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Hotel insights: A manager for all seasons

Hotel insights: A manager for all seasons

I had arrived late the night before from Asia after having flown all the way from Sri Lanka.

The usual feelings of lethargy and jet lag were beginning to set in. A perfect night at an old convent in the heart of Milan’s fashion district would be just the cure.

The Four Seasons Group took over this 15th century convent and renovated and rendered it into one of Milan’s best hotels. I also had a mission to accomplish, to track down the general manager that I had been trying to meet for several years, Mauro Governato, the present general manager. I had heard good things about Mauro but never would I have imagined an encounter in such an unconventional way; allow me to explain.

Arriving in Milan from the tropics, one is never prepared for the winter cold in December. My wife was in search of stockings to cover her bare legs. After a splendid breakfast, we approached the concierge to enquire where a simple pair of tights could be had amidst the Gucci’s and Armani’s in the area. The “concierge” was approachable and informative to her requests and explained in great detail, as a father to a daughter would have, where she could procure a set. What a great concierge I thought, so approachable and not a hint of snobbery, often associated with hotels of this class.

When the time came for my interview with Mr. Governato, I was approached by the same concierge, who asked if I was Mr. Macauley. When I replied yes, he introduced himself as Mauro Governato. To me this says it all, a manager for all seasons.

Mauro will say that “This is one of my dreams come true,” to run one of Italy’s best hotels.

Governato runs the hotel as if it were his own, pitching in where he need be, hence the early morning concierge job.

He goes on to say: “I have always had a concept of running a hotel as if it was my own. I always ask myself, if this were my hotel, would I spend money to do certain things? Would I behave this way to staff? Would I hire someone new, or could I develop someone from the inside whose heart in the right place into a fantastic leader?”

According to Governato the recipe for success today is never take it for granted. A tad theatrical, Mauro divides the roles so that the hotel “show” works.

But luxury service should happen without guests knowing where it comes from, he says.

True words of wisdom and a lesson that will work well anywhere in the world, a genuine manager for “all seasons.”

All photos © Ted Macauley

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