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Alex Porteous

General Manager
Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto

Date of birth: Aug. 26, 1967

Hometown: London

Number of years in Japan (cumulative): 2.5 (as of January 2018)

Alex Porteous
Q1: What was your first encounter with Japan?

I first came to Japan in 1992 after my graduation as a management trainee from The Savoy Group of Hotels and Restaurants London, England. At that time, I was based at the Hotel Okura in Tokyo learning the intricacies of Japanese hospitality while marketing London and specifically The Savoy Group to international Japanese travelers.

Q2: Please state your motto in life and why you have chosen it.

My current mantra, as articulated by Richard Branson, is, “Complexity is your enemy. … It is hard to make something simple.” I believe mottos can change over your career as you morph to tackle different challenges and grow in your role. As a general manager, you see the wide spectrum of the operation and all its details; you’re basically in charge of realizing this vision and creating a postcard-perfect scene with your team. Keep it simple, hands-on and consistent.

Q3 : Over your career, what achievement are you the proudest of?

In 25 years with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, I have opened three hotels — Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui in Thailand, Four Seasons Resort Seychelles and now Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto. Each one is unique in its moments and opportunities. In each opening, including Kyoto, I have learned and grown. Opening a hotel allows you to create a unique footprint of your team’s achievements and the opportunities that were overcome. Those hotels will forever have our unique mark on them somewhere throughout the property.

Q4 : What are your goals during your time in Japan, your current position or in life?

As we enter our second year of operation, Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto will position itself to be the premier address in Kyoto. We hope this positive approach will also lead to recognition throughout Japan and the region as the best in class from a property design and architectural perspective. All of this is complemented by exceptional, intuitive service. From a personal perspective that is just as important, assimilating our three daughters back into their Japanese heritage and education.

Q5 : What wisdom, advice or tips can you give to people living and working in Japan?

As a general manager based in Kyoto, a place steeped in tradition, it is important to be committed and contribute to the local community as a very good neighbor. Patience, respect, adaptability and most importantly, authenticity will place you in high regard.

Last updated: Oct 2, 2018