Founder, Chairman & CEO of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
|With the opening of the first Four Seasons hotel in downtown Toronto, Isadore "Issy" Sharp founded a groundbreaking hotel company. Today, Four Seasons is the only company exclusively focused on mid-sized luxury hotels and resorts, with a history of innovation in customer service.
Sharp became interested in architecture and construction at a young age. After graduating from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in 1952 with a degree in architecture, Sharp joined his father full time in the family construction business. After a client asked them to build a motel near the Canadian National Exhibition, Sharp decided that he wanted to build his own hotel. With the financial investments of his brother-in-law and friend, the first Four Seasons Hotel began to take shape.
Sharp's first hotel was located in a lower-class part of downtown Toronto. Sharp designed the hotel around an inner courtyard so that the guests would not have to look out at the surrounding shady neighborhood. The Four Seasons Motor Hotel opened in 1961 and, with a cost of less than $1 million, it was an immediate success. Under Sharp's leadership Four Seasons Hotels expanded slowly into the world-class hotel company that it is today.
Numerous Four Seasons properties have won the Five Diamond award from the American Automobile Association multiple times. Four Seasons also has appeared on Fortune's list of the 100 best companies to work for in America.
Sharp has served as director of the Council for Canadian Unity, governor of the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews, and director of the Terry Fox Run, an annual fundraiser that supports cancer research. The Sharps lost their son Christopher to melanoma when he was 17. In 1983, Sharp received the first Ruth Hartman Frankel Humanitarian Award for his work with the Terry Fox Run.
Sharp has won numerous awards throughout his career, including CEO of the Year from Financial Post magazine in 1992. In 1998, he was inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame. In 1999, he received the International Distinguished Entrepreneur Award. In 2000, he was inducted into the Hospitality Industry Hall of Honor.
Sharp and his wife Rosalie reside in Toronto, Canada.