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Four Seasons – You did it again!

Four Seasons – You did it again!

The first step in our honeymoon trip to South America was the getting married part.

To take the pressure off ourselves, and to make way for overseas guest at our home, we decided to stay at the Sydney Four Seasons arriving around midday of the big day, and spending two nights. The Four Seasons was also the closest hotel to our wedding and reception venue.

The Suite we booked.

What Room or Suite Category?

Given the possibility of a few guests returning with us to our room after the reception, we booked 2 nights in a One Bedroom Full Harbour Suite. Four Seasons does not have a loyalty/points scheme, so we paid a total of AU$2,030 for this. As you will see later, we got about AU$12,000 worth of value. Hey, it was our wedding!

Early Check-in Requested

At the time of booking – I discussed our check-in time with the hotel representative. I even asked if midday would be too early, and emphasised how important knowing the time was for us, as we wanted to get ready for a photo shoot before moving to the wedding venue. She felt that midday was not asking too much, but that the time would need to be confirmed later.

OK – for any of you who have organised a wedding, you will know that there is a shit load to do. On 10 February – a week before our stay I got an email, which I read as confirmation of our midday check-in. What do you think?

Under ‘Your Arrival’, it says ‘Confirmation’, and below that ‘Time: 12:00’ what’s not clear?

Booking and arrival time confirmed, i confirmed the photo-shoot, and went on and worried about organising the 100 other things on my check list. Rookie error?

Arrival

On the day we were running a little late (soooo much to do) and didn’t arrive at the hotel until about 1 pm. Annoyingly, although not a punishable offence, we had to wait to check-in.

The injury being added to the insult here was being told that our suite wasn’t ready, and would we like to go grab some lunch (and we were offered access to their gym/pool area, and given access to the lounge). I told them about the email, and they reiterated their policy – that rooms were allocated on a daily basis blah blah blah – heard it all before. We accepted this offer, inferring that our wait would not be long – since official check-in time is 3 pm.

Things get better – but also worse

A few minutes later, we were phoned and told that ‘a room’, if not ‘our’ room would be made available for us to change etc prior to our photo shoot. Ok, this is sounding better, but kinda worse. What does that mean about our actual suite? Will it be available at all before our wedding?

Post-lunch, returning to the hotel, we are told the occupants of our actual allocated suite have a late checkout until 4 pm but the cleaners will turn it around by 5 pm.

Two engaged, gay men are getting progressively ENRAGED.

We have a photo shoot. We need to shower and change and to be calm and in the zone for. So we take our allocated room key, and head to our temporary room, to await our luggage that we checked-in about 2 hours ago.

This is without our luggage. Maybe possible to swing a cat. With our luggage – cat has to go.

Where’s our luggage?

We wait. Half an hour, and no luggage. A phone call gets it there in another 10. The assistant Manager: Harsh Chugani calls us to check on our request for particular bedding. The conversation goes something like this:

4 Seasons: Hi I’m Harsh, the assistant manager. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to meet you at your check-in (congratulations on getting married etc) You have asked for both soft and firm bedding – I just wanted to clarify?
Me: No, I said a firm mattress with a soft topper – but its not an issue – if the bedding is similar to that in our current room that will be fine.
4 Seasons: And we will get you a cotton blanket. I hope you are enjoying your stay with us so far . . .
Me: Actually, if I can speak frankly, we are not happy. It is our wedding. We have a tight schedule of photography and other things to do prior to meeting our guests at 7:30 pm. We don’t even know if we are going to have access to the suite we booked before our ceremony. I thought we had a confirmed early check in at midday, but we have been told we can’t access our suite until at the earliest 5 pm. I’m a little exasperated.
4 Seasons: Give me a moment and I think I can make this right. I will call you back in 5 minutes.

How Four Seasons Sydney reprieved itself

In the allocated 5 minutes, Harsh calls back and says that he thinks he has a solution for us.

We are upgrading you to the Presidential Suite, and apologise for the uncertainty you have had. Are you ready to move now?

Four Seasons Duty Manager Harsh Chugani
The view from our Presidential Suite

We had just unpacked, so we asked for 5 more minutes, and within that time, Harsh, and a bellboy and luggage trolley arrived, and we were transported to the 34th floor and the Presidential Suite. A quick call to our photographer that we were running late, and a quick, though relaxed change into our wedding attire, and we were underway.

