Feb 10, 2022
Four Seasons Hotel Minneapolis seeks to make a name for itself with a gleaming 34-story glass tower featuring 222 spacious rooms, a Mediterranean restaurant by one of the city’s best chefs and a game-changing snow-melting pool deck that’s one of the largest in Minneapolis.
Forbes Travel Guide sat down with enthusiastic general manager Florian Riedel to talk about the hotel, which opens in the summer. “It’s the perfect time,” says Riedel, who has been with the Four Seasons company since 1996. “It’s the beginning of the summer. Hopefully, with COVID we’re going to be in a better spot, and we can open this hotel and start fresh and bring some new energy into downtown Minneapolis.”
Read on to find out more about that pool deck, how Riedel plans to help re-energize downtown and why this is Minneapolis’ time to shine.
Why did Four Seasons decide to open a hotel in Minneapolis?
We should have been here many, many years ago. There are so many reasons why we need to be here. From a business perspective, it’s incredible — there’s 18 Fortune 500 headquarters right here in Minneapolis. On the flip side, you have all these sports teams here, from the Twins to the Vikings to the Wild, which brings our weekend business.
You have Minneapolis as a destination. The recreational aspect is fantastic. [In Minnesota], you have more than 4,000 miles of bike trails, you have 66 recreational parks. There’s so much to do here. I’m experiencing this myself right now. Last weekend was my first time cross-country skiing, and I’ve got to say, I love it, and my son is ice skating. We are fully embracing the winter, but I certainly experienced the beautiful summer with 11,000 lakes — you go cycling, you go swimming, you go boating.
I believe this is, quite frankly, more than opening a hotel. We will have an opportunity to change the landscape here. This is not only for Minneapolis but statewide. We want to support and encourage a positive change here in Minneapolis. I think the city needs it.
We have amazing amenities in the hotel, a fantastic spa, amazing restaurants—a partnership with Gavin Kaysen, one of the local celebrity chefs here — all of this will create much positive energy. We are going to employ almost 350 employees. We are targeting the local market for this, which should give Minneapolis an opportunity to find a career with Four Seasons.
What are your favorite aspects of the hotel?
The architecture is stunning. You have these floor-to-ceiling windows everywhere, so you have incredible light flowing throughout the building.
The location of the building, just two blocks from the Mississippi River, is wonderful. Unobstructed views of the Mississippi River and the skyline of Minneapolis, which is fantastic.
But then the amenities themselves, you have the partnership with Gavin Kaysen — that restaurant is going to be spectacular. Alongside Nicollet Mall, you can see inside the restaurant from the outside. It’s beautifully designed [with a] chef’s table and open kitchen.
We also have a pool deck that I am really excited about. It’s an outdoor pool deck on the fourth floor — the only hotel in Minneapolis with an outdoor pool deck — and we will have a restaurant out there as well, Mediterranean/Italian. You sit outside in the summer poolside, a nice cocktail, live music, fresh pastas, salads. That’s going to be an incredible experience and I believe one of the hot spots throughout the summer. But not just the summer — we also built a snow-melt system onto that pool deck so that we have the ability to have real fun and create some winter programming. We are thinking about a Christmas market, fire pit dinners with fondue and mulled wine.
The spa is incredible: seven treatment rooms, an indoor pool, steam room, showers, dry sauna.
What can diners expect at Gavin Kaysen’s restaurant?
It’s going to be fine dining, but at the same time, we don’t want this to be a special occasion restaurant. This is going to be more casual. We want people to feel really comfortable there.
I see people connecting there. It’s designed to bring people together. I can see this offering quick power lunches. We will transition to a very vibrant evening atmosphere and people will celebrate their business successes and at the same time just come in and enjoy incredible food.
He is such a talented guy, and I think his food will speak for itself. It’s obviously local but it will be Mediterranean, so this will not necessarily be the typical Italian restaurant. It will get some inspiration from Greece, Turkey, the Middle East, with baba ganoush, hummus and flatbread. We will carve steaks tableside and make whole fish and fresh salads.
You will also see a show in the dining room where people go, “Oh my God, what’s happening here? What are they having over there? I want that, too.”
How did the hotel adapt to the pandemic?
All of our meeting rooms are equipped with the latest and greatest audiovisual equipment. All groups will have the ability to connect virtually. If they want to bring people in, they can do that, too.
We are thinking about guest rooms: can guests work out in the privacy of their own rooms? That’s a takeaway from the pandemic that we’ve learned. Some of our guests enjoy it. Can we make it even better? It [should be] more than just a yoga mat. How do we create something where the guests have the ability to work out in the privacy of their guest rooms in a meaningful way. We are working on that.
I know you’ve worked at numerous Four Seasons, including Hualalai on Hawaii’s Big Island and Palo Alto. How do you think this will stand out from other Four Seasons properties?
The product and quality of this hotel are by far probably the best I’ve seen in my 25 years with Four Seasons. [Owners the Pohlad family, locals who also own the Twins], have not spared a penny to really think this through from every angle — the arrival of the guest, the food and beverage offerings, the spa, the meeting facilities. The level of detail is incredible.
I think Minneapolis deserves not only a Four Seasons hotel in many ways, but it’s going to be one of the best Four Seasons hotels we have in our portfolio. And that will really send a message that says, Minneapolis is ready to step up and rival Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago. This is Minneapolis’ time.