As one of only three GMs directing Four Seasons properties in Canada, Robert Cima is part of an exclu­sive fraternity.

It’s a reality not lost on the 51­year­old hotelier. The regional vice­-president and GM of the 373-­room property, knew he wanted to work in the hotel industry since he was 15. Born in Ithaca, N.Y., the Cornell University graduate got his education in hospitality from the ground up. “My first job in the industry was as a dishwasher or steward. I just loved it — the camaraderie, positive spirit and great energy that permeated the restaurant was absolutely contagious. I couldn’t believe I was getting paid to have fun. That feeling is still with me today.”

Through the years, his work has taken him to 13 Four Seasons locations around the world, including New York, London and Hawaii. Eight months ago, he made the trek north from his most recent posting in California to assume the reins of the Vancouver property. “It’s an absolute jewel — 35 years young … with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts’ most tenured staff — that adds up to 5,000 years of experience.”

Among his managerial duties, Cima oversees a staff of 500. And, the hotel industry vet is always challenging himself to “Stay relevant, fashionable and on the cutting edge for our current clients and future guests.” He defines his style as “participative,” aiming to be supportive with a bias for action. Not surprisingly, having worked with Four Seasons for 28 years, Cima is a strict disciple of Isadore Sharp’s Golden Rule. “I always think there is so much more to do, and I have not arrived at success per se. I attach it to Mr. Sharp’s belief that ‘perfec­tion is an ever­receding goal.’” In other words, as you get closer to the goal of success or perfection, the bar just gets set higher.”

Last year, just in time for the Olympics, the hotel underwent a $20­million capital refurbishment of its guestrooms and public spaces. And, this year, Cima is currently in the throes of re­launching Yew Restaurant + Bar, which will become a seafood restaurant with “modern, coastal and social aspects. We’re kicking this off with a new physical addition to the room — a rockin’ new Raw bar and the freshest ‘fish­to­plate’ food.”

Cima credits the hotel’s location, “in the living room of the city, and its wonderful and rich history, attaching itself to the leaders of industry, retail and the community,” as reasons for its success. “Centrally located in the heart of the business centre and on top of the Pacific Centre, we are a stone’s throw from everything.”

Schooled in Four Seasons’ strict service culture, Cima believes it’s important to “be authentic, stylish and handcrafted in his approach to guests’ needs.” Not surprisingly, he’s having fun “working with the most intelligent, committed and hard­working colleagues.”

Married, with two teenagers, the respected hotelier enjoys spending time “in the moment,” releasing his stress by having fun doing outside activities with his family. As for the future, he’s focused on “continuing to have fun by animating the guest experience.”

photo by Randall Cosco

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