Our mood had turned from controlled anger to qualified calm – we were still running late, and therefore keeping our photographer waiting. But hey, you have to hand it to Harsh – he was well on the way to turning a sow’s ear into a silk purse. And turned AU$2,000 into about AU$12,000 worth of value! (The presidential suite comes in around AU$6,000 per night over summer.)

Not the first time

We have stayed at four seasons properties 4 or 5 times over the years, and this is the third time we have received an upgrade because something didn’t go as smoothly as it should.

Current day ‘Governor’s Suite – my memory is of more muted soft furnishings, but the Chinese plate and brass sculpture seem the same.

Four Seasons Singapore

About 10 years ago, on a layover returning from Egypt to Sydney via Singapore, we had a couple of nights at the Four Seasons Singapore on Orchard Boulevard. We arrived quite early – from memory around 7 am, and our suite-plus-room (we were travelling with my husband’s mother) was not ready – which we expected. Apologising for its unavailability, we were offered access to the gym and club. They suggested we might go shopping, and promised to ring our mobile as soon as the room was ready, which they expected to be in an hour or two.

Not even the first hour had passed, when they called, saying they thought they had a solution for us, although not what we had booked – they thought we would be pleased with the solution they would provide. That screamed ‘UPGRADE’ to me, so we returned to the hotel, and were shown to a vast two bedroom, two sitting roomed, and 14 seat dining room ‘Diplomatic Suite’ (seems now to be called the ‘Governor’s Suite’).

We were gobsmacked! And the only concern of the manager was that the room was acceptable, as it had had to be fully cleaned and refreshed as the last occupant was a smoker, and we had specifically requested a non-smoking room.

What a save Four Seasons!

The third floor entrance pond to the resort

And then it happened again in Bali, although this time a Pool was involved

Two years ago, we took a break in Bali based on a mistake deal from Qantas holidays – which they honoured. Here is my initial report of our upgrade.

Green pool turns into Royal Suite

We had been staying in a perfectly lovely villa with plunge pool when on the third day of our week-long stay, the pool turned green – a little algal bloom. We notified management and an army of engineers arrived to sort it out.

All hands on deck to remove the green from the pool

We were advised that it could take overnight to clear, so were we OK to wait until morning, or would we like to change rooms? We were OK to wait until morning.

In the morning – the pool was still green, and despite another army of engineers descending, it stubbornly stayed that way. A management representative arrived, and gave us two options:

  • We can move you immediately to a similar villa next door.
  • If you can wait for 2 hours, we will move you to the Royal Suite.
Our two-level royal suite with indoor and outdoor living spaces, multiple bedrooms, and more

Well, what would you have done?

No surprises that we opted for the Royal Suite because you need three bedrooms, servant quarters, a Bale that can seat 12 for dinner, an outdoor bar and kitchen, two lounge rooms, and an infinity pool with a view down the Ayung river.

Infinity pool that merges into the Ayung river at the Royal Suite of the Four Seasons, Sayan

We completed our stay with another three nights in the luxury of our royal suite, cursing the fact that we didn’t have 12 friends in Bali that we could invite over for dinner and share our good fortune.

Thank you Four Seasons Sydney – good save, and excellent wedding stay

So in the silk purse from sow’s ear stakes, Harsh and the Four Seasons Sydney did pretty well. They turned imminent disaster and great stress into wedded bliss.

The master bath in the Presidential Suite.

The suite with its amazing views, vast bath, and large lounge allowed us to relax post-wedding in style, as we hosted an intimate after-party of three – us husbands plus our honourary wedding advisor.

We enjoyed another relaxed day and night after that in our royal suite, before we headed home to prepare for our honeymoon. It was a great start to married life.

Great service trumps a loyalty scheme

So Four Seasons may not have a loyalty scheme, but on my experience – on three separate occasions – is that they recognise when they have not served you well, and are willing to rectify such a service slight with overwhelming generosity. And isn’t that what the hospitality industry is really about – making you feel welcomed and loved?

I value that over and above points and loyalty schemes.

A full review of the Four Seasons Sydney Presidential Suite will follow soon.

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