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Four Seasons: The Story of a Business Philosophy

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  288 ratings  ·  28 reviews
The founder of Four Seasons Hotels shares the philosophy and values that have made his legendary brand

How did a child of immigrants, starting with no background in the hotel business, create the world's most admired and successful hotel chain? And how has Four Seasons grown dramatically, over nearly a half century, without losing its focus on exceptional quality and
Hardcover, 302 pages
Published April 30th 2009 by Portfolio
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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Lori Cotton
Jun 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Great read for insight on creating a lasting brand.
Sep 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: business, own
This book is not without its issues, but overall I enjoyed reading it.

Great examples of hotel firsts, additions, and tweaks (my words) based on customer needs, even needs customers didn't know they had. A few good examples of wow moments. Interesting business considerations, especially for someone without a business background. For example, I hadn't really thought about "barrier to entry." Discussion and practical advice about how important culture is to success. I disagree with other
Mar 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book was just as good as the hotels it represents. for those in the hospitality industry this is the bible. i found the information in these pages to apply to my everyday life in both professional and personal relationships. i plan to use this guide to make my business the best. thank you Isadore
Nelson Thomas
Jul 05, 2012 rated it liked it
A brilliant and a very inspiring story! Issy (as he is fondly called) a child of immigrants made it big in a business completely incongruous to his upbringing. Today 'Four Seasons' is considered to be the epitome of relaxed elegance and understated luxury. A must read for every hotelier!
Rob Mills
May 21, 2019 rated it liked it
An enjoyable autobiography around an incredible entrepreneur. As with all of these books, everything is the best, he was the first at this or that, and his product was always top notch. You always wonder if it's really all true but even if it's a bit oversalted, it's amazing.

As a Torontonian, I thought his description of the city 80years ago was surprising. I also thought his family's struggles, formation, and attitude were extremely interesting. Amazing stuff. I was also wonderfully impressed
Feb 11, 2020 rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading this biography about the founder of Four Seasons. It was some 7 years ago, so I don't recall the details, but it was relevant for deepening my knowledge of how hotelier-entrepreneurs think.
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant and inspiring! This has became like a bible to me. Not just for those in the hospitality industry but also for the ones who need some inspiration and ideas on how to build an empire! I read it twice and I love it!
William Krasne
Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Story of the Canadian real estate entrepreneur who graduated from building apartments to founding the world's foremost luxury hotel company. Isadore Sharp hammered home treating the customer right and working with integrity. Not a groundbreaking read but a solid, decent book.
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Having reported on the hospitality industry for six years now, this book was a super interesting read on the beginnings and growth of Four Seasons. Great anecdotes and practical lessons as well.
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good story until around 2/3's of the book, from then it becomes repetitive.
Kristi Herold
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great read; incredible story and incredible man to have created all that he has!
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The life and story of the Torontonian who created one of the most famous hotel brands. Many lessons shared on business, and on the hospitality and real estate industry.
Kim Schultz
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very interesting to learn about the history of one of the world's greatest hoteliers. The book was very slow to get into but an interesting read none the less.
Blog on Books
Mar 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Talk about a class act. Growing up in a modest family whose patriarch was in the construction business would not necessarily portend what was to become of Isadore Sharp and the Four Seasons Hotel empire he created. From his first hotel, a run of the mill, 125 room motor hotel (motel) in Toronto in 1961, to building and managing an operation that includes 83 of the some of the world's most impressive properties across 35 countries, Sharp has instilled a philosophy that puts service and luxury ...more
Angelo Vassallo
Jan 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: management
A fascinating book about the foundation of a big international luxury hotel chain! It is really interesting how Sharp developed his company and overall his motivation, the anecdotes and the relationship with his employee, partners and later with the shareholders.
Even if I am working for Hilton, I have to say that in some pieces I found the book more interesting of Be my guest by Conrad Hilton, maybe because the language and the facts are closer to me in terms of time.
A common aspect of the two
Aug 11, 2014 rated it liked it
I confess I was a little disappointed. Although this is probably a good history of the group and touches on the core philosophy that has made four seasons so successful I would have liked to learn more about how to instil and maintain such a culture. I realise as well that Isadore Sharp believes very strongly in his people but perhaps could have done without the list of people and their brief biographies that added nothing to the story itself.
Jul 18, 2013 rated it liked it
I don't usually read business related books but I heard Isadore Sharpe was an interesting man. This book is really about how he developed the brand to reach a 5 star status and less about his life. It was very interesting to me because I did not know that he was from Toronto, my home town. I also did not know that the Four Seasons had so much integrity.
Christopher Lewis Kozoriz
The power of a global brand name is more important and valuable today than ever before. ~ Isadore Sharp

Written by the founder of the Four Seasons Hotel and Resort chain. Isadore started off developing houses in Toronto, Canada and then decided to build a motel and the rest is history.

The best lesson one can take away from this story is "do not despise the day of small beginnings".
Shayy Tamang
May 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A true businessman with high business morals and ethics, henceforth, his pillar of success. If you have passion for hospitality, aspiring to make a career in it and want to explore the secret behind the success of Hotel Four Seasons I urge u to invest your time in this book as there are many useful tips and hospitality insights given by himself The Respected Isadore Sharp.
Tom Armstrong
Apr 04, 2011 rated it it was ok
Rather boring. Really more a history of the hotel line than anything to do with business. Worth reading if you have a particular affinity for Four Season's. Other, it's just Sharp repeating again and again that Service is of paramount importance...shocking!
Tanner Maluchnik
Two words: Customer Service
Fred Arshoff
Sep 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Very imformativce
Spencer Thompson
Feb 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Incredible Business Philosophy
Russ McLeod
May 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Love the culture that Isadore created in Four Seasons hotels. Great learnings from this title around culture, core values and discipline.
Martin Bihl
Jul 21, 2009 rated it it was ok
please see my review in advertising age:

you can also see my review here:
Oct 11, 2012 rated it liked it
Engaging, fast read. Good mix of personal and professional anecdotes. A few parts dragged on a bit, though I loved the story.
Jun 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
i learned a lot and im happy i read it. i take much more notice of things when i stay in hotels now.
Much more than a business man...a true human.
rated it really liked it
Jun 06, 2014
Jason Klarfeld
rated it it was amazing
Sep 08, 2016
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