Over the last few months, other than a weekend in Berlin to celebrate the 50th birthday of some awesome friends of mine, & two weekends in Shropshire, to help dad with his new laptop & attend his birthday party, I have been helping the London based sister of Lord Foley (who I met in Bangkok) with a London focused luxury project.
During the course of this I have been stunned by the help and support I have received from friends at LVMH, Mandarin Oriental, Dorchester Collection & Four Seasons.
At the same time I have been working on my future as a Banking Consultant. I have been approached about roles in Astana & Dubai but my preference is currently to be based in London, so I can continue to live in my Barbican place and better support my parents.
Complimentary Stay in a Four Seasons Executive Suite at the 'Very New' Four Seasons Hotel Sao Paulo at Nacoes Unidas: The First Four Seasons in Brazil & my First Four Seasons Executive Club Lounge - Sao Paulo, Brazil - December 2018
I stayed at Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach & Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay before they opened to the public and wanted to stay at the first Four Seasons in Brazil, when I heard about Four Seasons Hotel Sao Paulo at Nacoes Unidas while staying at Mandarin Oriental Taipei a few months ago.
When I went to Mr Sharp's private home in Toronto, when I lived in Qatar, we discussed a Rio Four Seasons. However, Sao Paulo was the choice for the first Brazil Four Seasons in the end and GM Michael Schmid kindly offered me a complimentary stay, when I asked to try it.
I travelled overnight from Punta del Este, Uruguay to experience my first Four Seasons Executive Club Lounge; take a look at Barcelona-based Ignasi Monreal's book of paintings 'Four Seasons: The Art of Hospitality'; swim in my first negative edged indoor/outdoor swimming pool and encounter Four Seasons in Brazil.
It was a bit of a disappointed that, despite the effort I made to do this, Four Seasons Hotel Sao Paulo at Nacoes Unidas did not put much thought into the welcome amenities in my suite but the Brazilian owners of the property were visiting the hotel at the same time as me, so I guess the hotel was caught a little off guard.
Just as with Four Seasons Abu Dhabi, I have decided it is unfair to 'teddy score' the Sao Paulo Four Seasons at this early stage of its development. It is impressive that the 'spirit of Four Seasons' is firmly established in Brazil, after only two months, and the issues I encountered are just a feature of any new luxury hotel. I am confident they will be addressed very quickly.
Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok: An Unbelievable Stay, Even for a Mandarin Oriental Celebrity Fan, in Their Dame Barbara Cartland Suite - Bangkok, Thailand - October 2018
Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok is one of the world's legendary great hotels. It has been open for more than 140 years & is known as the 'Grand Dame' of Bangkok. I get nervous before each stay at this iconic hotel that it will not be possible to match my last experience but my stays keep getting better, which is truly unbelievable.
This time 'new' GM Greg & legendary Guest Relations Director Mayuree waiting outside for me in the steamy Bangkok heat; I was given the Dame Barbara Cartland suite; lunch with GM Greg; the pool staff welcome me back as an old friend & even presently me with a teddy bear of their own; and a final evening drinking with senior staff from Mandarin Oriental's Head Office in Hong Kong, having spent the previous evening with a senior member of staff from Jardine Matheson, blew my stay out of the water.
Completing my 18 months in Cayman Islands gave me a chance to spend some quality time with my incredible parents, before another big adventure in. the Far East.
During my time in Shropshire my brother hosted an impressive family birthday Sunday lunch; I got to have lunch with my awe-inspiring godmother; went on a Tanners Cellar Tour with dad; visited Chester with mum & day, including lunch at The Chester Grosvenor; had lunch with a special family friend who got me thinking about Bank of Bermuda (now part of HSBC) etc; squeezed in a day in London to see the Bank of England & Annabel Shaw (Four Seasons Director of Residences Twenty Grosvenor Square - the former US Navy building) and I had drinks with friends from my Prestfelde & Shrewsbury School days. Hope the photos below help you understand what an unforgettable time I had.
🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻(7 out of 5 ‘teddies’) - spending time with my unbelievable parents is always a '7 teddy experience' but so much else during my time in Shrewsbury & London could not have been better (eg lunch with my indomitable godmother). What UK memories to take to the Far East with me.
Another James Bond Moment at The Ocean Club, A Four Seasons Resort - Paradise Island, Nassau, Bahamas - June 2018
It was more than 15 years since I last visited Bahamas, when I came on a business trip from Bermuda, and I was keen to see the place again. It was around that time that I also started visiting Cayman Islands, also on business trips. In many ways Cayman Islands is a different place and so I was keen to see Bahamas again.
The One & Only in Bahamas becoming a Four Seasons in 2017 was the perfect excuse and learning the 2006 remake of Casino Royale was filmed there made me even more excited.
