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COVER STORY: Destination Perfection, Interview with Byron Chong, General Manager of Four Seasons Hotel Tianjin
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Destination Perfection

Interview with Byron Chong, General Manager of Four Seasons Hotel Tianjin

Discreet yet Thoughtful and Customized Luxury

By Richard J. Cook

Recommended Photo for Cover pageWith Tianjin's economic rise being felt across the globe, significant and valued attention is zoning in on its equally impressive hospitality industry expansion. The recent arrival of glistening Four Seasons Hotel is symbolic enough to flaunt the quality of Tianjin's hospitality sector. Four Seasons Hotel is certainly benefiting from a rage of successful ingredients - location, splendor and a quality team. We spoke to Byron Chong, General Manager of Four Seasons Hotel Tianjin, who is internationally noted for his expansive 20 years of excellence with Four Seasons.

Congratulations on the opening of the world-renowned Four Seasons hotel here in Tianjin. What is so attractive and special about Tianjin and the business market as well as hospitality sector here?

1. Four Seasons Hotel TianjinI think Tianjin is a tremendously interesting city and the Jing-Jin-Ji concept is really taking shape now, orchestrating new and profound development for the region and Tianjin. Beijing, as we know, is getting denser and denser and the cost of living there is also on the increase, so Tianjin is really in a prime position being so close to the capital and has a solid opportunity on a global scale. Already the aviation sector has a significant presence here as along with many other major industries and the list keeps on growing. Aside from that, Tianjin is coming 'online' as major redistributions of certain sectors, particularly higher-end sectors, are being allocated to Tianjin from Beijing. This is a significant opportunity when international and domestic companies are taking up residence in the city, impacting on the flow of people and thus the importance of Tianjin. Therefore, a long-term partnership with Tianjin is highly desirable because of all these factors.

Furthermore, the leisure sector here has a lot to offer. There is a lot to do in Tianjin and its surrounding area. Tianjin and Four Seasons Hotel Tianjin is a prime point from which to explore the historically and culturally unique place. The beautiful thing is that the cost benefit ratio can be at ease in Four Seasons Tianjin, sheer excellence is provided at a lower cost and this is something to take note of as these days the value of money is as important as ever.

The thing is "Tianjin is a city that is in the midst of becoming" and that is what is so marvelous about this place.

Four Seasons has a fantastic location here in Tianjin. How do you think this can play to your advantage?

Our position has major advantages for both those who come here on business and pleasure. For business travellers the central location is optimal for customers' business. There after sometimes your time is very limited and also for those who come to Tianjin for the first time it might be slightly confusing to grasp your bearings, yet the position of Four Seasons Hotel Tianjin really does cater for these issues. During off work hours you don't have to clamber for finding a destination since we are a stone's throw away from all the major focal points. Wu Da Dao, Ancient Culture Street or even jumping on the train to Beijing, all these choices are intimately close to Four Seasons. Shopping is also on your doorstep as you indicated; it's a true package location, really the ultimate advantage. You can't get any more central than Four Seasons Hotel Tianjin.

With so many big name competitors already present do you think demand in this sector is already being met?

Healthy competition helps all of us to improve so this should never be considered a negative aspect. Tianjin's luxury market is growing at an eye catching rate and there really is an emerging market of Chinese travellers as well as international customers that need to be remembered when we consider demand. The thing is, Chinese customers in this sector are becoming more and more sophisticated and a mass production of luxury may not be the key to these market developments. Careful and crafted personalized needs are on customer's minds. They don't want a luxury master plan which contains foresight. They want a customized environment that directly meets their individual needs. So considering this element, this is the right place, the right time for Four Seasons to be here and to bring our legendary service here, which is highly personalized and offers great value for money.

2. Cielo Italian Restaurant
What will make Four Seasons special and where do you think Four Seasons can edge ahead of its rivals?

Four Seasons Hotel Tianjin has a significant preemptive factor about itself, we anticipate. This means we aim to meet your demands before you even ask and I think this really culminates for true service class. On top of that, as you can see, the environment here is state of the art with aesthetics blending a mixture of East and West, which is visually very pleasing. These qualities blend to provide comfort and ease and great value for demand. The truth is, this is the best value Four Seasons hotel ever!

3. Hotel Lobby
Where can Four Seasons make its mark on Tianjin's tourism industry?

With Tianjin evidently becoming the bedrock of commerce in northern China, the city is really beginning to extend its reach to international events, such as trade fairs, most notable of which is Davos. This is definitely a place where our brand can play its part with local tourism package and customized concierge services. Instantly recognizable, we can prove ourselves to be the best-valued luxury hotel, as well as make a positive contribution to Tianjin's wonderful environment.

4. Premier Suite
What is your favorite aspect about working in the hotel/hospitality industry?

I've been in the hospitality sector now for around 20 years and I have to say it is meeting new people, sharing those wide ranging experiences and establishing a bond. Just to name some of the places I've been to with Four Seasons family - Hong Kong; Cairo; The Maldives; Singapore; Hawaii; Guangzhou and of course Tianjin. All of these places have enriched me with experiences.

On top of this, these factors have helped me construct my major hospitality philosophy of personalized customer care. Not only that, but the architecture of reviewing all matters along with identifying a potential problem and resolving it. It really does build character and now I can share these aspects with staff and maximize value for our guests.

5. Grand Ballroom Classroom Setup
Are there any up and coming events over the coming months at Four Seasons? What should Tianjin look out for?

Four Seasons has several things to take note of. Soon we will unveil L'Océan Spa featuring 11 treatment rooms, including luxurious couple's suites with its own private relaxation room. In addition, for those having a hard day at office, you will be able to stop off on your lunch break for the special hour pampering session to give you the boost you need.

Furthermore, at Cielo Italian restaurant, high above the city streets on the ninth floor, glass ceiling and large windows fill the space with natural light by day and this sky-lit restaurant transforms into a dramatically lit room as nightfall with cosy fireplaces and an open kitchen providing welcoming warmth. With the Michelin credentialed head chef and native of Tuscany, Iacopo Frassi, and impeccably crafted service, Cielo has taken Italian dining to new heights in Tianjin.

This is accompanied by surrounding scrumptious displays of authentic meats, cheeses and olive oils on display surrounding the bakery leading to audacious Gusto's Bar. Here, you can get your hands on clay aging cocktails, this program being one of the first of its kind in the world, as well as a whisky experience package with some of the finest brands, all designed by world-renowned Proof & Company. To indulge you more, an onsite DJ with Saxophone in hand will be performing at night from Tuesday to Sunday.

Moreover, soon to be available are our luxurious private residencies, stemming from 28th to 48th floor with a unique birds-eye view of the entire city. These dwellings are also hot on demand considering their prime location and world-class facilities on offer.


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