as Food and Beverage Director at the new Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills. He moved on to become first Hotel Manager, and then General Manager of the company’s former address in Newport Beach.
In 2004, he returned to run the show in Beverly Hills – and quite a show it turned out to be with the Hotel team earning two Five-Star ratings from Forbes Travel Guide during Eftekari’s tenure. He moved on to become GM of Four Seasons Hotel New York in 2015, guiding the flagship property through a renovation of all guest rooms and suites while maintaining its long-running Forbes Five-Star rating, which is no easy feat.
Taken together, the period saw Eftekari focused first on Hollywood business clientele, then on the diplomatic community through the United Nations. And now? Perhaps the country’s premier food and wine destination. “I’ve always looked for great and unique opportunities,” he says. “When I saw this project on the map, I jumped on it.”
It didn’t take long for Eftekari to get into the local groove and enjoy all the trimmings of Napa Valley. He’s an avid indoor spin cyclist, “but now I’m going outdoors, riding the trails around us and reconnecting with nature.” He is also reconnecting with people he met during his time in LA or on travels to Northern California over the years.
“I’m a long way from New York now,” he says with a laugh, noting that Calistoga has a single street, one stoplight, two stop signs, and a totally different mindset. Not that it matters. “Four Seasons is so great about embracing local culture. It would be a big mistake for us to come in here and act like we’re on our own. We’re part of the local community – that’s one of our biggest strengths.”