The Story Behind An Icon: The Four Seasons Hotel

Back in 1961, Isadore Sharp alongside his partners Murray Koffler, Max Sharp, Eddie Creed and Fred Eisen opened the first Four Seasons hotel in Toronto.

Although the first Four Seasons offering stood miles apart from the five-star hotels and resorts the luxury resort offers across the globe today, the humble motor hotel in downtown Toronto was the first stepping stone towards Isadore’s hotel empire.

Despite never having plans to enter the hotel business on a large scale, Isadore successfully built and developed Four Seasons into a multi-million dollar luxury accommodation group that is now a household name.

With some 100 properties across the globe, including resorts and rental ‘private retreat’ homes, Four Seasons is a leading global luxury brand.

Focused on delivering premier service, Four Seasons quickly found success outside of Canada after opening Inn on the Park London in 1970.

With a vision of providing a ‘down-to-earth hotel’ for those who are ‘put off by the stuffy formality of traditional grand hotels’, Isadore successfully won over his British partners to open a hotel that was luxurious without being pretentious. The Inn on the Park London, now named Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane, won Europe’s hotel of the year.

Early in the company’s history we decided to focus on redefining luxury as service, and that became our strategic edge.

Isadore Sharp in a Four Season press statement

Sharp at his winter home in Palm Springs | Source: Kendrick Brinson Fortune Magazine

From there, Four Seasons continued to expand into the US and beyond while establishing an ethos anchored in high-quality personalized service. In demonstrating its commitment to service, Four Seasons became the first hotel group to offer 24-hour room service and in-bathroom amenities.

By 1985, Four Seasons introduced its luxury rental properties or ‘Private Residences’ which offer the ability to live the luxurious Four Seasons lifestyle every day and is now a standard feature of Four Seasons properties across the globe.

From inner-city penthouse apartments to coastal havens, the Private Residences are undoubtedly opulent, and as such, attract affluent buyers.

In consolidating the luxury brand, Four Seasons also became the backdrop for iconic films. The Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire became the main setting for Pretty Woman and a Four Seasons Resort in the Bahamas was the backdrop for Casino Royale.

Image: Beverly Wilshire was one of the filming locations for Pretty Woman (1990) | Source: Los Angeles Magazine

The Beverly Wilshire was also home to Hollywood stars like Elvis Presley and Warren Beatty who both lived in the history-rich hotel for a period of time. According to Four Seasons, fans still send letters to the stars who used to live in Beverly Wilshire to this day.

While Isadore stepped down as CEO back in 2010, the Four Seasons founder continues to be involved in the design concepts and aesthetics of the hotels as chairman. Founding his empire on enhancing the guest experience, Isadore continues to reiterate the importance of service in the luxury accommodation industry.

With around 100 luxury properties around the world, Four Seasons has not only established itself as a top luxury accommodation provider but also a preeminent brand in hospitality, with Four Seasons’ restaurants and bars proving to be drawcards in their own right.

With many high-profile celebrities making Four Seasons their first choice of accommodation or dining, it’s not usual to find celebrities at a Four Seasons hotel.

Looking to the future, Four Seasons states on its site that it will continue to focus on ‘exceptional service’ and solidify its place in the future of luxury hospitality. In 2021 Four Seasons celebrated its 60th anniversary and opened several new properties including in Madrid and Bangkok.

Image: Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences Madrid | Source: Four Seasons

This article originally appeared on Fancy

About the author


Hi! I’m Ozzie!

Before joining Australia Exploring, I was a writer at Tripadvisor.

I'm looking for the best posts for you about travel adventures in Australia and around the world. This website has the purpose to inspire you to travel… travel more and better. I hope it can help you explore the world a little bit better.

I graduated from the University of Sydney. I live in California with my wife and two children.


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