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Is it just me, or is 4S declining?

Is it just me, or is 4S declining?

Old Aug 12, 19, 4:06 am
  #1  
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Is it just me, or is 4S declining?

I have been a huge 4S fan since the early 2000's and have stayed at most of their european and asian properties. Quite a few of the amcerican ones as well. Anyways. I always found them to be professional and their properties being in the top 2-3 at a given location. Last year I had a super iffy stay at Sayan, and was actually super surprised at how many issues we had. From maintenance to f&b and even service recovery was super clumsy. Billing was a scandal. So this summer, we were doing a trip around europe and did a week at 4S Firenze. I mean, the property itself was still nice and well kept but every single F&B interaction ended in regret. Service recovery was no where to be seen and a huge portion of the staff were zombies that just as well could have been at a Marriott. Whats going on? Am Ijust becoming old and cranky or is there a trend here??

M
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Old Aug 12, 19, 5:46 am
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Four Seasons operates around 120 properties worldwide, many of them very consistent in standards globally (even considering local markets). Invariably mistakes happen and will always happen, but I found service recovery always excellent.

I don't know when your stay at FS Firenze was, but they were probably mourning the loss of their very dear GM, Patrizio Cipollini. Max Musto just started a few weeks ago and standards should be picking up very soon again. Haven't been to Sayan in ages, so don't know what their status is. Any details what went wrong?

We had this discussion here before and generally I think FS faces a huge challenge to keep up service standards while expanding so rapidly, but they have been exemplary in their recruiting and hand picked all of their teams. Outside hires have been great, too. I wouldn't worry yet, maybe you just weren't lucky. Let them know, they do care.

Last edited by scented; Aug 12, 19 at 7:16 am
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Old Aug 12, 19, 6:15 am
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No it isn’t. In my opinion, it is the most consistently excellent of all of the luxury brands.
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Old Aug 12, 19, 7:16 am
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Originally Posted by Valveking View Post
No it isn’t. In my opinion, it is the most consistently excellent of all of the luxury brands.
Agreed. FS Jumeirah Beach. Downtown NY and Seoul have been exemplary to us. Every need taken care of and then some.
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Old Aug 12, 19, 8:50 am
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Not aware of any brand with 100% consistency. Even Aman, with a much smaller footprint can't be perfectly consistent.
Would say FS is still among the best, overall and many FS properties are consistent enough.
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Old Aug 12, 19, 12:37 pm
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Every property is its own beast, which is why loyalty to a particular chain is silly if you care about hard and soft product.

Four Seasons is one of the better chains, but you will find many properties that don't fit the brand and are complete lost causes.

Florence is interesting. My partner and I are very close with the property (we stay there 4-5 times a year), as well as the staff.

Overall, on all our stays, the service has been impeccable, comparable to the Crillon in Paris, where we are also regulars.
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Old Aug 12, 19, 2:57 pm
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I think FS is getting too big. The core, premier FS hotels in top locations are still as excellent as ever, but in my view they are running the risk of diluting their brand image and losing track of ‘the vision’ by getting too big. The fact is that the many FS properties opening up around the world in what I refer to as second tier markets will inevitably be “FS lite” hotels, akin to average Park Hyatt or StRegis premium business hotels, as opposed to the legendary type of Four Seasons hotels where the real magic of FS service comes alive and the stay experience is unparalleled.

Back when FS had forty or so hotels, and people were hand picked for management positions throughout the entire group, the FS name became synonymous with the ultimate hospitality experience. The name without that same quality behind it is nothing more than a name, just like Ritz-Carlton that was previously referred to colloquially as the ultimate in hotels. Ritz-Carlton certainly has changed as a Marriott brand, and has many second tier properties, along with a dozen or so really great ones. Four Seasons is still in a considerably better position in its premier city hotel and resort locations, but I would like to see them remember the original FS vision and resist the temptation to grow too big and to enter markets that really cannot support a Four Seasons. That has definitely already started happening, unfortunately.

Today’s Rosewood reminds me much more of what FS used to be before it started getting too big. In my opinion FS should not be competing with Park Hyatt and other similar brands, but should stick to what they do best - hotels where dreams come alive and you can feel the quality everywhere you look.
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Old Aug 12, 19, 11:19 pm
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Originally Posted by MikeFromTokyo View Post
I think FS is getting too big. The core, premier FS hotels in top locations are still as excellent as ever, but in my view they are running the risk of diluting their brand image and losing track of ‘the vision’ by getting too big. The fact is that the many FS properties opening up around the world in what I refer to as second tier markets will inevitably be “FS lite” hotels, akin to average Park Hyatt or StRegis premium business hotels, as opposed to the legendary type of Four Seasons hotels where the real magic of FS service comes alive and the stay experience is unparalleled.

