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First thoughts on the brand new Four Seasons Downtown NYC

PHOTO: Bar at Four Seasons Downtown (c) Sery Kim

I'm a bit of what industry insiders like to say, "a Four Seasons junkie." When I first started out in the full-time food and travel writer business January 2015, I didn't know anything about luxury hotels other than the fact they were "luxurious," and the sum total of what I knew of the Four Seasons brand back a mere 18 months ago was that it was expensive.

Very quickly, my evaluative skills became acclimated to the details which sets the Four Seasons, as well as brands such as the St. Regis and Fairmont, apart from others. For me, the easy differentiators were (1) quality of beds; (2) a buffet of pillow options; (3) water pressure and heat; (4) the scope and depth of housekeeping amenities; and (5) the recentness of updates to the amenities. However, as time went on and the more luxury properties I reviewed, it became clear to me the hotels in the luxury space were actually not all that different from each other. After all, when individuals can spend upwards of a thousand dollars a night for a hotel room, they expect the extraordinary to be ordinary so, as a reviewer, you have to create new standards and new metrics in deciding which hotels are great and which are merely average.

Once I go through the "average" checklist, I immediate go to one of the biggest differentiators in a luxury hotel brand: the staff.

As a young female minority, I always get treated differently. Good or bad, whether I walk into a store or a hotel or a business meeting, I never get treated the same. Mostly, at expensive stores, I get ignored. Same for hotels and business meetings. I might as well as be invisible -- unless they know I am coming in which case I get treated differently (little do these people know I already came BEFORE I reviewed it so I could see how "regular" people get treated). But this statement is not true at the Fairmont. Or the St. Regis. Or the Four Seasons ... ESPECIALLY at the Four Seasons.

To me, what has always set the Four Seasons apart is their staff. From the front desk to the housekeepers, the people who work at the Four Seasons I have stayed at are always kind and never more so here at the brand new, 11 day old hotel, Four Seasons Downtown.

Located steps from the World Trade Center and Oculus, the Four Seasons Downtown is luxurious without being ornate, comfortable without being garnish. Interiors soothe rather than draw acclaim. Nothing too fancy with plenty of fresh floral arrangements. But what I noticed immediately was the nice gentleman working the doors around 400 pm yesterday who smiled at me in a completely friendly way and helped me with my luggage. "Welcome to the Four Seasons Miss!" He was so cheery and wonderfully helpful. It's not always this way. When I went to stay at the Peninsula last year, a hotel known for ultra-luxury, no one greeted me and no one helped me with my luggage. And there were three guys milling about. So it's not a standard thing at hotels. It's something which great hotel groups cultivate.

PHOTO: Rear foyer installation (c) Sery Kim

The suites are not quite ready so I stayed at a nice king bedroom. Again, nothing fancy or note-worthy about the decor. Muted palates of beiges, browns and cream. No pop of color anywhere in the rooms, which means the hotel should age nicely. Beds and pillows are sublime with the rare European pillows instead of tiny throw pillows, monogrammed with the Four Seasons logo. It they weren't so huge, I would have been tempted to "steal them!" (ONLY KIDDING! ONLY KIDDING!!!)

Naturally, the bathrooms are fully updated with lots of marble. Upon entry, a huge shower is on the left with an easy-to-reach wall carve-out to store shampoo/conditioner/soap. Directly in front is a bathtub big enough to fit a 6'8 man (I know this because TJ, the chief concierge/head butler, is 6'8 and he said he could fit in) with a near floor-to-ceiling window to bring in lots of natural light. Plenty of mirror space, as well as a built-in television to the mirror, and behind the door, in its own space with a door, is the toilet.

Again, nothing unique or special about the design or the sleeping area or room, but there was one singularly unique amenity to this Four Seasons, as compared to the dozen-or-so other Four Seasons I have stayed at are the slippers. One was marked "M" and the other marked "L." Cute.

PHOTO: Floral arrangement at the Four Seasons Downtown (c) Sery Kim

Also, each room comes fully equipped with its own touchpad where you can control ordering of room service as well as items from housekeeping. I forgot my toothbrush and toothpaste so I ordered it through the Ipad and it arrived 6 minutes later. Fabulous.

Due to my schedule, I didn't get a chance to try the spa or the food and cocktails at the hotel so I can't really comment on these elements except to say the coffee machine in my room is Nespresso and the coffee downtown is La Columbe (which I love). The hotel, in a first for the Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts family, fully contracted out the restaurant service and space to Wolfgang Puck. CUT by Wolfgang Puck is all-American fare. Should be a solid addition to Downtown. I'm looking forward to reviewing it some other time.

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