PRAGUE, Czech Republic -- After struggling for several years to
obtain a site and building permits, Four Seasons will make its
debut here in February.
The 162-room property will be the second Four Seasons in the
former Eastern Bloc -- the Four Seasons Berlin opened in 1996 --
and a Four Seasons is due to open in Budapest, Hungary, in
According to Ignacio Gomez, general manager of the Four Seasons
Prague, one reason the property took so long to develop is that it
is located in the center of the city, one of the best preserved
historical centers in Europe.
Obtaining the permits to turn a collection of landmark buildings
into the only hotel to sit on the banks of the Vltava River was
something of a challenge, he said.
Before buying the buildings in 1995, Four Seasons had to assure
city officials and a skeptical public that the hotel would not mar
the area's architectural harmony.
The hotel is located on Alsovo Nabrezi, a few steps from the
Charles Bridge, which affords views of Prague Castle and the Mala
Strana quarter, and two blocks from the city's famous Old Town.
Reflecting the history of Prague, the hotel's facade embodies
five centuries of architectural styles, including baroque and
The hotel consists of four buildings -- one modern, two that
date to the 19th century and one that has its roots in the 16th
The restoration of the three older buildings was a three-year
project completed by Dum a Mesto, a Prague-based architectural
The buildings' original facades were maintained. Inside,
however, the hotel has the look of a modern international luxury
Facilities and amenities include a health club; spa services; a
restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating; a bar and lounge, and
in-room fax hook-ups and Internet connections.
Guest rooms will feature some art nouveau design flourishes,
throwbacks to the last century.
contrast with most city-center Four Seasons properties, Gomez said
he expects only 20% of the hotel's guests to be business travelers
in its first two years of operation.
"As the Czech Republic gets closer to acceptance in the European
Union, more foreign investors will be interested in coming here, so
I anticipate that eventually the balance will tip toward 50%
leisure and 50% business," he said.
Gomez predicted that Americans will initially comprise 30% to
40% of the hotel's clients.
Although Prague has no shortage of international properties,
including two Marriotts, a Relais & Chateaux and an
Inter-Continental, Gomez claimed that the Four Seasons will be the
most luxurious spot in town.
"We are not only the newest hotel, we have the best location and
will offer the best service. No other hotel has our position on the
river [looking out on] the castle," he said.
The average room rate will be about $280, Gomez said, which he
noted was about $80 to $100 more than the average rate at the
city's larger hotels.
Gomez said that he hoped more deluxe properties would open in
Prague, such as Kempinski, which was to have opened in the Old Town
last year but has since been delayed, or Ritz-Carlton.
"This would raise the bar for everyone," he said.