Four Seasons Hotels Ltd., headquartered in Toronto, owns and manages luxury hotels and resorts worldwide. Architect and builder Isadore Sharp founded the company in 1960.
The first Four Seasons hotel opened in downtown Toronto in 1961. In 1963, the company opened the Inn on the Park in North York, a suburb of Toronto.
International expansion began in 1970 when Four Seasons opened the Inn on the Park in London, England. In 1972, the company launched a joint venture with Sheraton Hotels to open the Four Seasons Sheraton in Toronto. However, Four Seasons sold its stake in the large project in 1976. Isadore Sharp decided to stick to developing upscale, medium-size hotels. He sought to set Four Seasons apart from the competition by offering its guests unparalleled service.
In 1986, Four Seasons became a public company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. By the end of the decade, the chain included more than 20 properties across Canada and the United States.
Four Seasons purchased Regent International Hotels Inc. in 1992. Maclean’s reported that the deal grew the company’s network to 43 hotels in 17 countries. It gained a significant presence in Asia, in particular. Four Seasons had become the world’s largest chain of luxury hotels.
With his company short on capital, Isadore Sharp sold a major stake to Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia in 1994. Sharp, however, retained voting control of the operation. During the 1990s, Four Seasons also added more resorts to its network.
2000 to Present
The chain continued to expand in the 2000s. It established its first hotels in the Middle East, China and India. In 2007, Sharp partnered with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal to take the company private.
In the 2010s, Four Seasons established its first properties in Tanzania and Russia. It launched a private jet in 2014. Isadore Sharp remains chair of the company, which now owns or manages more than 100 properties.