Back when FS had forty or so hotels, and people were hand picked for management positions throughout the entire group, the FS name became synonymous with the ultimate hospitality experience. The name without that same quality behind it is nothing more than a name, just like Ritz-Carlton that was previously referred to colloquially as the ultimate in hotels. Ritz-Carlton certainly has changed as a Marriott brand, and has many second tier properties, along with a dozen or so really great ones. Four Seasons is still in a considerably better position in its premier city hotel and resort locations, but I would like to see them remember the original FS vision and resist the temptation to grow too big and to enter markets that really cannot support a Four Seasons. That has definitely already started happening, unfortunately.

Today’s Rosewood reminds me much more of what FS used to be before it started getting too big. In my opinion FS should not be competing with Park Hyatt and other similar brands, but should stick to what they do best - hotels where dreams come alive and you can feel the quality everywhere you look.
Definitely. A classic example would be Four Seasons Jeju, South Korea. Not many people outside of Korea have ever even heard of Jeju but it has a Four Seasons coming. Jeju is considered the Hawaii of Korea but not really a world luxury vacation hotspot. I guess they will get well-off domestic vacationers and some rich East Asian guests but that's it.
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Old Aug 13, 19, 3:35 pm
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Thank you everyone for your input. I guess the combination of increased growth and also a larger emphasis on property development are both contributing factors.

That said, I did have an awesome stay recently at FS Dubai Jumeirah Beach which was way better than expected. I’d say, it was actually better than Sayan in all prameters except for uniqueness of location of course.

I guess what surprised me the most was really while the main issues at sayan was just hardware neglect the issues at Flo was so unexpected. It was like all the adults were gone and junior staff was having a party home alone. It was crazy.

Anyway, lesson learnt. I will be much more careful in the future, and be very careful when reading reviews here and on TA. :-)
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Old Aug 13, 19, 3:57 pm
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Originally Posted by MikeFromTokyo View Post
I think FS is getting too big. The core, premier FS hotels in top locations are still as excellent as ever, but in my view they are running the risk of diluting their brand image and losing track of ‘the vision’ by getting too big. The fact is that the many FS properties opening up around the world in what I refer to as second tier markets will inevitably be “FS lite” hotels, akin to average Park Hyatt or StRegis premium business hotels, as opposed to the legendary type of Four Seasons hotels where the real magic of FS service comes alive and the stay experience is unparalleled.

Back when FS had forty or so hotels, and people were hand picked for management positions throughout the entire group, the FS name became synonymous with the ultimate hospitality experience. The name without that same quality behind it is nothing more than a name, just like Ritz-Carlton that was previously referred to colloquially as the ultimate in hotels. Ritz-Carlton certainly has changed as a Marriott brand, and has many second tier properties, along with a dozen or so really great ones. Four Seasons is still in a considerably better position in its premier city hotel and resort locations, but I would like to see them remember the original FS vision and resist the temptation to grow too big and to enter markets that really cannot support a Four Seasons. That has definitely already started happening, unfortunately.

Today’s Rosewood reminds me much more of what FS used to be before it started getting too big. In my opinion FS should not be competing with Park Hyatt and other similar brands, but should stick to what they do best - hotels where dreams come alive and you can feel the quality everywhere you look.
This. By way of example, I have been unimpressed with the Ocean Club Paradise Island which FS took over two years ago- they have done very little to bring this property up to FS standards and seem content to just milk it. If they are as careless every time they take over another hotel, they will, indeed, dilute the brand.
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Old Aug 13, 19, 4:08 pm
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I think Four Seasons is experiencing the highs and lulls as do most bigger chains. Even Peninsula had some weak properties (and Paris had some major weakness in its first year or two) even with its tiny portfolio. We all know the highs and lows found among Belmond, MO, and Rosewood, as well.

I also think too many people herein are unaware of how many of the other chains have caught up or sometimes even surpass Four Seasons. When we move around more between chains, it makes it easier to recognize that Four Seasons hasn't diminished so much as their competition has caught on and caught up.

