Four Seasons Tenure
- First hired 1990, rejoined in 2017
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Rooms Division, Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia
- Rosewood Little Dix Bay, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands; Ayana Resort and Spa, Bali; The Nam Hai, Hoi An, Vietnam (now a Four Seasons resort); Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay; Four Seasons Resort Lanai; Four Seasons Resort Nevis; Four Seasons Hotel Chicago; Four Seasons Hotel Houston; Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia
- Philadelphia, USA
- Hotel Finance Decision Making, Cornell School of Hotel Administration, Ithaca, New York
A hunger for travel, exploration and discovery has led Edward Linsley all over the world. Now it is leading him from one end of a six-kilometre (3.7 mile) long island to the other, with his energies and expertise focused on providing a carefree and luxurious stay for Four Seasons guests in between. “This is the place for people who really want to detach from the world and experience paradise and world-class adventure on their own terms,” says Linsley of the Indian Ocean getaway he oversees as General Manager of Four Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroches Island. “For seasoned travellers or those just getting their feet wet, it’s a vacation that they won’t find anywhere else.”
There is nothing to distract from the tranquility of Desroches Island, a remote spot in the Outer Amirante Islands of Seychelles off the coast of East Africa. With just a few-dozen beach suites, a handful of private villas, two restaurants, a lounge bar, and a spa experience as dreamy as the island, the Resort is one of the company’s most intimate addresses. The island’s natural beauty is pristine, with 14 kilometres (8.7 miles) of powdery white-sand beaches and endless ocean views in every direction.
If there is anyone who can relate to someone who would choose a getaway on Desroches Island, it’s Linsley. Widely and passionately travelled, he has experienced the world through his work and on his own, visiting all seven continents over the years including Antarctica aboard the MS National Geographic Explorer in 2016.
Linsley was initially inspired to join the hospitality industry by his parents, particularly his father who managed a restaurant in Philadelphia. “Both of my parents loved to cook, and our dining table became a place to discover the world through food,” he remembers. “At that time, we weren’t able to travel much, but every night they’d whip up a dish from a different culture. I learned about those cultures by eating them, and I suppose it left me hungry for more.” He adds with a laugh: “I’ll still travel anywhere for food and great coffee.”
Following a short stint in the US Navy, Linsley acted on advice from a friend and applied to Four Seasons in Philadelphia, landing a spot in the Rooms Division before quickly transitioning to Food and Beverage. It was the start of a well-rounded hotel career that saw him advance through management over two decades at various city and resort destinations before departing the company to manage properties including The Nam Hai in Hoi An, Vietnam, which has since become a Four Seasons resort.
Rejoining Four Seasons for the opening of the Resort on Desroches Island was an emotional, heartfelt thing for Linsely: “Like coming home,” he says. “When I started we had 18 properties. When I left we had 85. Now there are more than 100. The growth of the company and the industry over the course of my career has been amazing.” He long ago realised that one spends more time with one’s colleagues than at home in the business. “I really missed the camaraderie.”
The beauty, exclusivity and experiences of Desroches Island create a perfect setting for Linsley to relate one-on-one and build personal relationships with guests. “That’s the part of hospitality that really drives me,” he says. He points to lush forests full of wildlife; the organic spa with natural products and treatments to immerse guests in their exotic surroundings; and secluded accommodations at once rustic, luxurious and plugged with modern conveniences. Adventure and natural engagement abound, with a tortoise sanctuary onsite, coral reefs beneath crystal-clear waters for snorkeling just strokes from the shore, and world-class diving and deep-sea fishing all around. “This is really a castaway paradise with something new to explore and discover everyday.”
Linsley doesn’t deliver the Resort’s hospitality all by himself, of course. Recruiting driven talent plays into his personal interest in emotional intelligence (aka EQ), which, in a nutshell, is the ability to recognise, understand and manage one’s emotions and positively influence those of others. “For me, EQ is about better understanding the people I work with and getting them to work together.” Mentoring is another pillar of his management style – so much so, that Linsley requires team leaders do a course in mentorship through the Cornell School of Hotel Administration.
As much as Linsley’s latest Four Seasons assignment has to offer, the island destination has forced him to put one aspect of his life on hold. “No matter where I live or travel, I’ve always tried to support local art,” he says, noting the substantial and eclectic collection – “silks, oils, sculptures” – he has amassed across the continents, most of it now in climate-controlled containment in Miami. He buys works when he feels a connection, not because he thinks they might become valuable, he says. “Though I have gotten lucky a few times.”
With his assignment on Desroches Island, Linsley has gotten lucky with the art of hospitality, too.