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Hotel Review: A Five-Star Four Seasons

By Todd R. Berger

Minneapolis’ first five-star hotel is thoughtful in details with breathtaking views of the Mill City—and several destination restaurants.

“I’d sure like to take a bath there,” I said, perhaps a little too revealingly, to others in the bathroom suite during a tour of the new Four Seasons Hotel Minneapolis. Beyond the tub, the floor-to-ceiling windows revealed the Mississippi River, a large swath of the northern and western Twin Cities, and the meandering lines of Interstate Highways 394 and 94.

In fact, it is not just the views from the Premier Executive River View Suite bathtub that are spectacular at the Four Seasons, which opened its doors June 1. All 222 rooms and 39 suites are on the 23rd to 30th floors of the 36-story RBC Gateway tower; every one of them has an astonishing view. The mixed-use tower is the newest addition to the Minneapolis skyline.

“I love it that every one of our spaces has natural light,” says Allie Stoneberg, the hotel’s director of communications and partnerships. “The sunsets are pretty phenomenal.” 

Stoneberg invited me for a tour of Minnesota’s first five-star hotel before the hotel opened to the public. We were joined by Dawn Turbes, the hotel’s director of sales, and Noelia Roblero, director of events.

Inside the hotel are thoughtful details subtly suggesting Minnesota. These range from the gold leaf-painted, inverted half-cylinder backdrop of The Cocktail Bar at Mara suggesting flour mill grain elevators to the arched entryway to Mara restaurant itself, reminiscent of the city’s Stone Arch Bridge.

Another example is the wavy ceiling above the indoor swimming pool on the fourth floor. “This is one of my favorite art features,” Stoneberg says. “It is a nod to the movement of waves in Minnesota lakes and the movement of wheat in Minnesota fields.” 

Back in the hotel’s lobby, I detected the rich, fruity scent of fresh lilacs, which were prominently vased on a multi-level flower table in the lobby’s center. 

Turbes noticed the scent, too. “Lilacs are one of those special things for me, because they always bloom in May. My birthday is in May—my grandmother used to cut lilacs out of the bushes for my birthday every year. They smell so good.”

In a very different way, the smells are delectable in the hotel’s several restaurants. Two-time James Beard Award-winning Consulting Chef and Restauranteur Gavin Kaysen brought his culinary skill to Mara, as well as the hotel’s Socca Café. Mara features innovative elements of the cuisine of 22 Mediterranean countries, especially the flavors of the small villages of southern France. Socca Café also champions Mediterranean flavors from hummus to tzatziki in a grab-and-go café and bakery accessible from Hennepin Avenue. And if it is summertime, enjoy alfresco dining of coastal Italian fare at Riva Terrace, the creation of Executive Chef Martín Morelli. Riva Terrace shares its fourth-floor location with the largest outdoor pool plaza in downtown Minneapolis. The terrace and pool are panoramically surrounded by the red-granite clock tower of Minneapolis City Hall, the IDS Center, and the Hennepin Avenue Bridge and the iconic Grain Belt sign.

Leaving Riva Terrace, we took the elevator to the second-floor indoor event spaces (all indoor event spaces can be found on one floor). Floor-to-ceiling windows flood every event space with natural light. The floor connects to Minneapolis’ Skyway system. There is even a dedicated space for brides and others who want to look perfect before their big event. “Celebration Suite is designed with the bride and their entourage in mind,” Roblero says, as we walk through a comforting room filled with mirrors, large closets, a vanity, and a huge bathroom. “But it really is very versatile. You can use it as a green room for conferences—for speakers to prepare.”

The indoor event spaces include multiple ballrooms, pre-function spaces, and breakout rooms. The largest of these, the Mill City Ballroom at 6,482 square feet, can hold up to 600 guests for a reception, with another 340 easily fitting in the ballroom’s pre-function area. Also available for events is the outdoor Riva Plaza (next to Riva Terrace) on the fourth floor, which can cater to up to 350 people in its 4,119 square feet. 

We also toured the hotel’s spa, a respite offering such delights as Honey Haven Ritual (a body wrap of honey and pomegranate enzymes), Botanical Bliss (including the Queen of Roses Bath Milk Body Cocoon), and Percussion Therapy (which delivers precise self-myofascial relief). Connected to the spa and the indoor pool area, three sauna options are available: wet, dry, and the cold plunge. The cold plunge looks like a small hot tub, with cool water that can be iced down. After time in one of the saunas, guests can jump into the cold plunge, not much different than sweating in the sauna at the cabin and subsequently leaping into an ice-cold lake. 

Unfortunately, the spa was in use when I visited, and I did not get cocooned or take the cold plunge. But it was a lovely morning immersed in carefree luxury and striking visual details, and I felt rejuvenated as I handed my ticket to the valet in the hotel’s porte cochère.