I laugh when people dismiss St Regis, Ritz-Carlton, Luxury Collection, and Park Hyatt because of the fact that people can use points, as there are many properties in those portfolios that easily match or even surpass those of Four Seasons. I've know because I've stayed at or spent a fair amount of time at too many FS, StR, RC, and PH in the locations in which there are several--not to mention Aman, Peninsula, MO, etc.

There are plenty of great luxury options besides FS when you stop drinking the FS-only Kool-aid. Most StR are quite comparable to even the best FS. Many but not most RC are also quite comparable--though more uniform, much as FS used to be like a decade or so ago. The RC Kyoto easily surpasses the newer FS Kyoto...and Suiran is vastly more interesting than either of those to me! There's rarely anything like Luxury Collection in the FS portfolio. And many PH are easily as good as any FS, too.

FS has many outstanding properties. The difference really is that the gap between them and other properties has narrowed or doesn't exist at all any more.
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Last edited by bhrubin; Aug 13, 19 at 7:25 pm
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Old Aug 13, 19, 6:28 pm
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Agree with the posters that noted that other brands are just catching up. Same questions have been asked about Aman, and the general consensus is just overall improvement in the industry.

I've only done a handful of Four Seasons--Jimbaran Bay, Chiang Mai, and Koh Samui. What I've noticed is when management has singled you out for better treatment then the service is phenomenal. And they are less stingy about upgrades than other brands. E.g. I was at the Samui property and was upgraded from a regular pool villa to a 3-bedroom residence. Total overkill, but much appreciated. Rationale was that a GM from another property put in a good word, and I had an amazing stay. But then shortly thereafter chinmoylad, my Virtuoso agent, had a weak stay.

In general I've found Four Seasons service to be solid and efficient, but not personalized in any way. At 2 of the 3 properties I've been to I just felt like a nameless guest. I know it's not Aman and people ask for room numbers, but there was a point where I joked I should just where a t-shirt with my room number on it to give my voice a bit of a rest. At the Chiang Mai property not only did everyone ask for room numbers, but during breakfast service they would tell you your table number when you sat down. So I had to remember table and room number and was asked multiple times during each meal.

I haven't made it to a Rosewood yet, but as MikefromTokyo points out above, sounds like they have promise. Would love to do the treehouse one outside of Luang Prabang!
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Old Aug 14, 19, 12:49 am
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I guess you are right. What annoyed me though is that especially FS:FLO is at the top of the list in that city. Not like Bali where there are like 5-10 top competitors close by.

I agree on RC and STR. I found St. Regis to be all over the place, and I guess so is RC. RC Kyoto is in my top 5 ever stays, worldwide, so yeah, they still do produce great locations. I guess another example of FS being inferior to the competition is Milan - specifically PH Milan. (However they are overdue a room renovation now)


Originally Posted by bhrubin View Post
I laugh when people dismiss St Regis, Ritz-Carlton, Luxury Collection, and Park Hyatt because of the fact that people can use points, as there are many properties in those portfolios that easily match or even surpass those of Four Seasons. I've know because I've stayed at or spent a fair amount of time at too many FS, StR, RC, and PH in the locations in which there are several--not to mention Aman, Peninsula, MO, etc.

There are plenty of great luxury options besides FS when you stop drinking the FS-only Kool-aid. Most StR are quite comparable to even the best FS. Many but not most RC are also quite comparable--though more uniform, much as FS used to be like a decade or so ago. The RC Kyoto easily surpasses the newer FS Kyoto...and Suiran is vastly more interesting than either of those to me! There's rarely anything like Luxury Collection in the FS portfolio. And many PH are easily as good as any FS, too.

FS has many outstanding properties. The difference really is that the gap between them and other properties has narrowed or doesn't exist at all any more.
I think I got the "Could you remind me of your room number" question like 500 times at FS:FLO. It was really weird because on day 1 there was some effort. After that they just gave up. And when someone remembered they got it wrong. LOL. Personally I like being more anonymous and don't really like that type of service interaction, so it was OK for me. Still weird.

Originally Posted by nmuva98 View Post
Agree with the posters that noted that other brands are just catching up. Same questions have been asked about Aman, and the general consensus is just overall improvement in the industry.

I've only done a handful of Four Seasons--Jimbaran Bay, Chiang Mai, and Koh Samui. What I've noticed is when management has singled you out for better treatment then the service is phenomenal. And they are less stingy about upgrades than other brands. E.g. I was at the Samui property and was upgraded from a regular pool villa to a 3-bedroom residence. Total overkill, but much appreciated. Rationale was that a GM from another property put in a good word, and I had an amazing stay. But then shortly thereafter chinmoylad, my Virtuoso agent, had a weak stay.

