On the second day of the inaugural of the Mont Blanc Spa at one of Europe’s finest luxury hotels, the Four Seasons Hotel de Bergues in Geneva, we had the privilige to interview, exclusively, Jose Silva, the hotel General Manager. A Four Seasons veteran, Portuguese born Silva is a rare luxury hotelier with an exceptional background in architecture and interior design, which he perfectly blends with impeccable hotel management skills.
Four years in the making, the Mont Blanc Spa at the heritage palace hotel, the Four Seasons de Bergues, has been the perfect challenge for Silva to maximize space, create an ideal flow but also to redefine how luxury urban Spas are conceived nowadays. Overcoming technical and construction challenges of building a three floor Spa on the roof-top of a historical building, the new Mont Blanc Spa has become an instant reference for luxury Spas not only in Switzerland but the world.
We sat in an exquisit salon with a glass ceiling and an impressive chandelier which enhanced daylight – a feature which defines most areas of the Spa. ‘I don’t like the word urban Spa or destination Spa. My idea was to create a space where hotel guests and visitors could spend an entire day, feeling as if they were not away from home’. He added: ‘We are now in the Library of the Spa where people can pick up and read a book from a carefully curated library set, work on their iPad or simply enjoy a relaxing moment while having a drink or a light meal. I believe that people no longer want dark waiting areas or longes in a Spa – we do have one (relaxation area) but rather an alternative which provides them with complete freedom on deciding whether they wish to feel energized or relaxed.”
I could not help but notice the incredible use of space – for a relatively small surface, the new Mont Blanc Spa features a generous pool area with separate heated swimming pool, vitality pool and chaiselongs from where to gaze at the city; separate hammams for men and women, a hair and nail salon, several treatment rooms, a Japanese Restaurant, an outdoor terrace, a library and a large waiting area.
The quality of the materials and finishes is second to none – from the finest Turkish marble in the hammam to the wooden walls and every single furniture piece – leather Poltrona Frau custom made armchairs in the Library, cutting edge contemporary design Gucci chairs in the waiting area etc. To understand the level of attention and thought before each detail, Jose showed me how the hair salon mirror wall could actually fold up and turn into an elegant wardrobe. Then, there were abundant details which emerged from Jose’s idea that Spa guest, whatever their age, nationality or culture, would yearn for privacy – from constructing an elevator to the way lockers are placed.
Another WOW element of surprise was the Spa reception, which has been reduced to a small corner, thus providing additional space for the lobby / arrival and waiting. Retail has also been carefully placed in a walk in wardrobe-like space, concealing the usual commercial look of the retail in Spa which can, sometimes, be overwhelming.
Understanding Jose’s immense passion to serve and provide a unique experience has been key to understanding his innovative approach. To sum up his vision of the future generation of luxury Spas he said ”Our regular hotel guests don’t eat every day in our restaurant but they will certainly be able to enjoy quality time, whether alone on a business trip or with family and friends on a leisure trip”. To emphasize the social gathering aspect of the Spa, Jose pointed out ‘You see, we are standing in the arrival area – waiting area and purposely, one can look up and see people enjoying our music and food upstairs. It will be an exhilirating experience which will entice people to return, for the most diverse reasons.
Oliver Petcu in Geneva
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