Interview with Mr. Uday Rao,
General Manager of Four Seasons Resorts Bali
Four Seasons has two resorts in Bali. One is by the azure sea and the other is hidden in a sacred valley. In addition to the brand’s constant quality and services, the two resorts cooperatively lead guests into the depths of the authentic Bali. They offer more than you can imagine: dwell in A Balinese traditional style villa, practice yoga in the sea breezes; or explore the cultural center of the island, join in a sacred ritual and connect to both nature and your inner self.
Behind the two resorts is one General Manager – Mr. Uday Rao. Born in a family of hotel business, Uday naturally gravitated to the world of hotels after studying business management in the United States and in Tokyo. His first tenure was in Four Seasons. In the past 28 years, though he has occasionally worked with other hotel companies, Uday keeps coming back. Having worked with Four Seasons in many different countries and regions, Uday is thrilled by the opportunity of coming to Bali. He said: “During my stints in Singapore and Tokyo, I visited Bali many times. Each time, I felt closer to the country and more connected with the people and culture.” SpaChina interviewed him.
What are the difference and specialties of the two Four Seasons resorts in Bali?
We consider Four Seasons Resorts Bali as one resort in two places, it offers a completely different stay experience, yet complementing each other. Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay is the perfect place to immerse in a Balinese culture: a 156-villa beach retreat comprising seven ‘living’ villages adorned with temples, shrines and water gardens. The fully-renovated Premier Ocean Villa is a perfect space to soak up the sanctuary. Embracing the beach lifestyle of chic Sundara, is also one of the highlight for Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay.
While Jimbaran Bay offers beach resort activity, Four Seasons Resort Sayan invites guests to submit to Bali’s purest embrace. A 60-room sanctuary cocooned in the enchanting Ayung valley, Four Seasons Sayan is perfect for restoring the subtle inner energies with yoga and meditation in the lotus petal Dharma Shanti Bale. Experiencing rice planting with local farmers or embrace the ubiquitous energy of soulful Ubud is a preferred activity on the Sayan resort.
What is the traditional Balinese healing concept and how do the two Four Seasons resorts integrate this ancient wisdom into their services?
Through its two spas in Bali, Four Seasons explores the two inextricably intertwined philosophies of Balinese culture: Sekala (the seen or physical world) and Niskala (the unseen or energetic world). Together, they illustrate the Balinese belief in the connection between the outer and inner worlds; the experiential and the meditative; the body and soul. With the emphasis on the flow from Sekala to Niskala (the seen to the unseen), the Healing Village Spa at Jimbaran Bay focuses on restoring the physical body in order to facilitate exploration of the inner self. With the flow reversed from Niskala to Sekala (the unseen to the seen), the Sacred River Spa at Sayan focuses on evoking a sense of spiritual connection powerful enough to affect physical change. Both spas showcase ancient rituals, locally grown ingredients and an authentic, educative approach. Together, they demonstrate the Balinese integration of the physical and spiritual worlds and the importance of an all-encompassing view to wellness across both body and soul.
What are the needs and expectations of those who visit Bali, especially those who come for wellness and healing, and what solutions do you offer?
People have heard a lot about Balinese Healers. Guests frequently ask about what we offer and what is local. At the same time, they demand the best and are wary of gimmicks. We stay true to the culture, use a lot of local products and also offer mostly organic and chemical free products even in our guest rooms. Guests are seeking purity and are mindful of the planet.
What is the “Visiting Practitioners” program and what is your selection criteria?
Our selection criteria is for the practitioner to be one of the best in their field, to provide a variety of people using different modalities and skill sets and different practitioners at different times of year to match the guest demographic. We offer many different kinds of visiting practitioners, each with a different speciality. Most of the programs are pretty popular, and we try to accommodate most needs from our guests.
What new wellbeing programs do you plan to launch in 2020?
A menu using crystal infused products, a special quartz sand table, sound therapy with high vibration crystal singing bowls and surround sound system and chromo lighting, Longevity room using infrared, volcanic mud, ice bathing and some 3 and 5 day packages for wellness.
What are your strategies, apart from the numerous attractive wellbeing program mentioned above, to win guests’ loyalty and make them return again and again?
It’s all about connection, being authentic and highest quality treatments. Our spa provides the best of the best in terms of ambiance and interiors/equipment but also the best quality therapists and experience. These are key to loyalty. Providing guests with opportunities to find moments of deep peace, relief, insight, and learning. Creating retail section with interesting and conscious products to support well lifestyle.
What trends do you observe in today’s hospitality and wellness world?
Guests these days have becoming more and more tech savvy, everything is done digitally, check in is now done digitally, you can easily book your hotel through your phone, through applications or hotel booking platform. Four Seasons is adapting this with our Four Seasons chat, which digitalize request, but still retain the human touch, as it is still our staff who will manage every request on the chat.
While the digital world has revolutionized hotel experience, the wellness world is now moving toward holistic approaches to life. We see more trends on overcoming these modern world ailments. We see more places offering stress relief, offering guidance on balanced diet and balanced workout.
Could you recommend some must-see or must-do things in Bali? What is the favorite thing for yourself by living and working in Bali?
For me, Bali is a place like no other. It might sound clichéd but the island truly brings a life transformation for me, I feel I found myself in Bali. I think I came in Bali at the right time of my life, and that I was meant to come here. That’s how I feel about Bali.
There is more to Bali than Ubud, Canggu, or Seminyak. You will have to travel to the other areas in Bali. If you see postcards of Bali, these were never taken on the popular places. Spend a day or two to explore Bali, the rural area, the community and their culture.
I always like to explore Bali during my free time. On my 50th birthday, I did a road trip circling the island by car, I learned a lot of thing during the trip, I dined at local street food stalls, I was completely adventurous, and this experience enriched me a lot.