The best of the best hotels make you feel warmly welcomed wherever you are in the world. Paramount are attractive accommodations, culinary kudos, pampering service and polished staff. That should happily be enough. But Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts leaps a mile higher by enthusiastically crafting private, unique and extraordinary guest adventures, excursions and diversions that stretch your horizons further. You can enjoy your stay and play in ways not headlined by other hotels. These memorable site-specific Four Seasons’ experiences are often led by accomplished experts in their field and sometimes take place at UNESCO Heritage treasures. Here, six prime pleasures:
Delight in a dramatic view of Prague from aboard an elegant, wooden, hand-crafted boat — owned by the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel Prague — that journeys for a one-hour guided outing on the Vltava River. Navigated by Stepan Rusnak, who has a doctorate degree in anthropology, the vessel can be rented for a private tour or guests can choose to join scheduled morning or afternoon rides for up to 12 people. Picnic baskets of refreshments are prepared by the hotel’s kitchen team. “For me, Prague is the most beautiful city in the world,” says Rusnak. “Every cruise discovers new perspectives and new connections. I fell in love with Prague and I love to reveal her charms to guests.” Floating past baroque buildings, Gothic churches and the famed pedestrian Charles Bridge (constructed from 1357 to 1402 and lined with statues of Catholic saints), affable Rusnak shares fascinating stories about this City of a Hundred Spires: its history, architecture and music. Prague’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Via the vessel’s sound system, Rusnak softly plays evocative pieces by Czech composers as well as other notable artists who have spent creative time in Prague: Antonín Dvořák, Bedřich Smetana, Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Frédéric Chopin. Adds the hotel’s Chief Concierge Petr Zezula: “For the fourth year in a row, our guests can see the city from a whole new angle and take breathtaking photos throughout the ride.” Rusnak’s passengers have hailed from all over the world. Recently, Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones embarked on the craft for an enchanting voyage.
Steps away from Manhattan’s bustling Battery Park, Wall Street and One World Trade Center, the stylish New York Downtown Four Seasons hotel is a sublime oasis nestled in a soaring tower designed by famed architect Robert A.M. Stern. Its guest-nourishing distinction showcases the perhaps unexpected yet popularly cherished Resident Healers Program, which features three women who are leaders in New York City’s wellness community: Snow Shimazu, who focuses on travel wellness and is an advanced bodywork educator (creator of Air Beautiful); Deganit Nuur, who is an acupuncturist, intuitive, herbalist and spiritual teacher (developer of The Nuurvana Method); and Rashia Bell, who is a crystal healer and meditation expert (co-founder of The Cristalline). Their goals are to show guests how to achieve physical and mental strength, encouraging their potential and overall personal fulfillment. “Our spa is not just about treatments, but really about wellness and connectivity,” explains General Manager Thomas Carreras. “We believe in being different and redefining wellness, making it a lifestyle rather than a one-time pampering.” Adds Spa Director Tara Cruz: “Much like this colorful city, we unite influential cultures and remedies from around the world to create a haven of beauty and wellness. Our healers and offerings are what we feel New York City represents: diversity, individuality and true authenticity. Guests may be sleep-deprived, overworked, jet-lagged, tech-obsessed, but just don’t always know where to start seeking wellness results. It is special to see them feeling enlightened. I have seen guests walk out a bit lighter, some even with joyful tears of clarity. It is quite moving. All sessions provide a one-of-a-kind experience that creates a sense of balance and understanding. Arrive with an open mind, open heart and be prepared to leave feeling empowered and renewed.” The hotel’s state-of-the-art fitness center is energizing, as well. At the restorative, full-service Spa, Dr. Pauline Burgener of Switzerland formulates skin treatments and natural cosmetic products with advanced Swiss technology for guests’ individual needs.
