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Origin, Development and Modern State of the Four Seasons Holdings Hotels

Four Seasons Holdings became a reality on the first day of Spring of 1961 when Isadore Sharp opened his first hotel in downtown Toronto, Canada, later becoming the Corporate Office of Four Seasons Holdings Inc. The success of his first hotel, and the key ingredient to the future successes of others down the road, was simply to “treat every customer as a special Guest”. Not too long after was the construction of Four Seasons second hotel: Toronto’s Inn on the Park. Throughout the years, the company has expanded further and grown tremendously. What started with a man with the vision and his farther as the contractor, it eventually set the standard for how hotel experiences should be. With that being said, not only did Isadore and Max Sharp help bring the vision to reality, but CEO J. Allen Smith, and CFO John Davison are the ones within the corporate offices today ensuring that the basic principle the company follows, is consistently followed.

While the company follows the basic principle of premier customer service, and guaranteed guest satisfaction, there are numerous other ways in which the company goes about extending its brand name, most of which were unintentional but occurred as a result. One such act would be that of Terry Fox in 1981. Terry Fox was an ordinary man who unfortunately lost a leg to cancer. Due to this, he went about planning a “Marathon of Hope” in which he would run from coast to coast of Canada in an effort to raise not only awareness, but also money in support of ongoing cancer research. Isadore Sharp just so happened to be the first contributor and sponsor of the event, pledging $10,000 to Terry’s cause, as well as wrote to other Canadian companies urging them to participate as well. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, Terry’s cancer returned 143 days later and he was forced to stop before completing his challenge. From there, Isadore made it his own personal mission to reach out to Fox’s family to promise that an annual marathon would be held in Terry’s name. With the support of the Canadian Cancer Society and other organizations, the first Terry Fox Fun Run was arranged in 1981, drawing more than 300,000 Canadian participants and raising over $3.2 million towards cancer research. Though unintentional, it placed Four Seasons in the spotlight as Mr. Sharp took on the task of introducing the Terry Fox Runs to every city in which Four Seasons operates in, and holding the annual run every September.

Furthermore, while the company impacts society positively, it could still be seen a bit risky to enter the business head first without an prior knowledge of the company’s finances. The stock market alone proves to be the most complex at understanding, especially being that as it turns out, Four Seasons Holdings, Inc. has gone from private to public to private again. That being said, they do have shareholders and do issue stock, but none of it is done on public exchanges and are not offered through a public offering. This in turn leaves the exchange symbol, current stock rate, and previous history unattainable to the public.

With that being said, Four Seasons Holdings has gone private twice now throughout its existence: when it was established, and most recently in 2007. However, not much is known as to why they went private, other than the fact that it involves Bill Gates, Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal’s Kingdom Hotels, and a $4 billion dollar deal. Together, they own 95% of the company in equal shares, whereas Founder Isadore Sharp owns the rest.

Competition alone drives a business to not only succeed, but to also out-beat the competing business. In terms of the Hospitality business, Four Seasons Holdings Inc is in direct competition with The Ritz-Carlton Resort Hotels. Both companies’ tend to offer the Guest similar amenities during their stays, as well as premier guest satisfaction to keep them coming back. In 2011 alone, J.D. Power and Associates conducted a survey on the primary basis of the “best” resort Guests tend to stay at. The Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons were both the top choices in overall customer satisfaction, however as luck would turn out, The Ritz-Carlton topped the chart with the highest ranking of 858 out of 1,000, whereas Four Seasons ranked at 852.

Today’s trends help us realize potential flaws within and teach us ways in which to handle those flaws. In the 21st century alone, we have seen an increased usage of online reviews as well as several new twists at accommodating those requesting room service. As more and more people become frequent web users, more ratings are given out about Four Seasons rapidly each day. This not only allows the company to grow further and act upon each review as necessary, but also allows them to see their current stance in the economy and how they guests view them compared to other competing resorts and hotels. Going further, room service has also seen a new twist in several different resorts and hotels, whereas others have removed it completely due to demand being extremely low. However, at Four Seasons, room service continues to be the same, and at the standard Guests expect: European-Style. However, to accommodate those busy travels, it is now offered 24-hours, 7-days a week.

All-in-All, Four Seasons Holdings, Inc. has held its ground for nearly fifty-four years now, and will continue to be on the up-and-up. Premier customer service and guest satisfaction contributes whole heartedly to the success of this company, and has very little chance of erupting. As times change, so does it – in a positive and clearer light than before. While Four Seasons may have its competitors, it will always be the original, and seen as the one company that set the standard for what resort-living should be. While it continues to grow, so do others, and its financial position within the industry remains to rise at unbelievable levels as it has in previous years. Guest expectations of Resorts and Hotels will constantly change, but as they do, Four Seasons will be the one to provide their guests with the level of respect and courtesy that started it all.

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