10 minutes with: Tom J Roelens

The general manager of Four Seasons Hotel Kuala Lumpur on the soon-to-open hotel and his best discoveries about the city.

Tell us about your previous postings.
Having been with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts for 18 years, I have been so fortunate to experience living and working around the world and learning about different cultures. My travels have taken me from my home country and postings in Brussels and Dubai to six years in Bali and Jakarta, Indonesia, and Newport Beach, Southern California, as well as opening our Four Seasons Resorts in the Maldives. Most recently, it was running two Four Seasons Resorts on the private island of Lana’i in Hawaii.

What do you miss most about Hawaii?
My wife Sara and I love living in each of the destinations, immersing ourselves in the local culture and food and making friends in each of these places. For example, I picked up diving in the Maldives while in Lana’i, I very much enjoyed the local sport of Hawaiian outrigger canoe paddling.

Best discoveries about KL?
We love the vibrant energy of the city, how each culture celebrates their respective festivals and how everyone enjoys each other’s food. There is always something happening. We enjoy the musical performances, the food scene and there is a great budding cocktail bar scene, which we at Four Seasons are looking to contribute to in a major way with the launch of our very own Bar Trigona.

So, when is your property officially opening?
The Four Seasons Hotel Kuala Lumpur will officially make its debut in mid-2018. In celebration of its grand opening later this year, we are extending an introductory offer as well as a variety of packages, including the Stay Longer — Third Night Free offer and a Family Package that includes 50% savings on a second room for family stays over the summer period.

What are your favourite things about your new hotel?
At 65 storeys, Four Seasons Place Kuala Lumpur will be one of the tallest buildings in Malaysia and Southeast Asia, second only to the Petronas Twin Towers. As the latest landmark to join the city’s architectural skyline, the mixed-use development will introduce Four Seasons hospitality and a new wave of glamour to the vibrant Golden Triangle neighbourhood. Because of its prime location in the heart of the city, we believe the hotel is poised to be a dynamic social hub with breathtaking views of the KLCC Park.

What would be the star dishes to try at your Chinese restaurant, Yun House?
Guests can expect classic Cantonese dishes served with modern flair and presentation. We will be setting the tone and creating the ultimate Cantonese restaurant experience in a stylish and sophisticated setting, overlooking the KLCC Park.

Yun House at the Four Seasons Kuala Lumpur

And what should we drink at Bar Trigona?
How about a Trigona Old Fashioned, made with Michter’s American bourbon, cynar, trigona honey, bitters and cedarwood essential oil? I believe the bar is set to quickly become the talk of the town — a sleek, modern hotel bar that celebrates the rich and diverse flora of the Malay peninsula — while the menu will feature a carefully composed list of vibrant contemporary cocktails that champion sustainability.

What else should guests look out for when you open?
Over and above a phenomenal new hotel, we are also featuring Four Seasons Serviced Apartments for those looking to stay for longer periods of time or wanting larger luxury accommodation within the comfort of a Four Seasons Hotel. Decadent by Four Seasons, located in the heart of the Shoppes at Four Seasons Place, offers an expansive array of handcrafted indulgences skilfully created by our pastry chefs. You should also delight yourself with one of the house specialities of made-to-order chocolate bark as well as locally inspired gelati and sundaes that look as good as they taste. And if you need a boost while out on a shopping spree, the hotel’s very own nitro coffee brew is the best pick-me-up. The Pool Bar & Grill offers enticing Mediterranean dishes and a stylish shisha lounge and grill while The Four Seasons Spa is an urban oasis that celebrates multicultural Malaysian wellness traditions with bespoke signature treatments. And, of course, the ballroom and catering facilities are of great interest too.

What tips would you give a first-time visitor to KL?
Experience the city, go off the grid, enjoy the phenomenal local food, visit the Islamic Arts Museum and participate in one of the many cultural festivals the city has to offer. No matter how many times you visit KL, there are always new places and hidden gems to uncover.

So, what’s your off-duty schedule like?
Sara and I enjoy learning about culture, trying new restaurants and generally discovering the country and its many facets. We truly enjoy the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, conveniently located next to the Four Seasons Hotel Kuala Lumpur in the Petronas Twin Towers, and equally enjoy road trips to nearby Melaka, Penang, Ipoh and Cameron Highlands as well as Pulau Ketam and Pulau Carey where the Orang Asli, the Malaysian aborigines, still practise their ancient ways.


This interview first appeared on Mar 26, 2018 in The Edge Malaysia. 

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