Four Seasons Case Study

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Four Seasons

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
Activities
Four Seasons is a Canadian-based company that manages an international portfolio of luxury five-star hotels and resorts. The brand which has become a byword for comfort and service started out with a modest motel in Toronto. The turning point came 10 years later in 1970, when the group opened its first overseas hotel in London. The success of this hotel set the future course for the company. It prompted a shift in focus towards medium-sized properties of exceptional quality offering personalised service around the clock. In the early 1990s, a second shift in focus saw Four Seasons start to move from hotel ownership towards management contracts. The group has three main business divisions:

• Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts: five-star hotels in major city centres and resort destinations • Four Seasons Residential Properties: luxury serviced homes • Four Seasons Residence Clubs: luxury timeshare properties

Company Perspectives:

We have chosen to specialize within the hospitality industry, by offering only experiences of exceptional quality. Our objective is to be recognized as the company that manages the fines hotels, resorts and resort clubs wherever we locate. We create properties of enduring value using superior design and finishes, and support them with a deeply instilled ethic of personal service. Doing so allows Four Seasons to satisfy the needs and tastes of our discriminating customers, and to maintain our position as the world's premiere luxury hospitality company.

History
Four Seasons Hotels Inc. is one of the world's leading hotel management companies specializing in luxury and resort properties. The company manages over 40 hotels and resorts in North America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Australia and the Caribbean, with an additional approximately 20 more under construction as of 1998. The company owns its own hotels, principally under the Four Seasons and Regent names, as well as some others, including the Ritz-Carlton in Chicago and the Pierre in New York. About half the company's earnings come from management fees, and half from properties it owns directly. Humble Beginnings

Four Seasons Hotels was founded by Isadore "Issy" Sharp. Sharp's father, Max, emigrated from Poland to Palestine in 1920, where he helped build one of the first kibbutzim. Relocating to Toronto five years later, Max worked for a few years as a journeyman plasterer; he married and began a family that would include his son Issy and three daughters. Drawing on his home renovation experience, Max Sharp soon began purchasing houses, repairing and decorating them, and then selling them at a profit. Issy Sharp had lived in 15 houses by the time he was 16 years old. Sharp attended Toronto's Ryerson Polytechnical Institute and won high marks in architecture while distinguishing himself in athletics. After graduating, he worked alongside his father building small apartment buildings and houses. Determined to build a hotel on his own, Sharp struggled for five years to find the money in order to fulfill his dream. Unable to convince banks and venture capitalists that his hotel would succeed, Sharp finally turned to his brother-in-law, Eddie Creed, owner of a high fashion emporium in Toronto, and Creed's best friend, Murray Koffler, founder and chair of the Shoppers Drug Mart chain. These two men contributed $150,000 each to Sharp's project. Still requiring over $700,000 in capital, Sharp approached one of his father's business acquaintances, Cecil Forsyth, who managed the mortgage department at Great West Life Insurance Company. Sharp's plan was to raise the rest of the necessary funds through a mortgage. Skeptical of Sharp's business acumen, Forsyth initially refused the application. However, he eventually yielded to Sharp's persistent requests, agreeing to provide the rest of the money. Sharp's hotel cost nearly $1.5 million to establish and featured 126 rooms...
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