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Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach

  • 2800 South Ocean Boulevard, Palm Beach, Florida, 33480, U.S.A.
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Mohamed Elbanna

Regional Vice President and General Manager

“I read a lot of guest comments. They always say, ‘Your people are incredible.’”

 

Four Seasons Tenure

  • Since 2002
  • First Four Seasons Assignment: Four Seasons Resort Sharm El Sheikh, Restaurant Manager

Employment History

  • Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, California; Four Seasons Resort Nevis, West Indies; The Ritz Carlton Chicago (formerly a Four Seasons hotel), Four Seasons Hotel Alexandria at San Stefano; Four Seasons Resort Sharm El Sheikh

Birthplace

  • Cairo, Egypt

Education

  • Hotel Administration, British Academy for Tourism & Hotel Management, Cairo, Egypt

Languages Spoken

  • English, Arabic, some Italian

Luxury means different things to different people. In the Middle East, where Mohamed Elbanna got his start with Four Seasons, “it means shiny gold and big buildings.” In South Florida, where he leads Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach as General Manager, “it means providing guests with precisely the personalised service and the experiences they desire.” From that perspective, Elbanna continues, “The luxury here is about delivering on an extraordinary level every day.” And how does the Resort do that? “Without missing a beat.”

Keeping the team poised to deliver is a primary focus for Elbanna, and it inspires him to be creative. Take, for instance, his strategy during the countdown to the Resort’s multimillion-dollar renovation in 2018 with redesigned guest rooms, an enhanced pool and beach experience, new culinary offerings and more evoking the beauty of the island and the promise of Four Seasons hospitality.

With his crew hotly anticipating the transformation, he set about transforming the employee experience first. “A lot of people here were excited about the renovation project, so it was a good opportunity to show them what we can do,” Elbanna recalls of the back-of-the-house renovations he launched in 2017, including enhancements to the staff kitchen and cafeteria, the Human Resources office and more. The strategy was about “boosting excitement and making sure people know that we care about them. I’m a big believer that if you have the right people in the right seats on the bus, things are going to go well.” You get them on the bus, he explains, “by engaging and connecting with them.”

Though the Palm Beach property is widely renowned for its oceanfront amenities and being Palm Beach Island’s only Five Star and Five Diamond resort, it’s the talent that receives the most recognition. As such, learning and development are “very big” on Elbanna’s agenda, the better to ensure that employees are headed in the right direction. It seems to be working, he says: “I read a lot of guest comments. They always say, ‘Your people are incredible.’”

Growing up in Cairo, Elbanna was expected to join the family textile business, making bed sheets and covers. “My father used to take me to visit the factory, but he also took me to hotels. I liked those a lot better.” Indeed, Elbanna recalls being swept away by grand hotel addresses in the city, including the Marriott and the InterContinental with their buzzing energy and stunning interiors. “Everything upfront was always so glamorous,” he recalls, adding with a laugh, “little did I know what happens in the back of the house.”

Although Elbanna’s family is traditional, his father was open-minded about letting him pursue a hotel career – on one condition. “He supported me, but he said I had to be a success.”

Directive accomplished: A true brand veteran, Elbanna joined Four Seasons after earning a degree in hotel administration, starting in 2002 on the opening team in Sharm El Sheikh and then moving onto Alexandria. He arrived in the US in 2008 as Director of Food and Beverage of The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago (formerly a Four Seasons hotel), and four years later was promoted to upper-level management as Resort Manager in Nevis and then Hotel Manager in Westlake Village, California.  

Whatever the address, Elbanna always makes a priority of meeting with colleagues, connecting with people, reaching out to the local community, and ensuring that his family feels welcome. “Our kids have grown up with us in hotels. This is an amazing spot for them to call home.”