Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

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Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
Industry Hospitality, tourism, hotel
Founded March 21, 1961; 55 years ago (1961-03-21)
Headquarters Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Number of locations
Key people
Isadore Sharp
(Founder & Chairman)
J. Allen Smith
(President & CEO)
Bart Carnahan
(Executive Vice President, Global Business Development)
Christian Clerc
(President, Global Operations)
Sarah Cohen
(Executive Vice President and General Counsel)
Mike Crawford
(President, Portfolio Management & Owner Relations)
John Davison
(Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer)
Ed Evans
(Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer)
Peter Nowlan
(Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer)
Simon Casson
(President, Hotel Operations-Europe/Middle East/Africa)
Vince Parrotta
(President, Hotel Operations-The Americas)
Rainer Stampfer
(President, Hotel Operations-Asia/Pacific)
Revenue Increase US$ 4 billion (2013)
Owner Cascade Investment
Kingdom Holding Company
Triples Holding
Number of employees
34,000 (2013)[1]

Four Seasons Hotels Ltd., trading as Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, is a Canadian international luxury, five-star hospitality company.[2] Travel + Leisure magazine and Zagat Survey rank the hotel chain's 98 properties among the top luxury hotels worldwide.[3][4] Readers of Conde Nast Traveler magazine have voted Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle in Chiang Rai, Thailand as among the top ten hotels in the world for three consecutive years.[5] The company has been named one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" by Fortune every year since the survey's inception in 1998, ranking #47 in 2015,[6] and is lauded for having one of the lowest employee turnover rates in the hospitality industry.[7][8]

Business model[edit]

Four Seasons Hotel in Florence, in the historic Palazzo della Gherardesca

Four Seasons does not own most of its properties; it operates them on behalf of real estate owners and developers. The contracts between Four Seasons and property owners typically permit the company to participate in the design of the property and run it with nearly total control over every aspect of the operation.[9]

Four Seasons generally earns 3 percent of the gross income and approximately 5 percent of profits from the properties it operates, and the property owners are required to additionally contribute money for chain-wide sales, marketing and reservations systems. Four Seasons hotels have larger staffs than competing chains, and therefore they create separate reserve accounts to cover upkeep costs. While profit margins are relatively low, the reputation of the brand and the value of the hotel for sale as well as loan collateral generates developer interest.[9] Four Seasons also produces a complimentary magazine for guests that is supported by advertising revenue. Four Seasons has a fractional ownership division, Four Seasons Residence Clubs.


Four Seasons Hotel (left) and Marina Tower (right) in Beirut Central District

Canadian businessman Isadore Sharp founded Four Seasons in 1960. While a young architect working for his father, Sharp designed a motel for a family friend that succeeded and inspired him to try creating his own hotel in Toronto. As the only large parcel of land he could buy was in a disreputable area, he designed the hotel as an oasis for business travelers; the Four Seasons Motor Hotel opened in 1961. Sharp built more hotels, but upscale luxury did not become part of the brand until the company expanded to London. When a developer approached Four Seasons about building a hotel in London, Sharp argued that the hotel should compete with the city's old-world, elite hotels, such as Claridge's and The Connaught, which he felt treated customers based on their social class. The hotel opened in 1970.[9]

Four Seasons Hotel and Tower in Miami, Florida
Interior of the Four Seasons Hotel and Resort in Macau. The lead consultant was the architecture firm Aeadas.[10]

In 1974, cost overruns at a Vancouver property nearly led the company into bankruptcy. As a result, the company began shifting to its current, management-only business model, eliminating costs associated with buying land and buildings. The company went public in 1986.[9] In the 1990s, Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton began direct competition, with Ritz-Carlton emphasizing a uniform look while Four Seasons emphasized local architecture and styles with uniform service; in the end Four Seasons gained market share.[9]

The first full-service spa was introduced in 1986 at Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas. Today, nearly all Four Seasons hotels and resorts have spa facilities, and the remainder offer spa services. In recent years, restaurants at Four Seasons hotels and resorts have been recognized by Zagat and Michelin. The latter has awarded at total of 12 stars to six of the company's restaurants, including Hong Kong (two restaurants), Macau, Paris, Florence and Los Angeles.

Economic downturns in the early and mid-2000s affected the company. When the September 11 attacks caused the collapse of the travel industry, Four Seasons refused to cut room prices in order to preserve the perceived value of the brand, which caused tension with property owners who were losing money.[9] The company recovered, and in 2007 it agreed to a buyout by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia for $3.8 billion.[11] The pair own 95 percent of the company, in equal shares, and Sharp owns the rest.[9]

Challenges returned again during the financial crisis of 2007–2010. The company made the first corporate layoffs in its history, cutting 10% of its Toronto workforce. In April 2010, after a year-long dispute with Broadreach Capital Partners and Maritz, Wolff & Co., owners of the Aviara resort near San Diego, an arbitration panel ruled that while both parties contributed to the demise of the business relationship, "Four Seasons didn't violate its management agreement, as Broadreach had alleged, according to a joint statement released by the companies. The panel ordered that Broadreach pay Four Seasons to terminate the contract."[12] The resort is no longer a Four Seasons.

