When getting advice it’s always good to go straight to the experts. As a longtime veteran with the Four Seasons, a worldwide brand synonymous with impeccable service and quality, Lubosh Barta has the qualifications to provide insights on traveling with kids. Lubosh, a Czech national who now serves as the general manager of the Four Season Seoul, which has hit it out of the park with TripAdvisor ratings, also has another title: Dad. He is the father of two adolescent boys. He has traveled around the world with him. Read on for invaluable tips on choosing a hotel when traveling with children and how he defines five-star service.
It was late afternoon in Seoul and sun streamed through onto the blonde wood of the club lounge. From the window I could spot tourists entering the massive gates of Gyeongbuk palace, one of Korea’s most popular tourist destinations. I sipped on an ice latte.
Looking for the right place to stay with kids: plan ahead
When asked about how to best choose a hotel with little ones, Lubosh responded immediately: “Be proactive.” In order for the hotel to help, he recommends planning ahead. A Baby Travels the World tip: If you need a baby cot, make sure to ask for one in advance, so you don’t arrive into your room late at night and find yourself without one. Plan on dining in? Ask if the restaurant provides baby food, or can prepare food to your specifications. Ask if they provide extra towels for babies. –They should.
And how to choose the right place? “Do your research.” When traveling with his family, Lubosh looks on TripAdvisor, blogs–like Baby Travels the World, of course–and destination guides, for advice.
I asked Lubosh if it was difficult to stay in other hotels as the manager of a chain that provides such a high standard of hospitality. “When traveling I am even surprised at the level of service the Four Seasons provides.” In an earlier piece Lubosh talked about the Four Seasons Prague concierge tracking down with ease his exact brand of baby formula on a Sunday afternoon, when most stores in the Czech capital are normally closed.
Seek Personalized service
As Seoul’s newest hotel and arguably its most luxurious, the Four Seasons has quickly lived up to its reputation in a country where people were previously unfamiliar with the brand. Lubosh describes service as something “you cannot put into rules and procedures.” When I recently stayed at the hotel with my baby, I was instantly impressed that housekeeping had prearranged diapers–in baby’s exact size–in our room. My first thought was, well they really cater to babies. It turns out that this thoughtful and personalized service cater to everyone.
“For older kids, we may put an X-box or DVDs in the room.” added Lubosh. “For toddlers, there may be banana milk.”
The Four Seasons Seoul in general does seem to cater more to kids than other properties. Kids under 5 eat for free, and 5-15% of the menus at the hotel cater to children. On a night out at Kioku the Japanese restaurant led by Michelin-starred chef Sawada, staff held baby while we finished our sashimi course. At the pool, I spotted a number of other mothers who had brought baby for a mid-week luxury staycation.
On the lookout for other hotels with great offerings for kids? Lubosh recommends the Four Seasons properties in Hawaii, the Maldives and Orlando. “The Four Seasons Orlando is in the middle of the park [Disneyworld], yet kids are so entertained that they don’t want to leave the hotel.”
Lubosh added that no manuals exist to teach hotel staff this kind of personalized service, even with the Four Seasons.
And what’s for the Barta’s next family vacation? “We are thinking about doing an RV trip in New Zealand and Australia.” Bon Voyage! We wish the Barta family and you happy travels.