Senior Spa Director
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 2009
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Spa Therapist, Four Seasons Hotel Beirut
- Four Seasons Hotel Beirut; Le Gabarit Clinic, Jal El Dib, Lebanon; Najjar Basketball Team; Lebanese Football Federation; Military Hospital, Badaro, Lebanon
- Bachelor of Science, Physiotherapy, Lebanese University, Beirut; Master of Science, Manual Therapy, Université Catholique, Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium
- Beirut, Lebanon
- Arabic, French, English, Spanish
Ensuring that guests feel welcome for wellness may be Charbel Watfa’s main aim, but it’s not the only thing that drives him as Senior Spa Director of Four Seasons Hotel Tunis. “I am very fortunate to have merged into what my job is about, personally and emotionally,” he says of the position that sees him leading the architecturally striking Spa as well as consulting on those of other Four Seasons addresses in Morocco and Jordan. “My work is really central to my life, and that makes me all the more driven to create transformative experiences for our guests.”
Key to creating those experiences is never forgetting that he is running a business, and like any business everything needs to click. “People think working in a spa must be stress-free, but it can be very demanding,” he continues of the attention he lavishes to ensure not just guest satisfaction but superlative performance from his 20-plus-member team.
That includes continuous training on treatments and techniques as well as the finer points of Four Seasons-style hospitality. “They learn how to speak with guests in person and over the phone, and adapt smoothly to every situation,” he says, noting how much he enjoys training because of his background in physical therapy and luxury hospitality. “They get skills they can carry through their whole careers.”
While Tunisia has challenges all its own, including the time it can take for businesses to secure necessary items for operation, Watfa sees a lot of potential for the Spa to invest in and improve the local market. Indeed, one of his first moves upon joining the property was to bring in a Tunisian brand: Jardin Amazygh, a small company that produces traditional black soap, body scrubs, and oils, including for the Spa’s hammam and popular Four Elements concept. “It’s good to have local touches for our international guests, because they always want to experience the culture.”
Born in Beirut, Lebanon, Watfa studied physiotherapy in his hometown and went on to earn a Master’s in manual therapy in Belgium. An athlete with a passion for tennis, he then spent eight years putting his education to use back home, splitting time between work in a military hospital and with athletes on a local football and basketball team.
The idea of taking his talents to spas never occurred to him until he discovered that Four Seasons was recruiting to fill positions at a new property in Beirut. “I had no hotel experience and I knew very little about the company. It was a risk, but I thought, ‘Why not give it a try?” It didn’t take long for Watfa to become enamoured. “I fell in love with the spa concept right away. On the first mass training day, I knew I could grow with Four Seasons and that I would one day manage the place.”
He did just that, rising to Spa Manager after a couple of years and remaining for eight all together before moving on to Tunis in March 2020. Not the best timing, in retrospect, but Watfa used the global travel slowdown productively, living at the Hotel, focusing on his spirit and his work, and restructuring the Spa.
With his experience and record of success at Four Seasons, Watfa has a lot of creative input into the operation he oversees, using corporate guidelines as a “starting point” and developing experiences beyond them. The best ideas come from input from his team, he says. “I always involve them when we try out new products and develop protocols. When they know they played a part in generating things, they can sell them much better.”
Still a regular on tennis courts, Watfa enjoys downtime away from the hotel playing at a local club, as well as hiking and reading. “A book is my constant companion.” He also returns to Lebanon every few months to visit his family, and vice versa. “We all want to discover everything we can about Tunisia.”