You can say that Michael Mestraud knows how to live. From the Grand Tetons in Jackson Hole, WY, to trendy Santa Barbara, CA, and the Pacific Ocean paradise of Bora Bora, there is no doubt Mestraud certainly knows about some of the world’s great destinations. Perhaps more important, he knows how to work them.
Mestraud’s stops in the high-end locales, understand, weren’t just for sight-seeing. He is one of the top “boots on the ground” managers for The Four Seasons brand. That is, when The Four Seasons is opening a new hotel or resort, or needs a boost at an already existing property, chances are good that Mestraud will get the call to be part of the leadership team.
The most recent call came earlier this year for Mestraud to move from his position as general manager of The Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole to The Four Seasons Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo, a 181-room property that will re-open in December following a $35 million “re-imagination.”
Prior to the Costa Rica and Jackson Hole assignments, Mestraud served as resort manager of Four Seasons Resort Biltmore Santa Barbara, and director of food and beverage at Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora. Previous management experience includes roles at the Four Seasons Resort Provence at Terre Blanche, Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris and Four Seasons Hotel Chicago.
“A new adventure,” said Mestraud, who speaks his native French—along with English and Spanish—and who grew up living in the Caribbean, including places such as Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Guatemala. “I’m a resort guy. It goes a long way with who I am and my style and personality.”
The Four Seasons Costa Rica project began this past August 2017 and encompasses a redesign of each of the resort’s guest rooms, suites and villas, culinary concepts, signature pool area and arrival experience. The December 2017 debut of the “new” Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica will also mark the launch of a more than $100 million investment toward a major transformation of the 1,400-acre Peninsula Papagayo—one of the premier residential and resort communities in the Americas.
For the uninitiated, the Papagayo Peninsula is on Costa Rica’s north Pacific coast. It’s one of the more popular tourist and residential areas of the country, although the Costa Rican government mandates that 70 percent of the land in the Peninsula remain natural and not lost to overdevelopment.
The Four Seasons Costa Rica at Papagayo Peninsula is located on a Pacific Coast hillside overlooking two beaches. Each of the 181 guest rooms, suites and villas will have seamless visual connections to the flora, fauna and ocean views beyond each balcony and patio; a redesigned arrival experience will feature a new luxury retail experience; and an enhanced signature pool area will have new luxury cabanas, amenities and programming.
“My stars were aligned right,” Mestraud said of his latest assignment. “I think I have a lot in common with Costa Rica. It fits my lifestyle—and this is a very interesting project. Ownership is putting in a lot of money. We will re-open this hotel on a different level. It’s kind of like opening a brand-new hotel, which I like and am very well-suited to do.
“It is especially exciting to bring my own personal touches to the resort during this incredible time as our transformation elevates the already world-class accommodations and unparalleled service for which our property is so renowned.”
Before it closed for the re-imagination, The Four Seasons Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo was the only Forbes Five-Star luxury resort in Central and South America. What does it take, in terms of a skill set of a general manager, to open such an ambitious project at an already acclaimed property?
“When you get to this stage in the pre-opening,” Mestraud said, “you need to be fast and nimble because things are really changing. The pace is very different from (an existing) operation because things are happening very fast.
“For example, we have an entirely new restaurant dining concept, with three restaurants and a rum bar, new rooms and designers coming on site. You need to move fast and be very efficient.
“The last piece is that we are re-energizing guest activities to be more upscale and to better fit the destination. That will give us guest experiences (including deep sea fishing, snorkeling and scuba, trips to Palo Verde National Park) inside and outside the resort.”
And it will also give guests an opportunity to share in Mestraud’s newest adventure.