A Chat With the Four Seasons CEO on the State of Luxury Travel

Alejandro Reynal knows a thing or two about a true five-star stay

January 14, 2024 8:35 am
Alejandro Reynal, Four Seasons president and CEO. We spoke with him about the state of luxury travel.
Alejandro Reynal joined Four Seasons in 2022. He's already rolling out big initiatives.
Four Seasons

The world of luxury travel isn’t as simple as it was even a few years ago. The era of a high-end hotel or resort simply needing to pack a Michelin star, a good spa, turndown service and a chocolate on the pillow gave way to today’s expectations of endless bespoke options, advanced wellness treatments and sustainability considerations.

Four Seasons jostles shoulders in a very select class of top-tier destination venues, claiming only the likes of Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, Rosewood and tiny handful of others as competition. Founded in Canada circa 1961, the company’s ranks now include more than 100 hotels and resorts in more than 45 countries.

Under the company’s unusual business model, Four Seasons owns none of the hotels bearing the stately name and iconic evolving tree logo. Instead, its vast forces operate those properties on behalf of their owners or the real-estate firms that developed them. In return, Four Seasons takes a percentage of the properties’ profits over time.

Alejandro Reynal, Four Seasons President and CEO, leads this widespread collection of destinations synonymous with refined and tested comfort, service and sophistication. The 50-year-old graduate of the Harvard Business School came to the company as CEO in 2022 after serving as executive vice president for Hyatt’s Apple Leisure Group. Now he looks to guide a long-established stalwart of esteemed accommodations into a new era of potential partnerships and evolving luxury expectations. 

Serengeti Safari Lodge
Serengeti Safari Lodge
Four Seasons

InsideHook: Four Seasons is one of those international brands that remains synonymous with luxury. Over the last few years and extending into the post-Covid period, the concept of luxury travel became much more about experiences than just the common features of five-star hotels. How did the Four Seasons concept and philosophy adjust with this new world of expectations?

Alejandro Reynal: Four Seasons has always had a singular focus on luxury, which has allowed us to have a clear vision forward, to understand our guests more deeply and to offer experiences that resonate with them. Luxury travelers have long valued immersive, one-of-a-kind experiences, which Four Seasons has been delivering for more than 60 years. 

While the pandemic certainly heightened this desire, our ability to create exceptional moments for our guests — both within and outside the walls of our hotels — has long been part of who we are.

Do you have favorite examples of this “outside the walls” approach?

Our Safari Lodge in the Serengeti offers tours led by the hotel’s resident naturalist Maasai guides and park rangers, and in Egypt our teams can curate private dining experiences overlooking the pyramids of Giza. We took this experiential innovation to new heights in 2015 with the introduction of the hospitality industry’s first branded private jet, and since then have continued to evolve our offerings with our Drive program in 2022 and Four Seasons Yachts which will launch in 2025.

How does a line of elite hotels as widely spread around the world as Four Seasons look to maintain its quality standards — especially as everything from technology to ecological concerns to customer expectations evolve? 

One of the most common questions I receive is how we are able to make the Four Seasons service experience consistent around the world, no matter where guests stay with us. As with everything we do, the key to our success is our people and their dedication to living by the Golden Rule and leading with genuine heart. To this day, this simple, universal principle is the cornerstone of our service culture and inspires our people to go above and beyond for our guests, creating acts of love — big, small and unexpected.

Beyond our service, we take this human-centric approach to all that we do. Whether ensuring there is always a human element to the technology we introduce, or treating our communities and environments with the same kindness as we do each other.

You recently presented your “Based on a True Stay” video production campaign shot across your Four Seasons properties. What does that reveal?

[“Based on a True Stay”] beautifully captures the types of bespoke experiences that our teams create every single day. It spotlights just a few real-life examples of our staff creating unforgettable moments for our guests based on their specific desires and interests, but these moments of unscripted care are a regular occurrence in our hotels, resorts and residences around the world.

Understanding the impact personalization and guest recognition have on creating a true luxury experience, we will continue to strengthen these elements of our service, leveraging technology but always keeping our people-centric culture at the core.

Costa Palmas
Costa Palmas
Four Seasons

There is a unique ultra-luxury development on the East Cape of Los Cabos that presents a first-of-its-kind partnership between Four Seasons and Aman: Costa Palmas with its Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed golf course. That site forges a unique, high-end community and a new kind of cooperation between two of the world’s most elite hotel and resort brands. How did that come about in Mexico and could we see more of such connections in the future?

We have close relationships with many different hospitality companies, especially in destinations where we have a shared goal of ensuring the surrounding communities are supported and thrive. In Costa Palmas, for example, each hospitality experience is unique, yet together [Four Seasons and Aman] have created a new and bustling destination in an unexpected part of Mexico. 

With each new property, our goal is to offer a distinctive product in each and every market where we operate, always with Four Seasons legendary care as the defining feature.


Join America's Fastest Growing Spirits Newsletter THE SPILL. Unlock all the reviews, recipes and revelry — and get 15% off award-winning La Tierra de Acre Mezcal.