It’s been almost a year since Belgian-born hotelier Tom Roelens signed up as Four Seasons Hotel Kuala Lumpur’s employee number one. After a year of recruitment, hard work and planning, the general manager of the hotel is excited to be finally at the front line to welcome guests for the first time on July 1. Here, he shares five behind-the-scenes insights about the highly-anticipated five-star property set to shake up the local hospitality scene.

1. Malaysian pride

The first thing that will catch your eye upon arrival at Four Seasons Hotel Kuala Lumpur is a sculpture inspired by local flowers. Once you check in to your room, you will chance upon artworks by local artists adorning its walls. “Even the air-conditioning grills in our rooms are modelled after the geometric patterns found on the roofs of Malay-style homes,” says Tom. 

Similarly, an art installation designed after hibiscus petals dangles from the ceiling of CurATE, the hotel’s all-day dining restaurant. “These references serve to remind our guests that they are in Malaysia—a place rich with so much culture and tradition,” adds the hotel's general manager.

2. Localised concepts and experiences

“Did you know that Malaysia is home to a species of stingless bees under the trigona genus—which makes a special type of honey called the kelulut?” Tom dishes out this trivia during our interview in reference to the name of the hotel's in-house bar, Bar Trigona. In fact, the bar's logo is depicted in an art deco-styled motif of the aforementioned trigona bee.

In tribute to this localised concept, Tom shares that Bar Trigona will embrace local fruits, herbs and ingredients, including the kelulut, into its menu of handcrafted cocktails. He admits the execution of the idea required a lot of contemplation, discussion and legwork beforehand—an investment that is necessary to reinforce the message that the hotel is at a class of its own.

3. Luxury under one roof

Before he accepted the role as general manager of Four Seasons Kuala Lumpur, Tom served for a decade at Four Seasons Lanai in Hawaii. Although his loved ones questioned why he would pack up his bags and leave an idyllic paradise behind, Tom shared he is eager to take on a new challenge in his career.

In his current role, he is responsible for managing three major components of the brand's properties under one building: hotel, serviced apartments and private residences. He is also involved in overseeing six restaurants managed under Four Seasons, including the exquisite Cantonese restaurant, Yun House. Characterised by its breathtaking view over KLCC park, modern chinoiserie décor and refined cuisine by Chef Jimmy Wong, Tom emphasised that Yun House is created for the local community in mind—and not just a business traveller.

“Ultimately, it is an iconic and complex project for Four Seasons. There's many facets involved. While we don’t manage the shopping experience at Shoppes, it certainly adds to the convenience of our guests from a retail standpoint. You really have everything under one roof,” he says.

4. Intuitive service

Tom’s ideal of perfect hospitality involves training his staff to anticipate a guest's needs by “not just one step ahead, but several steps”. "For example, the needs of a business traveller would be different than a family vacationer with two or three kids in tow," he says. 

While he believes in instiling the importance of core values of the Four Seasons' hospitality into his staff, Tom asserts that empowering his team to make decisions for themselves is essential in creating authentic, intuitive service. “The true magic happens when you step back as a GM and let your staff do what they think is best for the guests. You have to trust them,” he says.

5. Digitised details for your comfort

In addition to the property’s luxe factor and refined service synonymous with the brand's standing as a five-star brand, Tom also reveals another Four Seasons specialty will be rolling out in its Kuala Lumpur outpost—the integration of advanced tech-driven details, tailored to your needs.

He then emphasised that this service goes beyond programming your airconditioning to memorise your preferred room temperature or having your television greeting you by name once you enter your room.

A unique tech feature that Four Seasons provide is its own chat feature that connects you to the hotel service team in real time—helpful if you want privacy during your stay and want to limit your contact with the service team face-to-face. This chat service feature is available in over 100 languages worldwide. “Striving for perfection is our mantra—so a little help from technology goes a long way,” says Tom.

(Photos: Four Seasons KL)

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