Isn’t it encouraging witnessing a Canadian success story in foreign markets? I am not talking about lumber, minerals or oil but The Four Seasons Hotel “chain”. Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts was founded in 1960 in Toronto. Its first hotel, the Four Seasons Motor Hotel, opened on Jarvis Street the following year. Since that time, Four Seasons has followed a targeted course of expansion, focusing on opening in destinations whereits guests need to travel for business and want to visit for leisure. Today, Four Seasons operates 88 hotels and resorts in 35 countries, and continues to be guided by the Canadian values upon which it was founded. Interestingly enough, despite its Canadian roots it is now a holding of the Kingdom Holding Company of Saudi Arabia, chaired by a Saudi, Prince Alwalledbin Talal, which has ownership interests in Walt Disney, Citigroup, Apple, Pepsi, Fairmont Raffles Hotels and Time Warner. Despite being under non-Canadian control The Four Seasons corporate head office continues to be in Toronto.
The mission statement of The Four Seasons is as follows, “We have chosen to specialize within the hospitality industry by offering only experiences of exceptional quality. Our objective is to be recognized as the company that manages the finest hotels, resorts and residence clubs wherever we locate. We create properties of enduring value using superior design and finishes, and support them with a deeply instilled ethic of personal service. Doing so allows Four Seasons to satisfy the needs and tastes of our discriminating customers, and to maintain our position as the world's premier luxury hospitality company.” You have heard this mission statement before in numerous variations to the point it is meaningless chatter. Not so with The Four Seasons Ritz Lisbon where it was flawlessly executed in my recent visit. The Four Seasons has been swallowed by a large holding company. Fortunately corporate integration has not hurt quality.
The Four Seasons Hotel chain has a stellar reputation to maintain as a luxury hotel with impeccable service delivered by well trained staff. It certainly started for me upon my arrival at the Four Seasons Ritz Lisbon with doors of my limousine being opened with a sincere welcome to the hotel greeting and bags hoisted out of the car and ready to be promptly delivered to the room. Smooth and efficient check in with impeccably English speaking front desk staff all very formal but polite and welcoming. As for architecture the huge richly and tastefully decorated lobby hammers home the luxury theme. A well-staffed concierge desk was invaluable.