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Four Seasons Hotel São Paulo at Nações Unidas

  • Rua Engenheiro Mesquita Sampaio, 820 Cep 04711-902, São Paulo, Brazil
SPH_141_square_300x300

Michael Schmid

General Manager
“So much of hospitality is about human connections.”

 

Four Seasons Tenure

  • Hired 2000, now since 2017
  • First Four Seasons Assignment: Assistant Catering Manager, Four Seasons Hotel Berlin (formerly a Four Seasons hotel)

Employment History

  • Park Hyatt Mallorca; Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort, Costa Rica; Grand Hyatt São Paulo; Andaz London Liverpool Street; Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow; Park Hyatt Zurich; Four Seasons Hotel Chicago; Four Seasons Hotel Berlin (formerly a Four Seasons hotel); Fairmont Copley Plaza, Boston

Education

  • Bachelors Degree, International Hotel Management, Ecole Hotelière de Lausanne, Switzerland; Baccalaureate in Economics, Trogen, Switzerland

Birthplace

  • St. Gallen, Switzerland

Languages Spoken

  • German, English, Spanish, French, conversational Portuguese

To lead the latest step and first new build of its South American expansion, you can bet Four Seasons wanted a sure and seasoned veteran with regional experience. That’s just what it got in Michael Schmid. “Brazil is huge market with a lot of opportunity and people that already know the brand from around the world, so Four Seasons has long recognised the importance of having a base here,” says Schmid, who was named to open Four Seasons Hotel and Residences São Paulo at Nações Unidas in 2017. “My role is to set this property at the very highest level, because it’s the touch point for so many Brazilians to experience Four Seasons in their own land.”

Schmid’s appointment was the latest of a steadily rising career that has seen him welcoming travellers to luxury addresses across Europe, the Americas, and beyond. He hit the ground running in São Paulo, he says, with attention to every detail of the property including some things he’d never experienced before. “This is actually the first time I’ve worked with residential owners,” he says of the Hotel’s 84 branded residences. “At first I thought the residences would be like having 84 extra rooms, but there is a lot more to them than that. Our residents are really a key part of the Four Seasons community here.”

Schmid’s role is to ensure that every guest and visitor is dazzled by the Four Seasons experience in São Paulo. The Hotel is laid out in an elegant tower rising 28 stories above Parque da Cidade, the increasingly popular southern portion of the city as well as its largest mixed-use development. Designed by international and local architects and artisans, rendered with local materials, and decked out with works by local artists, the Hotel offers an exclusive glimpse of the vibrant city scene. Inside are 254 guest rooms beyond the residences; internationally-inspired dining and drinking including a Brazilian Botequin-style bar; plus an expansive ballroom; a quiet spa in Brazilian green marble and natural ipe; and fitness facilities including the city’s only indoor-outdoor heated swimming pool.

Schmid sees the key to success as positioning the property as a sophisticated-yet-vibrant destination that invites guests and locals to experience Four Seasons and the up-and-coming region around it. The company is leading the way in Parque da Cidade, he says, noting that with myriad major corporations drawn to the district as well, there is nothing but potential for growth. Playing off the resulting energy is what draws people in: “We have a lot of great offerings, particularly in food and beverage, that reflect the vibe of São Paulo. That opens the door for people to connect.”

Though Four Seasons is new to Brazil, local familiarity with the brand helped smooth the way for Schmid’s recruitment efforts. He was choosy about talent all the same, of course. “Hotel work is not yet seen as a career in parts of South America as it is in Asia and Europe. There is a different work/life balance here.” He hired for positive attitude and genuine personality as well as technical knowledge. “You can teach skills, but the warmth and sincerity our guests expect come from the heart.”  

Swiss by birth, Schmid travelled extensively in South America with his family as a youngster. He was fascinated by hotels from the start: “My parents tell me that when we arrived at a hotel, the first thing I would do was walk around opening doors, curious to find out what was behind them. It was the best time!” He never wanted to do anything else than work in the industry, he says, “and I never have.”

Educated at the renowned Ecole Hotelière de Lausanne in Switzerland, Schmid worked his way up the food and beverage chain at properties in the US, Europe and Russia before making his way to São Paulo in 2012 as hotel manager for an international hotel group. It was a giant step toward his first assignment as a general manager opening a resort along the Pacific in Costa Rica.

Whatever the address, Schmid has always seen exposure to different countries and cultures as the central benefit of his career choice. “For me, the main thing about this industry is that you’re not just visiting places for a couple of weeks, but working in a way that allows you to travel and explore.” He recalls, for instance, that Moscow took time to get used to. “But I did soon enough. The connections I made and experiences I had helped me grow and learn to relate to people with backgrounds different from my own.”

Schmid is a rare breed of Four Seasons recruit who joined as General Manager – though actually, he launched his career at the company’s former address in Berlin at the turn of the millennium. Hotel leadership has evolved since then, he says. “The role of the Four Seasons GM is now about adapting your leadership style to situations and empowering staff to be engaged and make decisions without fear they’re doing something wrong.”

One thing that hasn’t changed is Four Seasons dedication to The Golden Rule. Schmid recalls a talk he heard company Founder Isadore Sharp deliver in Berlin. Years later, after Schmid was appointed to lead the São Paulo property, he was invited to visit Sharp at his home in Toronto. “Seventeen years had gone by, but his message of The Golden Rule is the same. Even though Four Seasons has evolved, the core belief remains.”