Could the new CEO of Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts be a non-hotelier?

Bill Gates and Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, the two billionaires who control 95% of Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts are keen to expand the business as fast as possible, to 150 hotels worldwide from the current 90. After the surprise departure of Kathleen Taylor (a company veteran for 24 years) more than a month ago, headhunters look for a new leader for the company, Four Seasons, being run, in the meantime, by a nine-person committee.

There are said to be internal candidates, but no one will be startled if the new boss is an outsider more in tune with its owners’ ambitions. He or she may not even be a hotelier. In 2007 Starwood, a rival chain, hired a boss from Molson Coors, a brewer; Frits van Paasschen’s appeal was his record in making a brand grow.

Some Four Seasons staff are nervous. They fear that rapid expansion  can affect service, which may, eventually, damage the brand.

adapted from The Economist

Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou, China