Four Seasons Resort O‘ahu at Ko Olina
- 92-1001 Olani Street, Kapolei - Oahu, Hawaii, 96707, USA
Jason de Vries
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 2006
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Front Services Assistant Manager, Four Seasons Hotel Boston
- Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC; Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills; Four Seasons Hotel Boston; Fairmont Boston; Hilton Milwaukee City Center
- Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
- Bachelor’s Degree International Hospitality Management, Johnson & Wales University, Providence, Rhode Island
New arrivals get relaxed and comfortable in a hurry at Four Season Resort Oahu at Ko Olina. But not Jason de Vries. “I actually came here to get uncomfortable again,” he says of the motivation behind his lateral move to Resort Manager of the Pacific-edge retreat. “I’d just spent five years in senior management at a city property, so it was time to shake myself out of that zone and figure out how to lead here in a resort setting.”
And how’s that? “With vision, creativity, energy and accountability,” he replies, noting the Resort’s relative youth compared with all but one of five Four Seasons offerings in Hawaii. “For me, this is an opportunity to head the team while refining its culture, enhancing its services, and moving things forward to the next level for guests.”
All of the above takes diligence, of course, and that’s right up De Vries’s alley. He likes to “push days to the limit” to be impactful not just on the guest experience, but also on those who create it. He draws on insights gained from extensive international travel and management experience on the rooms side of operations at Four Seasons properties across the U.S. “We’re all a combination of our experiences,” he says. “Mine inspire me to look at the things we have here and say, how can we make them more beautiful?”
De Vries taps those same experiences in his oversight of daily operations and guest relations, which go hand in hand. “You kind of get your list of what you need to do on any given day from walking around and connecting with people.” He thinks Resort Manager is “a funny job,” in some ways, but significant every which way. “You spend time with a spectrum of guests, from celebrities to family travellers. I use the time to meet people on an intimate, practical level, and to look through their lenses and find out their thoughts and needs.”
He keeps an open mind in relaying those needs to the Resort team, he says, the better to connect with the talent and their managers on a creative and encouraging level. “Communication each way is really key. If I understand what a pool server needs today, I can help our managers create direction to get the team everywhere it needs to be.”
Midwestern born, De Vries grew up in a creative atmosphere. His mother, who raised him on her own, is a modern quilter, and design was frequent topic of conversation as he grew up. “I learned early on that everything is about details, and putting details together is what creates the bigger picture.” Traveling to the Grand Tetons with his mother when he was 10, he figured his future lay in hospitality when he realised he was more interested in the hotel brands they stayed at than the majestic wonders outside the car windows.
It was the inner workings of hotels as much as the hospitality they offered that fascinated him. “I’d always find a way to go behind the front desk, see all the rooms keys, and discover all the touch points.” When he later found that one could earn a college degree in hospitality, everything came together.
But actually, it had already come together, when De Vries walked into a job fair at age 15 and walked out with a position at the Front Desk of an 800-room hotel in Milwaukee. Later, while earning his degree in Providence, Rhode Island, he worked part time on the room service team of a grand hotel at the end of an hour-long train ride to Boston.
“Oh, I partied plenty in college, too,” he ensures with a laugh, “but my experience wasn’t typical. I was very nose-down and focused on my career.”
Following graduation, De Vries found his way to Four Seasons at the Front Desk in Boston. He held various roles at the property as well as in Los Angeles before relocating back east as Director of Rooms in Washington, DC in 2017. Two years later, he became Hotel Manager. The timing of his appointment opened the door for new challenges and opportunities, as he led a skeleton crew for a time during the pandemic and pitched in on everything from making beds to baking cookies for guests while conceiving of new food and beverage concepts that, he remembers, ended up helping the Hotel in the long run.
All along, he has forged his own path by studying the way things are done and finding new and improved ways of doing them – just like he’s doing now in Oahu. De Vries continues to live the well-travelled, creative lifestyle that swept him into a worldly career. He frequently visits Beijing, China, with his husband, a German-born, Chinese-speaking professor of political science focused on energy policy.
Meantime, it didn’t take long for De Vries to get comfortable with the lifestyle of Oahu. He enjoys hiking and the beach, as well as taking in museums and the local dining scene. “Honolulu has this whole hipster scene, and from what I can tell there’s a lot going on,” he says, adding knowingly, “It has given me a lot of interesting ideas.”