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Four Seasons Resort Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt

  • 1 Four Seasons Boulevard, P.O. Box 203, Sharm El Sheikh, South Sinai, Egypt
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Sam Ioannidis

General Manager
“There is a real sense of calm here. Strolling through the gardens and past little river-ways, you really feel like this is a sanctuary.”

 

Four Seasons Tenure

  • Since 1992
  • First Four Seasons Assignment: Director Restaurant and Bars, Four Seasons Hotel Toronto

Employment History

  • Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel Athens; Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi at Maryah Island; Four Seasons Hotel Baku, Azerbaijan; Four Seasons Hotel New York; Four Seasons Hotel Boston; Four Seasons Hotel Houston; Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach; Four Seasons Resort Nevis, West Indies; Four Seasons Hotel Toronto

Birthplace

  • Frankfurt, Germany

Education

  • BA in Hospitality and Tourism Management, Ryerson University, Toronto

Languages

  • English, Greek

“I’m always excited at being part of something elaborate and impressive,” says Sam Ioannidis of the satisfaction he gets as General Manager of Four Seasons Resort Sharm El Sheikh. “I really believe it’s important to wake up every day and find something that challenges you, because it’s good to be motivated to succeed. This place does it for me.”

Appointed in summer 2019, Ioannidis arrived in Sharm El Sheikh ready for action with expansion plans already laid out to transform the Resort into the largest Four Seasons in the region and one of the largest around the globe. With his hardhat ready to employ at a moment’s notice, he divided time between managing the guest experience and keeping tabs on the construction of new features including 97 guest rooms overlooking the Red Sea and 5 food and beverage outlets to bring the resort’s count up to an even dozen as well as a two-storey gym, tennis and squash courts and an all-new kids club. The expansion also included the creation of a new dive centre for guests to learn scuba onsite, plus the addition of beaches, pools, and more than 3,000 royal palms to enhance the oasis-like atmosphere.

Ioannidis brought more than two decades of Four Seasons experience to oversight of this significant Resort transformation. Recounting past work as GM on openings in Abu Dhabi and Athens, he notes that, “every project has its own complexities and some can be quite involving. The important thing for a manager is to keep the promise of Four Seasons hospitality and to seamlessly deliver the highest standards of service to guests.”

Those standards go over the top in Sharm El Sheikh, he continues, adding, “they have to. Authenticity and service are deeply embedded in Egyptian culture, and we’re hosting people in one of the most-visited countries in the world.” Beyond enjoying the Resort’s many luxury amenities, guests can explore the surrounding nature and history, with the desert on one side, the Red Sea on the other, and sites of historic and religious significance, including St. Catherine’s Monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai, the very place where God is said to have appeared to Moses in the Burning Bush.

The luxury of the Resort comes in a large part from its beauty and serenity, he says. “There is a real sense of calm here. Strolling through the gardens and past little river-ways, you really feel like this is a sanctuary.” Meanwhile, Ioannidis jumps right in to further the culture of service expected from Four Seasons. “My goal is to connect with as many guests coming through our doors as I can. When they see the GM in there with the team, building the experience and being the respectful host, they feel welcome. Being the front face of our operation is really key for me.”

A native of Frankfurt, Ioannidis grew up in Germany and Greece steeped in the culture of his Greek parents. His mother owned a restaurant, his father owned a commercial painting company, and what he learned from each helped focus his career. “I learned early to approach hotel work with an appreciation for architecture and design as a setting for the ways hospitality can bring people together.”

After making his way to Toronto, Ioannidis worked at a renowned fine dining restaurant while studying hospitality and tourism at a local university. The dean gave him good advice, encouraging him to work “only in places of the highest calibre.” He started at the local Four Seasons, known then as Inn on the Park, using the opportunity to soak up everything he could about food, wine and travel. Though all went well, Ioannidis left after six months to open his own restaurant.

Then one evening he bumped into his old Four Seasons GM. “He told me he could use my talents again, and I’ve been with the company ever since.”

Rising in operations on the food and beverage side, Ioannidis worked at properties throughout North America before being appointed to lead Four Seasons Hotel Baku in 2013. In 2015, he opened in Abu Dhabi, and two years later became opening GM in Athens. “As a proud Greek,” he remembers, “introducing Four Seasons highest standards of luxury and service to Greece for the first time was really special for me.”

Wherever Ioannidis travels, he takes his passion for food and beverages with him, experiencing destinations through local ingredients and cooking experiences. He is quite impressed with the wine industry in Egypt, which he calls “robust, filled with great local vineyards and wineries.”

Ioannidis also puts his heart and soul in to staying in shape, starting each day with a six-kilometre run and a trip to the gym at the Resort. When he can, he snorkels too. “That can be quite therapeutic,” he says, noting frequent sightings of eagle rays and no end of colourful fish beneath the waves. “It’s really a dream to be in such a unique destination that has so much to offer.”