Didier Jardin

10 mins read

Didier Jardin has been with the Four Seasons since 1994. He is a versatile adventurer with a passion for the sea. He is an adrenaline junkie who loves skydiving and has travelled to numerous countries, too many to keep track of. 

Didier’s early years were spent in the picturesque Loire Valley in France, renowned for its magnificent castles and, as an enthusiastic wine lover, he notes that it is equally famous for its Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé wines.

As someone who began his career as an apprentice, Didier has a special interest in the Four Seasons Resorts Maldives Apprenticeship program. His inclusive approach and open-door policy reflect his desire to be considered an equal member of the team. “We all enter this world in the same way and have our own roles to fulfill,” he concludes. “I maintain a balanced approach, treat everyone fairly, and adapt to different situations. But above all, I strive to create a joyful atmosphere because there is no greater motivator than a positive work environment.”

Hotel Insider: You grew up on a farm in the Loire Valley, which paints a very idyllic picture. When did you realise that you wanted something more?

Didier Jardin: Although living on a farm may sound idyllic, it was also hard. My parents worked from five in the morning until eight at night, 365 days a year for over 30 years. Making ends meet was a struggle every month. As a child, I remember just one four-day holiday – to meet my uncle for a seaside camping trip in Royan on the west coast – in a period of ten years. 

Yet while there were challenges for my parents, it was a great childhood, and the simple things in life still make me happiest. Most of our meals came from the garden or farm and I have fond memories of my mother’s cooking. I believe that if there is one thing that connects us to the country where we are raised, it’s food.

Food ran in our family – one brother was a chef and the other a baker. At 15 years old, I realised I too wanted to pursue something culinary with the promise of travel.  I knew I wanted to learn ‘on the job’ – and not work on the farm –  so I headed to the Pyrenees for three months to discover what I really wanted to do.

I started a two-year Server Apprenticeship Program at a small hotel restaurant in Chartres called Le Grand Monarque; it was a week of studying followed by three weeks of hands-on experience at the restaurant. Back then, a lot of dishes were finished tableside, which really appealed to me. Final preparations included Dover Sole, Steak Tartare, Steak au Poivre, and one of my favorites, Crêpes Suzette. Once the two years were up, I was delighted to secure the role of Chef de Rang in a Paris restaurant – a key stepping stone towards my future. 

Hotel Insider: What was your navy experience like and how did it affect or shape your future in hospitality?

Didier Jardin: Growing up in central France surrounded by rolling hills isn’t the usual path into the navy but as I had skills as a server, I had the chance to join the French Naval Academy for two months. It was a real learning curve – not only in how to be a waiter for the officers but also in naval protocol; I was also trained as a firefighter. After two months, I ranked third out of my class of 20 and was delighted to continue sea-faring life aboard a frigate called Georges Leygues. My dream came true —I started to travel: Greece, Egypt, Italy, Bulgaria, Djibouti and even the Persian Gulf. While I had a thirst to continue, I knew I had to hone my English skills, so I moved to a small village in northern England to work as a waiter. 

Hotel Insider: You had your first experience of the Four Seasons brand in Wailea, Hawaii. You had other offers, but you went with this. What was the initial experience like? When did you know you’d made the right choice?

Didier Jardin: After a year in Bermuda, I enrolled at College Lasalle in Montreal, Canada in 1991 to study Hotel Management. Three years later and armed with new knowledge, I ended up in Maui.

My Maui ‘crossroads moment’ was choosing to work for Four Seasons or a Mexican restaurant on the beach: while the decision was easy, I was still a little scared by Four Seasons. Could I operate at such a high level of service? This was 1994, and one of the first Four Seasons resorts, yet right from the first interview I knew this was the company for me. 

Being at Four Seasons felt like being in my own skin. I was very comfortable with the culture and the philosophy. “Treat others as you would like to be treated” was not just a motto, but a way of life.

I stayed at Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea for five and a half years, joining as an Assistant Manager, before being promoted to Restaurant Manager, then Assistant Banquet Manager, and finally Assistant Director of F&B. The growth and opportunities were incredible. Four Seasons has always based its success on how it takes care of its people. 

Hotel Insider: Let’s talk about this resort a bit. How would you describe the service ethos of Kuda Huraa?

Didier Jardin: “Genuine heart” best describes the service of Kuda Huraa. Four Seasons has operated in the Maldives for over 25 years and the soul of Kuda Huraa is its people. Our team is probably the most generous and kind-hearted I’ve seen in over 40 years in the hospitality industry. Our employees do what they do every single day because they want to, not because they have to. There is a culture of togetherness. The best judges are our guests, and over the years many have returned time and time again to Kuda Huraa, not only for the brand but also for our employees. Kuda Huraa service is intuitive and heart-centred; it is our biggest strength.

Hotel Insider: As the GM of Four Seasons Kuda Huraa, what would you look for in a prospective candidate wanting to start out in hospitality here?

Didier Jardin: In all of my years with Four Seasons (almost 30 and counting) the key pillar of the company has been its people, and one of the main things we look for is attitude. Although experience is important, if you have a great attitude and are willing to learn and work hard, Four Seasons is here for you. The opportunities for those who want to climb the ladder are there to grab.

Hotel Insider: You’ve led a busy life and moved around a great deal. Do you still travel for pleasure?  

Didier Jardin: The world is a big place and there are still so many places to discover — so the answer is yes. Experiencing new cultures and tasting local food is always on my wish list. But first, there are so many places to discover in the Maldives; I feel like I’m just at the start of my journey here.

Hotel Insider: Thank you very much, Didier.