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History of Four Seasons Hotel


The essay investigates the history of the hotel, which was founded in 1961 and changed the face of modern hotel’s luxury service. The work exposes the process of development of Four Seasons Hotel. It observes decade after decade chronologically, discovering the most significant historical points of company development. Each paragraph of the essay observes particular time period describing the main events that took place and which changes the time has brought.

The main purpose of the work is to identify the process of development and ways of success achievement. The essay is aimed to make reader understand how a little hotel in Canada turned out to be the greatest international incorporation in the hospitality industry.  

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Background Information

Four Seasons is the global company, which manages five-star hotels all over the world. The main descriptive feature of Four Seasons is the luxury service. The hotels are known all over the world for its fantastic service and internal culture. The company was awarded as the one of 100 best companies to work for (CNN Money, 2010). Four Seasons has got its success due to positive treatment and well-organized hospitality. Four Seasons possesses hotels, resorts, and residents almost in all continents. The amount of hotels reaches 90 nowadays. Each of them is unrepeatable. The hotels’ organization is based on the golden rule, which touches any sphere of hotel’s life (Sharp, 2009). The rule says: treat another as you wish to be treated. Moreover, the brand used new approaches and ideas to encourage travelers to visit its resorts. These are main reasons why Four Seasons got success and turned out to be the best modern hotels with the luxury service.

The first hotel was opened in 1961. The Canadian based company deals with the hotel industry over 50 years. The highest standards, continual innovation, remarkable expansions, and single-minded dedication transformed the hotel into the international business with the best hospitality traditions. The main advantages of four season hotels are friendliness and the finest traditions of luxury service for tourists.

Chronological Observation

To investigate fully historical changes and development of the brand, one shares the time into decades.

The 1960s

While building the first hotel, there was no goal to enter the business on a great scale. However, during 1960 – 1969, Issy Sharp, a young builder and architect constructed and build three Four Seasons Hotels. The hotels were particularly focused on guests and their needs. It was a new kind of hotels, which turned out to be successful and prosperous. It was a birth decade of Four Seasons Hotels (Sharp, 2009). The first hotel was opened in the first spring day on downtown in Toronto, Canada, in 1961. The 125-room motor hotel took five years for Isadore Sharp and turned out to be the hotel with more personal style of service. The first hotel was opened with the only one principle: each client must be treated as a special guest. In 1963, the second Four Seasons Hotel named Toronto’s Inn on the Park was opened. Peter Dickinson architected the second hotel, as well as the first one. His innovative design of hotels became typical for Four Seasons Hotels. This hotel was sophisticated urban-resort with the top restaurants. The hotels built in 1960s launched the chain of the successful restaurants with the luxury service.  

The 1970s

During next 1970 – 1979, the main principle of hotels turned out to be a principle of luxury. It started when the Four Seasons Hotel was opened in London, England. The tone for future direction of hotels’ development was set in the London hotel. It had pioneered the signature of Four Seasons services, which are delivered worldwide. Four Seasons Hotel London needed to be particular one because there were enough grand hotels in London already (Guiteras, 2011). This played a key part making the Four Seasons Hotel London to be a no-frills alternative. During this decade, Four Seasons Hotels in Canada were opened, and the portfolio of the company included the first management contacts with the USA. Till 1979, the Four Seasons Hotels were built all over the USA named by their own brand. The first hotel in the USA was located in Washington, DC and was mentioned in the introduction to In search of excellence by Tom Peters.

Absolutely new approach for service made London Inn on Park (the initial name of the hotel) become Europe’s hotel of the year. It has long been known that Issy Sharp introduced his plan of the hotel to the royal family with a Hyde Park-area property before starting to build the hotel in London. However, the partners argued as for conception of the hotel service. Sharp saw the strategy of service absolutely different from the existing one in London at that time. Finally, he convinced the royal family that the best strategy for the hotel is a personal approach and down-to-earth strategy. Sharp created the hotel not for dukes and duchesses; he launched the hotel for people who want to be treated in that way and appreciate the traditions of grand hotels.

During its history, Four Seasons Hotel has made few significant decisions that formed the pillars of its business platform. The first decision was about quality. At the dawn of the 1970s, Four Seasons Hotel in London was the very thing people needed in the new age of international jet traveling. The small, central and well-pointed hotel with personalized and friendly 24-hours service quickly became popular in royal London. Admittedly, Four Seasons focuses on being the best in each location, with medium sized hotels of exceptional quality.

