INSIDE THE DOMAIN OF FOUR SEASONS' FOUNDING FATHER

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INSIDE THE DOMAIN OF FOUR SEASONS' FOUNDING FATHER

BeingSharpInside theDomain of FourSeasons’Founding FatherIt’s hard to imagine luxury hotels without shampoo bottles or 24-hourroom service. Yet this was the case before Isadore Sharp arrived on the scenein the early ’60s and changed the concept of the luxury hotel forever. Thefounding father of the Four Seasons speaks with Haute Living about leadership,philanthropy, and the golden rule that governs his life and business.By Ayesha KhanShot by Carlos Valle on location at the Sharp winter residence inPalm Springs, CALorem ipsum dolor onamet, consectetuer96 Haute Living FLHaute Living FL 97


The Four Seasons Istanbul at theBosphorus, set to open this springThe Four Seasons Bora Bora,set to open this summerThe Four SeasonsHong Konghost of amenities coined by Sharp and the Four Seasons that travelers have cometo expect of the luxury hotel industry. Others include telephones in bathrooms,the idea of a luxury bathroom with full-size cotton bath towels, bespoke bedsand bedding, soundproof rooms, 24-hour room service, overnight laundry, andnon-smoking floors. “Stanley Marcus of Neiman Marcus said in a quote once thatwe had the softest toilet paper he’s ever used, and anyone who is thinking of thatsmall detail must be thinking of a lot of other good things,” recalls Sharp.But beyond this string of firsts is a one of a kind philosophyspawned from Sharp’s true dedication and devotion toteamwork, perhaps a remnant of a lifetime of sports. “Iwas quite irresponsible as a youth. My time was spentplaying sports, and my life revolved around sports.Playing sports certainly had an effect on me, becauseit teaches you how to play with team players. It’s a veryhumbling experience winning and losing, and teachesyou not to lose heart, and that there’s nothing wrong with trying and failing. Seeingthe company as a team has always been part of my direction in terms of runningthe company. It’s not what one can do; it’s what we can get many to do. And Ithink recognizing the efforts of many is what makes a team a success,” recallsSharp, alluding to the Super Bowl. “The first year the Patriots were in the SuperBowl, they were the underdogs. When they introduced the other team, each playercame out separately, bigger than life on the screen, and the coach came out afterthem. When they introduced the New England team, they all ran out together andI thought, ‘There’s a brilliant coach. There is a man who knows how to get the bestout of his players.’ And they went on to win the Super Bowl. So I use that as ametaphor when talking to my staff, because that is what it’s all about.”When he’s not raising the bar of luxury and motivating his employees, Sharpcan be found at his Palm Springs home, dedicating time to his wife andthe philanthropy that he, like a true gentleman, never flaunts. “You growup and realize that you’re fortunate to have succeeded, and that it is yourresponsibility to give back. It’s a way of life and a natural way of saying thatour good fortune should be shared in the best way we can. It’s a part of myupbringing—my parents were very poor, but they gave of themselves, alwayswanting to help others, and I think you learn, not by what your parents tellyou, but by what your parents do.” Sharp was a founder of the Terry Fox Run,a worldwide event that has raised more than $500 million. Furthering theefforts of cancer research strikes a special chord with Sharp, who lost hisyoungest son, Christopher, to melanoma. “My fourth son really wanted to bein the hotel business,” recalls Sharp, with the palpable sorrow of a dedicatedparent still impacted by the loss of a child.But, like a true sportsman, Sharp is never one to dwell on his losses, which,along with his unfading smile, is his single most commendable quality. And itis this quality that has fuelled his success. When asked to identify his greatestmentor, Sharp says, “Those who devote themselves to a higher cause withoutasking any rewards. They are very principled people, and it is those kinds ofpeople that I have always looked up to. They are willing to put their own lives onthe line for what they believe in.”Now co-owned by Sharp, Bill Gates and Saudi Arabia’s Prince Al-Walid binTalal, Four Seasons plans to expand in Mumbai, Dubai, Florence, Seattle, anda host of other exotic destinations, eventually raising its winning worldwideportfolio from 75 to 106.102 Haute Living FLHaute Living FL 103

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