A Season of Change
As Richard Raab takes his position as the new General Manager of Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay, the luxurious hotel readies for an exciting new change of command
Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), the same designer company as that of the Burj Khalifa, the statuesque 68-storey hotel situated at centre of Bahrain Bay, The Four Seasons, is just as breathtaking with every visit, as it is was when it first opened in 2015. The lush olive trees welcome guests into the neutral themed waiting area, as they expand their gaze through the glass curtain, which, in the daytime allows a scenic view across the bay to the heart of Bahrain, and as the sun starts to set, the dimming sky sets the tone for a quiet and relaxing evening to follow through the myriad of services offered to the guests that befit their every need. Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay is a hotel that serves its guests beyond the luxury rooms, top class dining outlets, Spa, and extracurricular activities, but rather brings to them an experience that makes their stay or visit worthwhile, and furthering that experience, and following his predecessor Greg Pirkle, is the newly appointed General Manager of the hotel, Richard Raab. Coming from the humdrum of the UAE to the homely island, Richard spoke to Perle Magazine about what inspired his decision to become a part of the industry and join the company and why 18 years later he is still amazed by the beauty of being a hotelier.
Fascinated by the service industry from a young age, Richard was drawn to the idea of becoming the captain of a cruise ship after coming across one in his home country of Norway. The grace and class with which the captain carried himself stuck with Richard and he decided that is the career he wanted to pursue, however, with time he realised, a cruise ship is merely a floating hotel, and got his degree in International Hotel Management from the University of Surrey in Southwest London. After having worked other hotels prior to joining the Four Seasons, Richard became part of the Four Seasons family in 1999 and has not looked back since. Working for the first time on the Bahrain property – although having visited it before – Richard described the property as an hotelier’s dream. Being able to witness the majestic hotel from the sky, before even landing into Bahrain, Richard says this property is easily one of the most unique ones in the hotel chain. “It is designed by someone who is obviously used to making unique, world class buildings. And you could lift this property and put it on Park Lane in London, Champs-Élysées in Paris, or 5th Avenue in New York, and it would still stand out”, he adds.
Nothing the drastic reactions to the industry, Richard says being a part of it you are either fond of it or dislike it, and after his 18 years in the industry, he adds he loves it as the dynamic nature of his job means no two days are the same. “Things and people are not predictable, and there is always something happening all the time, which makes things very exciting”, he says. Having seen the industry evolve over the years, Richard says one of the most vital advancements the industry has seen is the use of technology to ensure customers has the most comfortable Four Seasons experience. He explains guests can now download the Four Seasons app and can check into the hotel before they arrive, or can order room service before they get to the hotel and have it ready for them upon their arrival. “You always have to prove yourself every single day, you can never sit back and relax. You have to deliver”, he says and notes that every guest that walks in to the hotel expects a certain kind of experience because of the name on the front, and they have to take the opportunity to make sure that they continue making that image and brand name stronger, and to maintain that.
For the advancements that will come to the hotel under his commandeering, Richard explains there are new and exciting projects coming up such as the introduction of CUT Lounge by Wolfgang Puck as a smoking-permitted venue, as well as the launch of its new American Classics menu created by Executive Chef Brian Becher. He adds there will also be some routine touch-ups that will take place to ensure the guests are part of an elite hotel experience. Truly committed to providing each customer that walks in through the doors of the Four Seasons, Richard says he looks forward to meeting and greeting every guest at the door and looking after them to create a unique and customised experience for them. He says they are always appreciative of guest feedback, adding, “some of our best improvements and ideas come from our guests and we are open to that.”
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