After a near four-year stint as General Manager of the beautiful Four Seasons Resort Langkawi in Malaysia,Alastair McAlpine is trading the tropical island exoticism for some classical Chinese elegance as he is newly appointed General Manager of Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at West Lake, a UNESCO-recognised region.
Originally from Northern Ireland, Alastair is an established Four Seasons “character,” known for his ebullient personality and dry Irish wit. He began his career as a trainee sommelier at Gleneagles Hotel; the mind boggles at the thought of the wine recommendations made by such a 20-year-old from Belfast!
Alastair graduated in Hotel Management from the Scottish Hotel School at Strathclyde University in 1993. He started his Four Seasons journey at the former Regent Hong Kong in 1996, first as a Management Trainee and then as Assistant Director of Food and Beverage. This was followed by four postings as Food and Beverage Director in the Maldives, Tokyo, Washington DC and New York. Alastair was the opening Resort Manager at Lanai , Hawaii from July 2005 to June 2008, before his first General Manager posting in the Maldives at Kuda Huraa. Alastair moved to the Seychelles as General Manager in November 2009, and then to Langkawi in late 2011. Hangzhou will be Alastair’s tenth Four Seasons property.
Alastair met his delightful Japanese wife Mitsuko, a dive-instructor, in the Maldives. Since their first introduction took place 15 metres (50 feet) below sea level on the house reef, their hand signals clearly evoked a positive response in each other. Alastair has remained a keen diver; he is also an enthusiastic golfer, although his nickname “McSlice” tells its own story.
Alastair and Mitsuko’s daughter Kei, now seven, has been going to school in Kuala Lumpur, where she has been going far beyond hand signals, and learning Mandarin for the past four years.
“Hangzhou is just the most surprising part of China I’ve ever seen,” says Alastair McAlpine, describing the picturesque region, without hesitation.”You forget you’re surrounded by so many people here. You go to bed hearing one nature, and you wake up hearing a different nature.” All of that nature within a city of close to 9 million creates a “rare crossover,” he continues. “The property is unique in that it combines being a hotel as well as a resort. Very few places can achieve such a dual purpose. So leisure and corporate guests can enjoy the same wonderful experience.”
Marco Polo described Hangzhou seven centuries ago as “the world’s finest city where one fancies himself to be in paradise.” Now Hangzhou is the capital and largest city of Zhejiang Province in eastern China. It grew to prominence as the southern terminus of the Grand Canal and has been one of the most renowned and prosperous cities in China for much of the last millennium, due in part to its beautiful natural scenery. The city’s West Lake, on the banks of which Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou sits, is its best-known attraction.