In the past three years, Four Seasons has unveiled a dozen new hotels and resorts in locations as diverse as Baku, Shenzhen, Baltimore and the Serengeti. More new openings in the near future include properties in Orlando, Moscow, Dubai, Johannesburg, Seoul, Kyoto, Bahrain, Tanzania, New York, Morocco, Delhi and Madrid.
“Four Seasons is not a huge company compared to the global hotel sector but we do have the biggest global reach in the luxury hospitality segment” says Christopher Norton. “When I joined the company 25 years ago, the group only had 18 hotels. Today we have 92 properties with more than 60 at various stages of development. However we are not about growth at any cost, but continuing a pace of growth that is compatible with preserving our brand reputation. Growth is important because our clients are looking for us in places where we are not yet present. The rate of expansions we have planned over the next 24 months is exceptional, but so is the quality of the new properties we are opening, all in iconic locations.”
Great hotels are associated with a lifestyle
“Four Seasons is not in the business of manufacturing. Sleeping, drinking and eating are, in a way, commodities - but great hotels are about the way you feel and about being associated with a lifestyle. The art, at our level, is the quality of delivery in real time - so there is bit of theatre to it to create memorable experiences. Essential to making this happen is our human capital, our greatest asset. We have established detailed processes on interview hire so that we pick the best men and women. Then we make them feel part of a winning team and of the brand. Having really the best hotel staff means that they are able to read the clients’ needs without even asking.”
“The people that choose our brand have high expectations. The business travellers that we see are most often C-level executives, presidents and senior vice-presidents. Executives at this level cannot afford for things not to run like clockwork and time is their most precious commodity. We help them maximise their time and effectiveness to achieve the purpose of their trip. For example this year, we began offering company-wide, complimentary Wi-Fi connections in all house cars and contracted limo services at all Four Seasons locations, all around the world.”
Customising the client experience
“To be a leader in the luxury hotel sector, you need to customise the experience to the client. ‘Cookie-cutting’ the product is acceptable for mid-sector hotels but at this level, in the upper luxury tier, every client is an important individual. We are committed to not just growing bigger, but better. As we expand, our priority is ensuring that we continue to provide unparalleled service with reliability and consistency, while making the experience as unique as our guests are