John Kentish-Barnes from Four Seasons at Park Lane was now the hotel Manager, while John Conway is still the General Manager, and so I knew I was going to have a memorable stay. However, the genuine warmth of the Bahamian staff blew me away. The word 'paradise' is sometimes overused but I think The Ocean Club, a Four Seasons Resort - Bahamas, and their extraordinary staff, truly deserve this description.
'Last' Night in London in an Exquisite Westminster Suite at Four Seasons at Park Lane - London, UK - April 2018
I was nervous about staying at Four Seasons at Park Lane so soon after legendary GM John had left. However, Manager Mali ensured it was another memorable stay in opulent surroundings with exemplary Four Seasons staff.
It was just a pity I did not get to meet new GM Lynn, as she was not yet in place. However, I did leave a #travelblog www.sifrew.com. baseball cap for her.
Four Seasons at Park Lane remains one of the best Four Seasons in the group and a hotel Mr Sharp can still be justly proud of.
A Cold But Awesome Further Stay at Four Seasons New York Downtown, in an Executive Suite, for New Year - New York - December 2017 - January 2018
For my 16th New Year stay with Four Seasons in New York, I booked the Four Seasons New York Downtown again.
This was my third stay at this hotel and I was so pleased I did. They gave me a beautiful suite with train set, Veuve Clicquot champagne on ice, a cashmere Four Seasons hat to keep me warm and even left hot chocolate for Issy.
When I arrived Steven (Director of Rooms) greeted me before I even said my name and I immediately knew this was going to be an epic New Year stay.
Divine Christmas Stay in a Deluxe One Bedroom Suite at Four Seasons at Park Lane, London, UK - December 2017
I have an incredible history with Four Seasons at Park Lane. I first stayed there as part of a Paris, New York and London Four Seasons 'themed' trip from Qatar. It had not been refurbished at that stage and I wrote to Mr Sharp (Founder & Chairman) saying it should not be part of Four Seasons. He wrote back 'agreeing' and it shut down shortly after!
I then stayed there again after the refurbishment, when they left Sichuan pepper and Parmesan popcorn in my suite, relating to an 'incident' three years before.
The service & attention to detail in this uber luxurious Four Seasons is legendary and I knew I must stay there on this Christmas trip to wish Four Seasons star GM John congratulations on his 35 years with Four Seasons.
I was so glad I did. My suite, with a working fireplace, took my breath away and everything about the stay was beyond perfection. An incredible way to end Christmas before flying back to Cayman Islands for a night before Four Seasons New York Downtown again for New Year.
I visited Four Seasons, Ten Trinity Square in London on the first day it opened, and have been shown their private members' club and residencies, and they had been storing Veuve Clicquot I did not want to take to Cayman Islands for 8 months. This was, therefore, the natural choice for my first hotel of Christmas 2017.
I wanted it to be a special start to Christmas and Four Seasons, Ten Trinity Square exceeded my expectations by far. It truly is a 'seven teddy' hotel now.
I am thrilled that Four Seasons Ten Trinity Square has opened in the City of London.
It is based in the impressive 1922 former Port of London Authority building designed by Sir Edwin Cooper and has been redeveloped by Chinese Reignwood Group. This is the building the inaugural meeting of the United Nations was held in in 1946 and it also appeared in the James Bond movie Skyfall.
Its location by the Tower of London means that, just as when I lived in Qatar for almost 10 years, I can walk from my Barbican home to a Four Seasons.
When I said I was travelling through London after my GCC Tour, John (GM of Four Seasons Park Lane) generously offered use of their 'Early Morning Arrivals Suites', so I could have a shower.
In the end I had a shower; got a delicious light breakfast; rested for a few hours while admiring the views of London from the spa at the top of the Park Lane Four Seasons; got my iPhone6 recharged; and gained a new member of the 'gang'.
I cannot thank John, & his brilliant staff, enough for all they did for me that morning.
🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻 (7 out of 5 ‘teddies’) - John Stauss is definitely another 7 'teddy' Four Seasons GM and his opulent London hotel, with its friendly & helpful staff, fully deserve this top rating too.
Four Seasons Bahrain Bay's 'First Customer' returns for a Third Stay in a State Suite - Manama, Bahrain - May 2016
I first stayed in Four Seasons Bahrain Bay before it was open to the public & officially became their 'first customer'. I have stayed there again since and decided a third stay had to end my GCC Tour.
Greg (the General Manager) & Bob (the Manager) feel like old friends now and the hotel has gone from strength to strength over the 15 months since it opened.
Four Seasons Bahrain Bay now exemplifies the best of Four Seasons in terms of service, F&B & facilities and I am so proud to be known as its 'first customer'.
Having known GM Sam from my stays at Four Seasons New York and Baku, I had to stay at Four Seasons Abu Dhabi, despite it only opening around the time when my GCC Tour started.