The decision about service was the second key element of Four Seasons business platform. The company has moved its sights to the South, by the mid-1970s. Choosing the conception on the business, Four Seasons Company decided that high quality service would bring success in the South as it was in Four Seasons London.

It is significant to understand that the luxury service of Four Seasons Hotels is defined not by decor or architectures but by particular service. That is why the quality of service is a distinguishing feature and a competitive advantage of all Four Seasons Hotels (Segal, 2009). In 1976, the first management contract for Four Seasons Hotel in the USA was started in San Francisco.. Few years after, customers recognized it as the number one hotel in America.

The 1980s

From 1980 to 1989, Four Seasons as the name of brand came into its own. The hotels were built in 10 biggest USA cities including Chicago, Dallas, Los-Angeles, Philadelphia, etc.  During this decade, the company was transformed from a hotel operator into a Management Company. The company started to operate mixed-use hotels. It was a new approach to the business development and new concept at the time. The expertise of Four Seasons Company was extended into high-quality residential environments.

During this time, the third strategic decision that creates the business platform was set up. It related the company’s culture. Four Seasons always had an implicit operating philosophy. The golden rule of the company is to treat others (clients, partners, suppliers, employers, etc.) in the way one wants to be treated. The company’s culture is based on this rule. Moreover, Issy Sharp and his partners are active participants of different against cancer programs. They raised millions of dollars for cancer research annually. The humanity of owners and their treatment for clients attracted visitors to Four Seasons Hotels all over the world.

In 1985, the first branded private residence was introduced. It was located in Boston. Since then, Four Seasons Lifestyle attracts more and more people. Till the 2000s, two-thirds of all Four Seasons Hotels have got the residential component. In addition, the full-service SPA was opened in 1986. Year after year, Four Seasons has been developing attracting new visitors and improving the quality of luxury service. In 1989, Four Seasons reached 10,000 of employees. 

The 1990s

Across 1990 – 1999, the company has growth around the world. At the beginning of 1990s, Four Seasons brand arrived as the North American leader in hospitality. During this decade, the company was expanding resorts. The company forecasted the demand of leisure experiences for a new generation and offered an exceptional facilities and service in exotic countries. According to these changes, the Four Seasons Hotels were presented as the best destinations in Europe and Asia, as well.

In 1990, the first Four Seasons Tropical Resort was opened. It was located in Maui. The resort was quickly claimed as the best in class. In 1992, the first Four Seasons Hotel was opened in Asia. Later that year, Four Seasons Company purchased Regent International Hotels and took an additional Asian destination. Already in this year, Four Seasons Company exceeded 20,000 employers and 10,000 guest-rooms. The year 1993 brought great changes in business approach (Sharp, 2009). Four Seasons started transforming historic treasures in ancient cities such as Istanbul, Budapest, Paris, Milan, and Florence. The 1997 was a very important year for Four Seasons; the stocks of the company were presented on the New York Stock Exchange. However, one year later, in 1998, the company was presented in the Fortune magazine’s list, as one of 100 best companies to work for (CNN Money, 2010).

The 2000s

From 2000 till now, the Four Seasons is known as a global luxury brand. The company keeps growing around the world. The Four Seasons hotels are located in all continents except Antarctica. It welcomes guests and presents the best service in 50 properties. In 2007, a deal was agreed. According to it, Bill Gates, the owner of the Microsoft and Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, one of the major shareholders of Four Seasons company got the company in their private ownership. The family of Isadore Sharp retained a significant share in Four Season Company. Nowadays, all branding offerings were integrated with resort and urban locations. The Four Seasons brand had become the icon of luxury and life quality (Guiteras, 2011).

The dedication to perfecting traveling experience will never change. Therefore, the hospitality business develops with the time. The founder of Four Seasons Hotels did not follow the time; he predicted future demand and supplied it. More than ever, the hotels present highly personalized 24-hours service, elegant surrounding of the highest quality, embodies the home being away from it for those customers who like and appreciate the best. During 50 years, the company has grown from the single hotel to 90 hotels, resorts, and residents in 36 countries. However, the strength of the company keeps getting stronger day after day.

