Starting Tuesday, a different sort of crowd will congregate at Fashion Island.
But it won't be hitting the trendy shopping center for Fiorucci shoes and handbags.
In all, about 3,000 people are expected to converge on a storefront employment office to apply for 300 jobs at the soon-to-be-opened Four Seasons Hotel near the Newport Beach mall.
Housekeepers, gardeners, stewards and the like will be interviewed from Tuesday through Friday, while candidates for more visible positions, such as desk clerks, bell attendants, waiters and waitresses, will be interviewed the following week, said Laura Sheppard, human resources director for the Toronto-based hotel chain.
Starting wages will range from a low of $3.50 an hour for waiters and waitresses to a high of $14 an hour for carpenters and electricians, she said.
With rooms starting at $140 a night, the 319-room Four Seasons will contribute to the change in image of the Orange County hospitality industry that began when the elegant Ritz-Carlton opened in Laguna Niguel. Industry analysts compare the local transformation to the luxury hotel boom that swept San Francisco in the 1970s.
Although some Ritz-Carlton employees, as well as those of other hotels, have submitted resumes to the Four Seasons, Sheppard said she has not attempted to woo workers away from the competition.
"We've made it clear to all our people here that we don't recruit at other hotels," she said. "If employees of the other hotels come here, that's OK, but we don't actively recruit in other people's properties. When you're the new kid on the block, you want to have good relations with the other hotels."
Sheppard said most positions should be filled easily, but because of Orange County's higher cost of living, it may be tougher to fill some of the lower-paid openings.
Many previous Four Seasons interview sessions have taken place on unfinished construction sites, where diversions and facilities were minimal. Refreshments and entertainment were often included, making for a circus-like atmosphere, Sheppard said.
However, because this week's interviews will be inside the mall, things will be more low-key. "We're not doing the big-party scene because it would be distracting for the merchants," Sheppard said.
Because the Four Seasons is uncertain about the local labor pool, Sheppard said the interviews are being split into the two periods to permit "a reading of the crowd" and altering of interview plans in the event of low turnout.
"If by Wednesday, we don't have any crowds we maybe will have to do something more creative, like taking out more ads or talking to community groups," she said.