I arrived for a one night stay only 10 days after the hotel had opened, with less than 1/2 the rooms/suites ready for occupancy. I have, therefore, decided it is unfair to 'teddy rate' this hotel at this time, despite my memorably brilliant stay.
Sam is a 7 'teddy' GM, with an excellent management team in Abu Dhabi & I know this hotel will reach the 7 'teddy' score in time.
Having adored my stays in the Four Seasons Dubai at Jumeirah Beach, one before it was open to the public, after my coffee at Mr Sharp's Toronto home, I decided I must stay at Four Seasons' second Dubai hotel.
Friends in Qatar had said this boutique-style 106 room/suite hotel was "too small". However, I agree with their GM Carlo that it is a jewel. It reminds me of Four Seasons' Berlin hotel (now a Regent). The DIFC hotel has some of the same smaller Four Seasons magic that this Berlin hotel had.
Veuve Clicquot @ Four Seasons, Dubai, Jumeirah Beach with Mr Casson - what www.sifrew.com's dreams are made of - Dubai, UAE - May 2016
I know Simon Casson from when he was General Manager of the Doha Four Seasons & have stayed at his Jumeirah Beach Four Seasons hotel in Dubai twice already. Once before it was open to the public, after my coffee with Mr Sharp at his home in Toronto.
I was thrilled when Mr Casson said he had time for a drink with me and rushed straight from Dubai airport for this. I was so glad I did. He is one of my favourite Four Seasons GMs and is always so much fun to catch up with.
I lived in Qatar for more than 9 years & was a 'founding' member of the Doha Four Seasons' spa. I, therefore, had to make this hotel, & seeing my incredible Qatar based friends, part of my GCC Tour.
I was so glad I did. It was a perfect way to 'close my relationship with Qatar'.
Today I let Mr Sharp (Founder & Chairman of Four Seasons) know I have decided not to let my issues at Four Seasons New York at New Year wreck www.sifrew.com and my special relationship with Four Seasons.
A huge weight off my mind.
I have been beavering away on #travelblog www.sifrew.com, getting increasing interest from places I have featured (eg Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Bali Cambodia etc); countries where I have many friends (eg the UK, US, Qatar, Australia, UAE, Germany, Bermuda etc); Canada - where Four Seasons has its Head Office - and countries that find my luxury travel subject matter interesting (eg Taiwan, Russia etc).
In the course of all this 'Noir: Dining in the Dark' in Saigon have featured my review of their restaurant on their website and Raffles & Four Seasons hotels have asked permission to use my images in their promotional campaigns.
New York screams New Year and so, despite all my travel in the last few months, I booked Four Seasons New York to see in the New Year in perfect style.
I had wanted to visit Four Seasons Hampshire since friends in Qatar told me about their stays there a few years ago.
Issy had his Santa outfit made by Four Seasons Sayan and the mother of my godson lives only 30 minutes from the hotel.
When I first saw pictures of Four Seasons, Sayan, in a magazine while working in Qatar, I thought it was an artist's impression of a fantasy hotel.
It was, therefore, a dream come true to stay there and have a Veuve Clicquot party held in my honour on the Four Seasons Bali 'space ship' roof.
Bali is another destination I last visited in the 1980s and I wondered how spiritual Bali had changed, with all that has happened since then.
My stay at Four Seasons, Jimbaran Bay demonstrated that the incredible beautiful spirit of Bali lives on.
Lung King Heen is the first Chinese restaurant to be awarded three Michelin stars and was the Four Seasons restaurant Mr Sharp told me I must eat in. I knew this would be an epic dinner.
As soon as Christoph, former General Manager of the New York Four Seasons, said he was moving to Hong Kong, I vowed to stay at his new hotel. Then I had coffee with Mr Sharp (Founder of Four Seasons) at his Toronto home and he mentioned that I must stay at Four Seasons Hong Kong, to try food from the only Cantonese restaurant in Hong Kong to be awarded three Michelin stars. On my way to Four Seasons Bali the chance to stay at the hotel came up and I had very high expectations.
I was last in Koh Samui in the 1980s, staying in a hut on Big Buddha Beach, before Four Seasons, Banyan Tree etc arrived on this tropical paradise and it had always been a dream to return. The Four Seasons Mercedes was waiting for me at the airport with flower garlands and they had sparkling wine for me and juice, and a baby seat, for Issy.
Si Frew has lived in the UK, Bermuda, Qatar, Cyprus & the Cayman Islands. During this time he met Whoopi Goldberg (in Claridge's), Mike Tyson (in the Concorde Lounge at JFK) , Gordon Ramsay (in the Doha Four Seasons), Chris Eubanks (in The Dorchester), Cherie Blair (in Bermuda & again in the Doha Four Seasons) etc. There are funny stories attached to all these interactions, feel free to ask Si about them when you meet him.