Dana Kalczak

By Dana Kalczak, Vice President Design

Four Seasons has placed a renewed focus on brand and design. Our new President, Global Product and Operations, Christopher Norton, is a great advocate for design excellence and quality, and we believe this is making a significant improvement in the experience of our meeting and incentive groups. To update our guests and our partners, I’ve prepared this outline of some of the exciting initiatives we have underway.

We know that our hotels are serving more multi-generational guests, particularly more young people. As a result, our design needs to evolve to provide the technology, flexibility and innovation all of our guests want.

To ensure the freshest thinking, we’ve recently reviewed the design firms we engage. We’ve significantly reduced the number of companies in order to work with only the most talented and original designers. We’re maintaining the same high quality, but with a fresh design perspective and a lot of room for creativity.

Our intention is not to standardise or make all of our properties similar. In fact, we have begun to rework our official design standards to reflect this, removing the prescriptive language and replacing it with more general requirements as they relate to the experience of our guests. The intention is to create a more open dialogue and invite innovative problem-solving to ensure that each property is given the individual attention it deserves. As always, we are committed to reflecting each destination’s local character, while elevating it with a sense of modern luxury.

These ideas are influencing our new hotels and resorts, as well as our renovations of existing properties.

Four Seasons Hotel Bogota
Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat, French Riviera

Rethinking Our Guest Rooms

Customisation has always been at the heart of what we do, and modern luxury travellers expect to direct their own experience.

In guest rooms that feel like personal sanctuaries, we’re focused on functionality and human-centred design, rather than simply following trends and designers’ whims. Not all of these elements will be included in every property, but these are the directions we are pursuing:


Sleep Temple
A beautifully designed bed emphasises the Four Seasons commitment to providing the ultimate good night’s rest. The headboard makes a strong, visually compelling statement. Elements such as flooring, cantilevered night tables, artwork and lighting can add to the drama. Of course, the quality of the bed itself is paramount. Our new customisable Four Seasons Bed offers three interchangeable options for the mattress topper: soft, signature and firm. You’ll also notice a move to fresh, all-white linens – no extra throws, pillows or bed skirts. Beds are now made in a loose manner to look full, luxurious and inviting.

We put a huge emphasis on lighting – everywhere from the closet to the shower – as it is crucial to how a guest looks and feels. Daytime lighting should maximise natural light, while night lighting should be dramatic, showcasing the bed while providing options for reading and way-finding in the dark. At the same time, full blackout is important. Window treatments must achieve a totally dark, restful room. And of course, lighting controls need to be easy to find and operate.

Technology Controls
We want to put our guests in command of their room, so we’re creating a master control for lighting, temperature and drapery, as well as signals for “do not disturb” and “make up room” – all placed within comfortable reach. Outlets and data ports should also be convenient, allowing guests to plug in their devices and work or play while snug in bed. We are working toward a proprietary Four Seasons system, consistent across all properties globally.


Media Wall
Flat-screen TVs are being integrated into an artfully composed media wall – with specially engineered insulation to ensure no sound intrusion into the adjacent room. Mounted on the wall, the TV definitely has room to grow in the future.

Activity Area and Multi-Purpose Table
The traditional desk is being reconceived as a multi-functional table that can serve as a writing surface, a games table, or a dining option. The table is portable, so it can move in front of the TV or even outside onto the balcony or terrace. This approach makes the room easier to customise.

Wind-Down Zone
Beyond just a chair and table, we’re aiming to create a multi-functional relaxation space in each guest room. This is where our guests can read, watch TV, work or dine – ideally in front of the window to maximise exposure to natural light and views. For furniture, we’re using day beds, chaises longues and sectional sofas – pieces that are flexible and movable, so guests can configure them as they wish. We are focusing on versatile tables and easy-to-reach outlets for people who want to work casually on an iPad or laptop.