In general I've found Four Seasons service to be solid and efficient, but not personalized in any way. At 2 of the 3 properties I've been to I just felt like a nameless guest. I know it's not Aman and people ask for room numbers, but there was a point where I joked I should just where a t-shirt with my room number on it to give my voice a bit of a rest. At the Chiang Mai property not only did everyone ask for room numbers, but during breakfast service they would tell you your table number when you sat down. So I had to remember table and room number and was asked multiple times during each meal.

I haven't made it to a Rosewood yet, but as MikefromTokyo points out above, sounds like they have promise. Would love to do the treehouse one outside of Luang Prabang!

Last edited by RichardInSF; Aug 14, 19 at 3:21 pm Reason: Consecutive posts by same member
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Old Aug 14, 19, 1:22 am
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On average, Four Seasons is a superior chain than RC, StR, PH, and WA. Probably not better than Aman, but the markets for both don't frequently overlap, so it's rarely the case that I'm deciding between the two when I'm a specific city.

That's not to say there are not bad properties in the Four Seasons portfolio. There definitely are.

And that's not to say there aren't good properties in, say, the RC or StR portfolios. RC Kyoto was an incredible stay for me (despite some service hiccups), as was the StR in Osaka. I also enjoyed the Park Hyatt Seoul. And the Waldorf Chicago (right after it was the Elysium, it's kind of fallen off since then).

This is why loyalty to chains is a silly endeavor. It makes a bit more sense with airlines than with hotels. And I honestly enjoy that Four Seasons doesn't have an official loyalty program. When I check into a Four Seasons, there isn't a separate carpet for platinums or whatever, making me feel like I'm group 2 boarding a United flight, for example. Those latter aspects are decisively not luxury.

Finally, someone ITT said the Rosewood is catching up. It's still very property specific though. The Crillon is one of our favorites in the entire world (we stay there over the George V), but it's still very property specific. They're getting better at unifying the brand and service standards, but I think they still have a way to go.
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Old Aug 14, 19, 2:21 am
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Originally Posted by nmuva98 View Post
Agree with the posters that noted that other brands are just catching up. Same questions have been asked about Aman, and the general consensus is just overall improvement in the industry.

I've only done a handful of Four Seasons--Jimbaran Bay, Chiang Mai, and Koh Samui. What I've noticed is when management has singled you out for better treatment then the service is phenomenal. And they are less stingy about upgrades than other brands. E.g. I was at the Samui property and was upgraded from a regular pool villa to a 3-bedroom residence. Total overkill, but much appreciated. Rationale was that a GM from another property put in a good word, and I had an amazing stay. But then shortly thereafter chinmoylad, my Virtuoso agent, had a weak stay.

In general I've found Four Seasons service to be solid and efficient, but not personalized in any way. At 2 of the 3 properties I've been to I just felt like a nameless guest. I know it's not Aman and people ask for room numbers, but there was a point where I joked I should just where a t-shirt with my room number on it to give my voice a bit of a rest. At the Chiang Mai property not only did everyone ask for room numbers, but during breakfast service they would tell you your table number when you sat down. So I had to remember table and room number and was asked multiple times during each meal.

I haven't made it to a Rosewood yet, but as MikefromTokyo points out above, sounds like they have promise. Would love to do the treehouse one outside of Luang Prabang!
Interesting because I just stayed at the FS Chiang Mai a month ago, and at FS Singapore earlier this year. At both properties, and I agree with you, breakfast was a weak spot. Big buffet style, need to remember a table number etc - not luxury at all. By comparison I stayed at the COMO in Bali, the very first day I went to breakfast they knew my name without ever asking me. But I also tend to like a la carte breakfasts.

Apart from that little detail, Chiang Mai was fantastic. Everyone knew our names and our plans, even if we had never met them. I thought that was exceptional and personalized, even if we did have to repeat our room number.

No other locations where I have stayed at both an FS and other brands, but there are some strong properties from other brands as mentioned upthread in other locations. Thinking of Shanghai as an example where I've been at Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, Ritz Carlton, Mandarin Oriental - the PH was probably nicest. Ritz (Portman) was a joke, and MO was a very disappointing introduction to the MO brand (followed by Miami which was also very average).
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