Four Seasons celebrates 10 years in Canary Wharf

By Simon Hayes on November 5, 2009 10:53 AM |

bb-nov5-michael purtill3.jpgRunning one of the top hotels in London is a tough job and Michael Purtill is the man who has to do it.

Michael is general manager of the Four Seasons, by Westferry Circus, the first luxury hotel in Canary Wharf, which opened on December 16, 1999.

The five star operation has weathered the credit crunch and Michael is looking forward to another decade serving visitors to the area.

The Wharf spoke to the 43-year-old to find out more about they cater to the whims of some of the most demanding guests imaginable.

He said: "Our success is based on understanding our guests and their needs and treating everyone as an individual. We have a very strong team here and can adjust to deal with every need, whether it's business, pleasure, a wedding or anything else.

"Of course, we do make mistakes so it's about making it right and working out how to put it right. Every guest needs to feel happy when they leave so they will come back. Repeat business is very important."

That attention to detail has been very important this year, as Michael admitted.

He said: "2009 has been a tough year and we'll be glad to see the back of it. Business has been down but it's started to pick up again recently, which is encouraging.

"The Michael Jackson shows at The O2 were going to be very big for the hotels in Canary Wharf. His death was a very sad story for so many reasons, but it has had a big impact on us."

bb-nov5-4seasons2.jpgThe Four Seasons accommodates many of the big stars from The O2 but Hotel Babylon it ain't, with discretion the watchword.

He said: "We do get a lot of A-listers and we have to be discreet with them. We have a special entrance for them and a lift that takes them up to the Presidential Suite, where most of them stay.

"It's important to most of them that we protect their anonymity, but then that's something we do for all our guests."

Michael oversees 20 separate departments in the hotel, ranging from catering to cleaning. To ensure a smooth operation he holds a daily planning meeting with department heads to discuss guests' needs.

He said: "We do get a lot of odd requests, such as people specifying the temperature they want their room to be at when they arrive, what type of soap they want in their bathroom or even if they want a particular snack left in their bedroom.

"Our business is to ensure guests get their specific requirements. It's all in the planning and having the mindset to meet those needs. Luckily it doesn't give me sleepless nights as I know I've got a very good team here."

There have been big changes in the 10 years the Four Seasons has been open and Michael is excited about the prospects for the future.

He said: "It's been quite a journey since this hotel was built. There were no shopping malls in Canary Wharf then, very few of the big towers and the Jubilee line had only been open for a couple of months. Things have been transformed around here, there's a real community now.

"The future is looking really good. The Olympics is giving fresh impetus to east London and we're already fully booked for that. Wood Wharf and the Canary Riverside developments are going to bring even more people here.

"These are very exciting times and I'm delighted the Four Seasons is going to be right at the heart of it."

Four Seasons Facts and Figures:

Since opening in 1999 the Four Seasons has racked up some staggering figures, including:

Washing an estimated 3.9million plates

Polishing 36,000 pairs of shoes

Delivering 290,000 wake up calls

Every year the hotel gets through:

16,000 toilet rolls

1,800 kilos of soap

And washes 65,000 towels.