18 OCT 2018: Has customer service gone missing in practice? Who hasn’t encountered a snarly store clerk or someone who is supposed to service you but instead is feeding their addiction to Facebook or Instagram. Has a smile to a customer been replaced with a frown or attitude of “Don’t bother me?” Is an offer to help, “How can I assist you?” still in fashion? Thankfully there are service, travel and hospitality professionals and companies who still adhere to the principles of providing excellent customer service. Four Seasons Hotel and Resorts is one of them.

Isadore Sharp or Issy as he is known, is the founder and chairman of Four Seasons. It was humble beginnings when he was in his 20’s. IN 1961, with the help of his father and friends, Sharp opened up a motor hotel, in downtown Toronto.

It was a modest hotel at that time but its core principle remains today at the hotel, resort and residence empire on six continents. Sharp said, “We opened our first hotel with a simple principle: treating every customer as our special guest.” He added, “The reason for our success is no secret. It’s the Golden Rule – the simple idea that we should treat others the way we would want to be treated.”

URBAN RENEWAL

Needing a customer service fix as well as satisfying my spa addiction I decided to see if I could get both at the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto’s spa. Located on the hotel’s 9th floor, the expansive 30,000 square foot spa was renovated in spring 2018. The principal focus of the renovation was the first point of contact between spa personnel and the customer – the reception area.

Now many may wonder what the big deal is about a reception area. Previously the popular spa had traffic issues during busy times as hotel guests, residents, and spa guests accessed from different entry points. Because there was only one place to line up to be serviced or directed at times there was a logjam. Not ideal for a spa trying to create a serene environment.

The reception area has now been opened up and reception personnel can assist people from any point of entry. No long line-ups and the design creates an open, calmer and more welcoming atmosphere with warm, elegant accents in the furnishings and lighting.

TRANSFORMATIVE THERAPIES

Every spa wants to create a certain environment and for Victoria Nickle, Four Seasons Senior Spa Director for The Americas, she wants spa guest to feel a “moment of solace” and to “see transformation.” She knows the spa has done its job when a guest sinks into a plush sofa drinking a tea and oblivious to the world around them. Nickle says the spa should be a “calming experience.”

The spacious facilities, with 17 treatment rooms, two steam rooms, relaxation lounges, pool with city views, whirlpool, hair salon and mani-pedi area, still exude a feeling of warmth and coziness. The soft charcoal gray tones, bamboo accents, flashes of emerald make it very inviting – you are entering the tranquility zone.

Despite its ultra luxury reputation there is an important distinction of Four Seasons – service that is friendly, professional and genuine – signs of pretension and snobbishness are not allowed. Simple, refined elegance at its best.

TORONTO IN THE LIMELIGHT

The spa is extremely popular not only with guests but locals as well. A perusal of the spa menu reflects this with Toronto references to treatments like the Rosedale Reflexology.

For my treatments, with a nod to entertainer Drake who helped coin the term, the 6ix, I’m having the 6ix Facial followed by a Himalayan Salt Stone Massage.

The 6ix facial is designed for the male clientele. A man’s face is certainly different than a woman’s face. The Four Seasons spa uses skincare products from Budapest based Omorovicza. (Budapest having a centuries old spa and healing waters tradition) - they also carry specific products for men. Applying these key products and hopefully transforming my face was under the tutelage of my esthetician Julia.

This six-step facial enhances the skin’s natural defence system from all those nasty city toxins and urban stresses. It involves a double cleanse, buffing, extractions, a customized hydrating mask and a rich moisturizer massaged into the skin.

My favourite part was the two blue dermaglobes – basically smooth orbs that Julia slowly massaged into my cheek and around the eye area. The rose crystal-filled orbs help bring fresh vitality to the eye area. My eyes, when I don’t get enough sleep, could be accused of carrying excess baggage!

Following my very relaxing facial where I almost fell asleep it was time for a deeper state of relaxation with a Himalayan Salt Stone Massage.

Himalayan crystal salt is the gold standard of salt. It is the purest and has the most benefits of all salts with up to 84 trace minerals and elements – this is one salt you want to keep and not pass! Sara, my therapist, was going to use this salt compound to eliminate those toxins infiltrating my body and bring it to a new vitality. Unfortunately, Sara can’t work miracles and eliminate my layers of fat.

As each of Sara’s rhythmic and smooth strokes I descended into a deeper slumber only to be awakened when she needed to do some extra pressure and the occasional pull and stretch to loosen up those nasty knots embedded in my neck and shoulder area.

Cocooned in the warmth of my plush robe after the two treatments I could have spent days there at the spa and sampled other enticing treatments like the Coffee and Maple Sugar Scrub, Island Body Wrap, Elemental Massage, cupping, or Rosedale Reflexology.

Life beckoned, and I reluctantly got dressed but now better equipped to meet the urban and work stresses. I felt cleansed, invigorated and relaxed.

The bonus? Experiencing excellent customer service with the right measure of aplomb, professionalism and friendliness. At Four Seasons spa it’s service with a touch.

For more info: https://www.fourseasons.com/toronto/spa/

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Chris Ryall

An industry insider with strong, outspoken opinions that readers enjoy, whether they agree, or take issue with his point of view.

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