The Mark Wine News Summer '18 Volume 8.3 - Page 9

u n c o r k e d Ocean Club on Paradise Island in the Bahamas brings Jean-George into the fold as well. His DUNE restaurant is wildly successful at the very upscale resort. Both chefs play into the big picture. “What we are focused on right now with food and beverage is seeing what’s relevant. We’ve come to understand that when a hotel exists in a community we need to be a very welcoming environment. We are not up against other hotels. Our competition is all the stand-alone restaurants and bars. We approach all our properties very individually. That all factors in when we renovate a restaurant or bar. I am focused on that space. It’s where I spend 80% of my time. And a lot of our owners are interested in working with celebrity chefs. They look at it as they are getting two brands in one.” I was curious about our local Four Seasons in Austin, which is undergoing a serious renovation and Fiala was very excited to share the plans. “Whole concept renovation,” he said, “we approach all our properties very individually.” He also regaled me with a little romance into what he sees as a fabulous example of a Four Seasons. “Just recently, my wife and I were able to get away to Paris for a week at the George V.” Yes no kids. “And I immediately thought this is a fabulous example of a Four Seasons Hotel. There are three restaurants in the hotel with a combined 5 Michelin Stars. The George V is more about community than it is guests. And that’s what our focus is: community.” Fiala lives in Connecticut with his wife Katie and their three sons; Jack’s fifteen, Alex is twelve and Harry’s ten. And the boy thing totally runs in his family. “I grew up with two brothers and the boys even extends to all my cousins and nephews; 20 boys and 1 girl.” However on Katie’s side girls rule. She has three sisters. Katie is into Four Seasons Hotel Room in Lanai, Hawaii SUMMER 2018 Cigar Patio at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles yoga, but Paul’s time off is definitely more rare. “I spend most of my time, weekdays, weekends, in our hotels or on the road.” When he is home, it’s all about fields and rivers. “Between weekend long regatta’s, Lacrosse games and baseball games, it’s family first.” And at the regatta club, it’s often more work than play, “The organizers know I cook so they always tap into my culinary skills and typically I am cooking two days of food for 200 people.” Which taps back to his early days as a chef. It goes without saying that the Four Seasons properties are kind of in a different league from most. “When I first took the job I was kind of intimidated,” says Fiala. “It’s the Four Seasons, I mean, it’s intimidating,” he adds. But he arrived with many years in the business and was ready for the challenge and the experience. “What I bring is a fresh perspective in restaurants and bars, but also expertise in working with chefs. Four Seasons is progressive but it’s also a history rich company. I have been so impressed with the level of talent with culinary, but even more so with beverage,” he says. But it has also meant some changes in the beverage program. For one, it has meant pulling in the reins. “I want to have wines the Somm’s welcome on their properties. Instead of going wide, I’ve spent the last year and a half reducing the beverage program. We’ve eliminated about 25 selections” he adds, “and it was from a fairly conservative list to start.” Quality over quantity is the mantra and Fiala believes it’s the best system moving forward. “I don’t ever want to stifle our teams but I do cherry pick the best products out there that should be introduced. I want a program that all the talent can run with.” And that’s exactly the program he is spearheading. His only question now; “Where do I go from here? I mean it’s the Four Seasons.” Retirement? With 21 Four Seasons hotels and resorts across the Americas awarded the AAA Five Diamond rating this year, he may just be right. 7