Four Seasons’ Isadore Sharp on his new CEO, development and luxury

In a recent interview to, Isadore Sharp, Founder and Chairman of Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts has spoken about his company’s new CEO, expansion plans and his future vision of luxury hospitality.

Speaking about the recently opened Four Seasons Lion Palace in St Peterburg which will be followed by Four Seasons Hotel in Moscow in 2014, Sharp said: ”I’m standing on Red Square looking at the building and I say, “How did this happen?” We are creating this building in the most important city in Russia, and it’s the Four Seasons. We’re just fortunate. Both St. Petersburg and Moscow, that’s a one-two punch. We’ve never had that kind of impact in any city. The outbound market that is going to come from here to other Four Seasons hotels is going to be a huge benefit.”

In the past decade, Four Seasons has no longer been operating over 30 hotels. Sharp’s response ”Even though there are over 30 hotels that we no longer own or operate, for whatever reason, every one of them has been an important building block in Four Seasons’ history. Every one of them. Even the ones that don’t even come close to looking like a Four Seasons today. At the time, it allowed us to take the next step. I’ve always thought that each time we’ve made a deal, that this is going to help the company. And they did. Whether it’s the first motor hotel in Toronto that got us started, or a training center in Belleville, Ontario, which was ridiculous.”

Asked about the next step in travel for affluent consumers, Isadore Sharp said: ”Everywhere. As Friedman says, the world is now flat. There’s not going to be anyplace that people won’t find out about, and they’ll be looking for more and more exotic places to go to. Like our elephant camp, with tents and 18 rooms, that’s spectacular. We will only go to places that can support a Four Seasons hotel. We’re not about to just go there because somebody wants to build a Four Seasons.”

On the upcoming Four Seasons resort hotel opening in Orlando, Sharp said: The one that will be a blockbuster for Four Seasons is Orlando. Fifteen years trying to get into that market. We’ve got in in such a way, that it’s well-worth the wait. I mean, Disney wants us in the park. The most important brand in the world believes they need Four Seasons.”

Speaking about Four Seasons’ newly appointed CEO, Allen Smith, with a non-hotelier background, Sharp told ”Allen Smith was not looking for a new job. He was in a job and he worked for the company for 25 years. He’s already a proven CEO, and he knew where his next 10 years were going to take him. His wife told me a story. They knew this search was out there in the market. And they both figured out it must be Four Seasons because no other company would talk philosophically about the kind of person they were looking for. I think she pushed him and said, “Allen, this is made for you.”

The full interview can be accessed on