Utmost Pampering at Four Seasons

RCA Winner Logo When it comes to choosing the best luxury accommodations and resorts in the world, one invariably finds Four Seasons among the top of most lists.

So it’s no surprise the long and storied collection has been chosen as the Best Resort/Hotel Chain for Luxury by Recommend readers, an audience familiar with the superb service and excellent amenities usually found at the properties.

According to Susan Helstab, Four Seasons’ executive v.p. of marketing, “[We are] incredibly honored to have won this award, as it is our mission to maintain a trust and connection with our travel partners in order to continually deliver an unrivalled luxury travel experience. For us, [this award] only reinforces our dedication to providing for our guests once-in-a-lifetime experiences that are both meaningful and memorable.”

Guests will find meaningful and memorable experiences to be routine during a stay at any of the collection’s plush properties. And Four Seasons has come a long way since it began in Toronto as the brainchild of Isadore (Issy) Sharp in 1961. Sharp at the time was working in his family’s construction firm and took notice of the substantial profits generated by a motel that the company had built. He decided to duplicate its success.

“Using one finger, I typed out a profit-and-loss statement on building and operating a 100-room hotel and eventually found three backers,” Sharp memorably told The Wall Street Journal. After a few months, the project was underway, but lacked a name.

“Someone suggested ‘Thunderbird,’” he continued in The Wall Street Journal, “but that didn’t sound right. In time, someone remembered a hotel we had stayed at in Munich. It was called Vier Jahrzeitein—’four seasons’ in German. I liked the sound of it and the name stuck. That was the extent of our market research.”

Today, Four Seasons’ 84 properties consistently rank as the favored hotel destinations among discerning travelers.

Helstab adds that while “Four Seasons remains a relatively small hotel company, there are many important destinations where we will seek to build or strengthen the brand’s presence…we are currently embarking on the largest international expansion in the company’s history, with more than 50 projects in some stage of planning or development. In the coming year, new openings will include properties in Russia, Azerbaijan, southern China and in our hometown of Toronto. Looking ahead, our presence in China will go from four to 14. We are also actively pursuing projects in Spain, Germany and even the U.S., where we have the deepest market penetration.”

According to Helstab, part of Four Seasons’ success is owed to its long relationship with travel agents. “Travel agents who book with Four Seasons can be sure that we share their goals. By creating memorable experiences, we are reinforcing the trust their clients have in them and their recommendations. We offer incredible value to our guests. Whether for business or pleasure, investing in a trip with Four Seasons is never a gamble. What stands behind our brand is a promise of consistent service and rewarding experiences.“

Although the luxury travel industry underwent a significant downturn during the recent economic crisis, Helstab confides, “Thankfully, we are happy to report that business is back. Overall, the luxury segment is seeing the highest growth in occupancy at the expense of lower tiers. Revenues per available rooms (RevPaR) in 2009 dropped between 15 percent and 30 percent, but in 2010, RevPaR was up 13 percent and occupancy rose by 15 percent. At Four Seasons, we’re seeing year-to-date RevPaR increases that are nearly double our competitors, which is very encouraging.”

The rosy economic trend and the addition of new properties will ensure that Four Seasons remains at the top tier of luxury accommodations in the near future.