This is our latest advancement of the traditional mini-bar – and it’s not so “mini” anymore! We’re envisioning a more generous space with an artfully composed presentation of coffee, tea, water and sweet and savory snacks. A shallow drawer organises coffee pods, tea bags and all the necessary tools for convenient access. Each element is purposefully selected to be as attractive as it is functional.


Our vision is to create a soothing, spa-like environment – bringing in natural light whenever possible, either through a window or an optional opening into the bedroom (that may also be closed for privacy). Artificial lighting is just as important, and it needs to be optimised for shaving and makeup. We’re also linking bathrooms to dressing rooms to create a complete grooming zone for extra ease and convenience.

Our goal is to design guest rooms that accommodate travellers in a generous, flexible way. We’re creating spaces that don’t dictate how they should be used but, instead, allow our guests to live in them as they wish. At Four Seasons, we believe that personalisation is the true essence of modern luxury.

Reshaping Our Restaurants & Bars

Our newest Four Seasons restaurants have the character of independent, free-standing venues. In many cases, we are working with top international chefs and restaurant operators. Our intention is to create restaurants that are vibrant and connected with the local community, as well as catering to the unique needs of hotel guests. Of course, smart design can help in this endeavor:


Highly Visible Venues
By making our restaurants and bars more visible, we’re not only improving food and beverage sales, we’re making guests feel more welcome – creating spaces where they want to congregate and celebrate. The recently renovated Remedy at Four Seasons Resort and Residences Vail is a great example. The original plan for the update was to leave the bar in its original location – around a corner and out of sight. But by shifting the location slightly, putting it on axis with the main entrance, we increased the presence of the bar significantly, and also increased its popularity.                

Lively Public Spaces
Creating a new focal point of energy is an important way to attract customers. A great example is the lobby at Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas, where there was originally a large sitting area that was only occasionally used by waiting guests. Now it is home to PRESS, a vibrant coffee and cocktail bar that animates the lobby, totally changing the ambiance by day and night.

Compelling New Dining Concepts
Creativity is crucial to providing entertaining and appealing hotel restaurants. At our upcoming Four Seasons Hotel Dubai International Financial Centre, we understood the need to stand out in the city’s rich restaurant landscape. So we’ve created The Diner, a fun eatery serving the comfort food people often crave while on the road, but presented with Four Seasons style.

Creating More Flexible Function Spaces

Staying at the leading edge in meetings and events is especially important to us. From a practical point of view, we design our function venues so they’re grouped in close proximity, in order to provide greater convenience, focus and functionality for attendees. We try to ensure that each space has a personality of its own, while also being flexible to allow for special décor and event setups. Windows are especially important for natural light, as well as great views that connect guests with the destination.

Here are some other ways we’re rethinking Four Seasons function spaces:


Show Kitchens
Our venues are evolving into flexible, food-focused spaces – bringing a lively restaurant atmosphere to the events and meetings we host. We are adding show kitchens to many ballrooms and meeting rooms, inspired by open-concept, high-end kitchens. These facilities can serve as live cooking stations to ensure the hottest, freshest food at banquets. They can also be used for cooking demonstrations and classes – helping event planners design experiences that are entertaining and interactive.

Outdoor Kitchens & Bars
By building outdoor show kitchens, we’re creating a new kind of function space, enhanced by the natural landscape. These permanent structures add a live cooking element that is ideal for showcasing local cuisine. Outdoor bars are another new focus. With highly creative design in a walk-up, full-service bar, we are turning mixology into a signature spectacle.

Breakaway Barista Bars
We are creating permanent barista bars to give a convenient, all-day coffee-break venue for meeting guests. The bar may be located in a pre-function space or in a shared area to service multiple meetings and guests. We may also enhance the concept to include takeaway food options and cooking stations to serve small group meals and breaks.



Four Seasons Hotel Seoul combines fascinating Old World tradition with new-wave cool to create an unparalleled level of design and comfort. With two glamourous ballrooms and 6 light-filled meeting rooms, Seoul aligns form and function with modernized Korean motifs to create a contemporary, forward-thinking piece of architecture.