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Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown

  • 27 Barclay Street, New York, New York, 10007, U.S.A.
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Mark Schwindenhammer

Director of Catering and Conference Services
“The combination of opening a new Four Seasons hotel in a neighbourhood experiencing such a rebirth has created a place that people want to be. There is really no other hotel in this area offering the level of service we do.”

 

Four Seasons Tenure

  • Originally hired 1993, now since 2016
  • First Four Seasons Assignment: Coffee Break Attendant, Four Seasons Hotel Boston

Employment History

  • Park Hyatt New York; Mandarin Oriental, Miami; Mandarin Oriental, Boston; Space Other LLC, Boston; Boston Harbor Hotel; Four Seasons Hotel Boston

Birthplace

  • Sterling, Illinois, USA

Education

  • Bachelor’s Degree, Interior Design, Harrington College of Design, Chicago

Languages

  • English

What’s a great way to experience the first five-star hotel in one of the hottest neighbourhoods in Manhattan? Throw a party, plan a wedding, celebrate a bar mitzvah, or even organise a corporate event. Assuring such engagements unfold in keeping with Four Seasons highest standards and without a hitch is what keeps Mark Schwindenhammer busy as Director of Catering and Conference Services of Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown. And busy he is. “We experienced a big volume of interest right from the start,” he recalls of the Hotel’s September 2016 opening. “The combination of opening a new Four Seasons hotel in a neighbourhood experiencing such a rebirth has created a place that people want to be. There is really no other hotel in this area offering the level of service we do.”

Particularly appealing for corporate and social clientele, Schwindenhammer continues, is the “forward design” of the Hotel’s meeting and event spaces: from the understated modern stylishness of meeting rooms named for neighbouring streets, to the open, airy ambiance of the Greenwich Ballroom with its custom-designed lighting system inspired by mid-century modern design. Meanwhile, the Hotel’s sculptural grand staircase leading from the lobby to the second floor offers a captivating backdrop for wedding photos, as do various city views – the landmark St. Peter’s Church, the sparkling new Santiago Calatrava Oculus Transit Hub at the World Trade Center. “Four Seasons has a well-deserved reputation for grand design, but our event spaces are steeped in motifs that are more forward-thinking,” he observes. “That’s very appealing to contemporary clientele.”

On top of the above, Schwindenhammer notes the benefits of an Executive Chef totally dedicated to the Hotel’s catering operation, and of food and drinks menus dotted with local ingredients, including spirits distilled just over in Brooklyn. “We’re not pitching our menus as ‘farm-to-table,’ which I think is a bit overplayed, but as part of the authentic experience of the region,” he says. “Local ingredients give clients a certain confidence: they know what they get is going to be of the highest quality.”

Group clientele can also rest assured that the hotel’s Catering and Conference Services team is peopled with talent who not only excel at what they do, but do it with the renowned “feel and attitude” of Four Seasons. Staffing his department was a challenge and the interview process was rigorous, says Schwindenhammer, but it all paid off. “We looked as much at people’s innate kindness and propensity for our unique way of doing things as we did their functional competency. Four Seasons is very distinctive in that way.”

Schwindenhammer’s current role is his second with the company. After earning a degree in interior design, he worked with a design firm in Chicago but became frustrated when projects were seldom seen in their entirety before being handed over to clients. After relocating east, he joined Four Seasons in Boston, starting off in 1993 as a coffee break attendant and working his way to Assistant Banquet Manager over six years. He had eyes on leading the Hotel’s catering operation and would’ve stayed on but there were no openings. “That’s one of the interesting things about Four Seasons: people don’t leave,” he says. “It speaks well of the company.”

After replacing a friend in the position he was after at another Boston hotel, Schwindenhammer moved on to open Space Other, a contemporary art gallery located in Boston’s chic Harrison Avenue Arts District that featured works of emerging artists from Latin America and Europe as well as space for events. “It was kind of novel at the time,” he says. “I was always at the mercy of whatever art installation was being exhibited, so I learned a lot about getting the most from a space that was constantly changing.”

The gallery was “successful until it wasn’t,” Schwindenhammer says. Forced to close the gallery during the recession of 2008, he returned to hotel catering at top-flight properties in Boston, Miami and Midtown Manhattan.

Now back with Four Seasons again, Schwindenhammer plans to stick around and is happy to be working way downtown – an easy commute from the residence he shares with his partner, Justin, in Williamsburg, the hottest neighbourhood on the other side of the East River. “I have two rambunctious Italian greyhounds and they just love to play,” he says. “New York is different from other cities: there is so much business and the rivalries are real. Sometimes you have to adjust your expectations, but I know what can be accomplished here.”