Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh at Kingdom Centre
- Kingdom Centre, P.O. Box 231000, Riyadh, 11321, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 2021
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Current
- Alexander House Hotel & Utopia Spa, UK; University Arms, Cambridge, UK (Marriott, Autograph Collection); Old Government House Hotel, Guernsey, Channel Islands; Stapleford Park Country House Hotel and Sporting Estate, UK
- BTEC, Customer Service, Pearson
- English, Hungarian, some Romanian, brushing up on Arabic
There is a wealth of services waiting to help guests make the most of their time at Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh at Kingdom Centre, and Chief Concierge Zalàn Schuster holds the keys. “We are all about going the extra mile to welcome guests and meet their needs during their time with us,” he says of the Concierge team of the sky-high Hotel. “It gives us as much pleasure to serve them as they get enjoying themselves.”
An impassioned professional with extensive experience and history of curating enriching experiences for luxury hotel clientele, Schuster is brand new to the Saudi Arabian capital and the Middle East beyond, though both have been on “bucket list” for years. Upon his appointment in late 2021, he dove right into making connections and uncovering sources for everything Four Seasons guests could desire: from “impossible tables” at the finest restaurants, to entertaining tours of city streets and desert sands, great barbers for superb cuts, to purveyors of Tom Ford for last-minute emergencies with gala events.
Regardless of the request, Schuster’s goal “is to say ‘Yes’ to everything.” His membership in Les Clefs d’Or, the international organization of the crème de la crème of hotel concierges, proves he is capable of doing just that. It also offers him connections with other concierges throughout Riyadh and Saudi Arabia, and a network of some 4,000 fellow members in 60 countries and 530 destinations beyond.
“Concierge is a society,” he says. “We all work together toward guest satisfaction.”
Concierge is also a lifestyle Schuster loves to embrace. He likens what concierges do to the role of a doctor: “You have to be passionate about serving others, put other people’s interests ahead of your own, and have the patience – sometimes a lot of patience – to see requests through.” While he looks for experience for the Concierge team in Riyadh, more important are signs that new Saudi Arabian hires are capable of plunging in as well. “A hunger to learn is the main ingredient for Concierge on their way up,” he says, adding that “attitude, interest, and resourcefulness” follow close behind.
Schuster got his start as a bellboy at a hotel on the island of Crete in Greece where along with carrying baggage he began studying the concierge concept and decided to make membership in Les Clefs d’Or his goal. He later relocated to England to work as a hall porter and took his first position as a concierge in 2014 at Alexander House Hotel & Utopia Spa. In 2016, he moved on again to Guernsey, Channel Islands, where he became Head Concierge, gearing him up to take on the same role back on the mainland on the pre-opening team of University Arms Hotel in Cambridge.
All along the way, he constantly learned and researched, always discovering new offerings and attractions and trying to find solutions for guest requests. Perhaps most significant, he says, “I did it all with a smile on my face. People will always remember a great service and where their expectations were exceeded. It goes beyond being a guest’s best friend to being able to provide something that is going to make their stay.”
A “big fan” of history, especially the Middle Ages as they played out across Europe, Schuster is always on the lookout of sites of interest in Riyadh, as well as new destinations to travel to as time allows. “It’s often thought that concierges never switch off, and to an extent that’s true, but you have to do it occasionally,” he says. “For me, it’s heading out to socialize without any real plans other than to enjoy wherever I end up.”