Four Seasons continues to add more hotels and resorts to its portfolio, notably in China. It opened a new hotel in Hangzhou in 2010 and Guangzhou, Beijing, and a second property in Shanghai in 2012. It will also open new hotels in India to add to its one hotel in Mumbai.[13] In 2013, it opened its first hotel in Russia in the Lobanov-Rostovsky Residence in St. Petersburg, and announced an opening in Moscow in 2014.[14] In October 2012, Four Seasons opened a new Toronto property in Yorkville, designed by internationally renowned Yabu Pushelberg.[15] At 259 rooms this "marked the renewal of an iconic Canadian brand in its hometown. It also heralded the entry of celebrity chef Daniel Boulud."[16] This property also hosted the sale of its vaunted penthouse to entrepreneur Robert Österlund, the founder of Xacti, LLC and, for a Canadian record price of over $36M. This penthouse was designed by Isadore Sharp's personal designer, William Mockler, of Toronto's Drawing Room Architect, Inc. and was constructed by Menkes Developments Ltd.[17]

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts offers trips in a company-owned Boeing 757 with 52 seats.[18][19]

Residential Rentals[edit]

Four Seasons Hotels in Amman

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts expanded their business into vacation rentals, titled Residential Rentals, in June 2014.[20] These rentals are available in:

  • North America (Costa Rica, Houston, Jackson Hole, Nevis, Punta Mita, San Diego, Whistler, Vail)
  • Africa (Marrakech, Mauritius, Seychelles, Sharm El Sheikh)
  • Europe (Cap-Ferrat)
  • Asia (Jimbaran Bay, Chiang Mai, Koh Samui)

The model of Residential Rentals is based on providing the same services as Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in a residential setting. They were created as a way to target multi-generational and small group travel according to Jose Sorian, the VP of Worldwide Residential Operations for Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.[21]


The company and its hotels and resorts have long been involved in philanthropic programs, with a focus on supporting sustainability,[22] building communities,[23] and advancing cancer research.[24] Four Seasons was one of the founders of the Terry Fox Run in 1981, which has since grown into the world's largest single day cancer fundraiser, with events around the world every September. To date, the Terry Fox Run has raised close to half a billion dollars.[citation needed]

In 2001, Four Seasons Resort Maldives started collaborating with the local environmental organization Seamarc/Marine savers, which has set up an ambitious program of reimplantation of coral in damaged areas (known onsite as Reefscapers).[25] Many thousand of guest-sponsored "coral frames" have been transplanted with success in Kuda Hurra and Landaa Giraavaru resorts' reefs, and are under close survey by marine scientists; they constitute a refuge for thousand of tropical species, and participate in the preservation and recovery of these fragile ecosystems.

On June 19, 2002, the Canadian Opera Company announced Four Seasons Hotels as the naming donor for the COC's new Opera House, also home to the National Ballet of Canada, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, located in Toronto, Ontario.[26]


  1. ^ "100 Best Companies to Work For - Fortune". Retrieved 2015-07-30. 
  2. ^ "Company Overview of Four Seasons Holdings Inc". Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  3. ^ "World's Best 2014 | Travel + Leisure". 2015-06-25. Retrieved 2015-07-30. 
  4. ^ Richard L. Johnson (2007-05-01). "Zagat's Consumer Survey Rates Amanresorts and Four Seasons Best Hotel Chains in the World; Surveyors Found Four Seasons George V (Paris) the Top Large Hotel / May 2007". Retrieved 2015-07-30. 
  5. ^ "Top 100 Hotels & Resorts in the World". Condé Nast Traveler. 
  6. ^ Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts 2015
  7. ^ "100 Best Companies to Work For - Fortune". Retrieved 2015-07-30. 
  8. ^ "100 Best Companies to Work For - Fortune". Retrieved 2015-07-30. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g David Segal, Pillow Fights at the Four Seasons, The New York Times, June 28, 2009, Accessed June 30, 2009.
  10. ^ "Project page: Venetian Macau Parcel 2 - Fourseas Hotel & Podium MEP Works". 
  11. ^ Staley, Oliver. Four Seasons Hotels agrees to bid from Gates and Alwaleed. Bloomberg News, February 13, 2007.
  12. ^ Hudson, Kris (2010-04-20). "Hyatt Takes Over Management of Aviara Resort - WSJ". Retrieved 2015-07-30. 
  13. ^ Krystina Gustafson (2010-05-18). "Luxury Four Seasons Hotel to Expand in China". Retrieved 2015-07-30. 
  14. ^ [1][dead link]
  15. ^ "Four Seasons Hotel Toronto Builds Upon a Legend". Four Seasons Magazine. 
  16. ^ "New five-star hotels raise the bar in Toronto, Vancouver". Globe and Mail. Retrieved February 12, 2013. 
  18. ^ "FAQ". 1970-01-01. Retrieved 2015-07-30. 
  19. ^ O'Ceallaigh, John (2015-04-23). "Video : The Four Seasons Jet takes off". Telegraph. Retrieved 2015-07-30. 
  21. ^ "Luxe Home Rental Services". Trend Hunter World. 2014-06-19. Retrieved 30 September 2015. 
  22. ^ "Supporting Sustainability | Four Seasons Corporate Social Responsibility". Retrieved 2015-07-30. 
  23. ^ "Building Communities | Four Seasons Corporate Social Responsibility". Retrieved 2015-07-30. 
  24. ^ "Advancing Cancer Research | Four Seasons Corporate Social Responsibility". Retrieved 2015-07-30. 
  25. ^ "Reefscapers Story – Coral Reef Propagation". 
  26. ^ "Four Seasons Centre". 

External links[edit]