This magnifique Mediterranean property — scented with fragrant gardens brimming with bougainvillea, hibiscus, rosebay and westringia — exudes glamour and timeless chic. Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, A Four Seasons Hotel celebrates joie de vivre and alfresco meals. Explains its Michelin-starred Chef Yoric Tièche: “Picnics have always been a tradition in my family. Ever since I was a child, I was in charge of preparing the basket. When you’re blessed to be living in such a beautiful region you really want to be outside as much as possible, and that’s why I introduced the new picnic baskets so that our guests may experience the beauty of the French Riviera while getting a taste of very local foods.” Tièche’s treats include pissaladière (thin pizza-like crust topped with caramelized onions and usually olives, anchovies and fresh herbs), salade Niçoise and seasonal fruit tartlets paired with a bottle of rosé wine from area producers such as Château Miraval, Château Font du Broc and Domaine de Terrebrune, which are chosen by the hotel’s Head Sommelier Joël Rolland.
Savor serene steps through Bali’s countryside of terraced rice fields and jungles lush with palm and banana trees during the “Day in the Life of a Balinese Rice Farmer” signature experience of Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan. First, trek in the early morning with an informative guide through Indonesia’s picturesque Ayung Valley, then stroll through the village of Sayan as it is waking up. Return to the resort, where a Balinese breakfast is served in a riverside rice field pavilion, called a bale. A Balinese rice farmer explains fine points of planting, growing and harvesting. Roll up your pants and plant rice in paddies on the resort’s grounds, too. Afterward, quench your thirst with coconut water directly out of its just-cut-open natural source. Then, retire to a villa of Sacred River Spa to be guided by a therapist through a bathing ritual and soak, thereafter reclining for a soothing Balinese massage. Relaxed and recharged, taste nasi campur, a traditional farmer’s lunch: scoop of nasi putih (white rice) accompanied by small portions of other foods, such as egg, meats, peanuts, shrimp and vegetables.
Does the thrill of steering a vintage car — 1956 Porsche 356A Speedster, 1958 Mercedes-Benz 190SL Cabrio or 1960 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider — through Italy giddily race your heart? Then get ready to make a fantasy come true on “La Dolce Vita Road Trip.” At the Four Seasons Hotel Milan (as well as at two other Four Seasons’ properties), the concierge will customize your dream itinerary, recommending ideal stops en route — as a dedicated Four Seasons-arranged driver follows separately behind you in a modern-day car, attending to your on-the-go arrangements: restaurant reservations, hideaway shops, landmark scoping, museum tickets, valet parking, roadside assistance. Consider zipping to Modena to sample one of Italy’s top balsamic vinegars. Meander the mesmerizing markets of Monaco. Be dazzled by Florence’s art museums and Duomo. The bespoke course is yours to envision and the Four Seasons’ logistics pros to make a reality.
Begin at the historic Four Seasons Hotel Florence — with its sumptuous, statue-and-fountain-flourished 11-acre garden, then, via round-trip car transfers, rollick for a few days in the nearby bucolic countryside at the “Table-to-Farm” getaway, sharing hours with family at the Fattoria San Michele, a farm estate owned by Paolo Nocentini in the Chianti region. Activities are influenced by the seasons. Collect freshly laid chicken eggs. Feed the renowned Cinta Senese pig (raised only in Tuscany). Rejoice among the 135-acre vineyard, from which Chianti wine is produced. Nose around the wine cellar, learning about vintner tasks and accomplishments. In autumn, when olive trees are harvested from another 100 acres, guests may engage in olive gathering and the extraction of oil at the farm’s mill. Organic honey and organic chickpeas are also grown here. Nocentini is a dedicated ambassador for inspiring connections between people and land, demonstrating the importance of agriculture and organic methods, promoting healthy choices and respect for the environment. During your stay, relish locally grown products during lingering lunches, featuring such delectables as fettunta (grilled bread rubbed with extra-virgin olive oil), farm-made pasta, cantucci (biscotti: crunchy almond biscuits) and vin santo (a sweet dessert wine). Salute! Cin cin! Ciao!