The Service Culture of the Company

The analysis of the company proves that its service is oriented to satisfying its customers. The culture of Four Seasons Hotels is majorly grounded on the people working there, those who they are, what they believe, and how they behave. The hotels are preferred all over the world because the staff offers only exceptional quality. It depends on the main objective the company possesses. The objective is to be recognized as the company possessing the best hotels wherever they locate. There is no doubt that this goal is reached. The properties of the company were created using finishes and superior design. Moreover, all these are supported with the instilled ethic of personal service (Segal, 2009). Therefore, Four Seasons Hotels are able to satisfy tastes and desires of discriminative customers. As the result, the company takes the position of the world’s premier luxury company in hospitality industry. The main principle of the Company’s service is a particular attitude to the clients.

The Four Seasons Company provides the program when the sustainable tourism will enhance and protect the destinations where the company operates for generations to come. In addition, Four Seasons brand is bothering about surrounding world. It supports the sustainability. The corporate ideas, in spite of the best luxury service, are to protect the planet, as well. Such social and human cautiousness attracts people to visit the world-known hotels and take part in preserving and protecting the planet from total pollution.

Four Seasons Hotels have changed the face of modern luxury travel. It was absolutely new concept to the industry; it took a lot of time for founder to realize it. Competing with the oldest and the most glamour hotels, Four Seasons brand has done a fantastic job and became highly regarded hotels all over the world. It has got a reputation stellar service and ability to please their clients. Almost all Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts include the top-notch spa facilities and fine dining establishments. When a guest eats in the Four Seasons Restaurants he knows that he gets the best.

The four Seasons is a brand, which symbolizes quality, best service, and the excellent treatment the staff can ever offer (Guiteras, 2011). This company changed the way the hotels treated their gusts and launched worldwide luxury traveling.

According to Isadore Sharp, there is one way to characterize the Four Seasons Hotels’ service. It is some kind of mutual respect exchange, which is performed with an attitude of kindness. He also argues that there is no concrete reason to the company’s success. The success of the brand comes down to one single principle that transcends the geography and time, culture and religion. Service is the primary objective in any hotel business. However, the Four Seasons Hotels differ very much from the rest hotels due to the way the service is delivered to its customers.

Four Seasons Advantages

The essay observed Four Seasons from the visitor’s point of view. However, there are over 20 000 employees who deal with Four Seasons Inc. everyday. It is interesting to investigate their opinion and treatment to the work. They say that the staff in each hotel seems to be a big friendly family. It is important to have good mood and love the job you do in hospitality business. It depends on the fact that the customers emotionally feel the hostility of the staff and welcome back to Four Seasons. The main principles of business organization, proclaimed by Sharp are quality, culture, and service, which make an excellent stem for business organization and make the company appreciated in worldwide hospitality sphere. The staff says that the employers bother about them doing their best to improve working conditions.

Observing the history of Four Seasons, it seems that the company chooses the rule: never stop developing. Managing the most popular luxury service hotels, resorts, and residences, it keeps looking for the ways to attract visitors and travelers (Segal, 2009). The authority of the company was using tropic, exotic, urban, ancient, etc. factors to increase popularity of their brad hotels. However, a traveler never stops wondering about Four Seasons. The hotels have comfortable location, 24-hour room service, friendly staff and everything one needs for a good rest.

Being an international brand, Four Seasons have a great amount of shareholders. These people are known all over the world. That is why Four Seasons brand gets a high point in its development.


To sum it up, it is interesting to note that the number of Four Seasons Hotels increases each year. The management team does not stop developing customers’ attracting schemas. They do not afraid of innovations and extremely new approaches to the business organization. One of the tendencies used for Four Seasons brand benefit is a shocking effect. With each new hotel, Four Seasons surprise the clients with some new and unpredictable features. First, the brand has involved royal service for each client (London). The other step was to build hotels with an exotic location (Caribbean Islands). After that, Four Seasons started to build hotels in ancient places to attract more travelers (Budapest, Istanbul, and Milan). In addition, the hotels possess SPA services, diving, great restaurants, etc.

It is believed that Four Seasons Brand never stop wondering with its hospitality, luxury service, tasty dishes, comfortable rooms and friendly staff. The golden rule of the company ‘treat client as you want him treat you’, makes the service and atmosphere in the hotels to be great. The visit for Four Seasons is unforgettable for majority of tourists. That is why a particular Four Seasons image turned to be a lifestyle recently. 

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