Presented by the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, the award honours the lifetime achievements of hospitality and travel industry visionaries, recognising their professional and philanthropic contributions that have transformed the global hospitality industry and society.
“True visionaries lead by example. They see what the future can be, decide to act, and inspire others to follow their lead. In the world of luxury hospitality there is no greater visionary than Issy,” said J. Allen Smith, President and CEO, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.
“Issy’s passion for hospitality, his unwavering commitment to the highest standards of excellence, and his incredible generosity are an inspiration to us all,” continued Smith. “On behalf of 43,000 Four Seasons employees worldwide, who share a deep sense of pride in being part of the remarkable Four Seasons story, we extend heartfelt congratulations to Issy on this important recognition of his leadership and vision.”
In 1961 Isadore Sharp opened the first Four Seasons, a motor hotel in Toronto. He approached the business from a guest’s perspective, asking “what would they value?” And from this premise, many innovations were born. From pioneering approaches to service to setting the standard for in-room amenities and the bold rethinking of hotel features, Four Seasons came to define modern luxury travel.
Today, the company, which continues to leverage its focus on a single brand and an unwavering commitment to luxury hospitality, operates 99 hotels, resorts and branded residences in 41 countries. With a pipeline of more than 50 projects at various stages of development, Four Seasons continues to grow its global portfolio, further enhancing its well-earned reputation for operating some of the best and most highly awarded hotels in the world.
“It’s no secret that from the very beginning it has been the people of Four Seasons who have played the most significant role in our success,” said Isadore Sharp, Founder and Chairman, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. “Receiving this recognition is a great personal honour and, equally as important, a chance for me to celebrate the collective efforts of many.”
“I started out with a vision of what I believed luxury hospitality could be, but it was Four Seasons employees who brought, and continue to bring, that vision to life,” continued Sharp. “Every day they deliver a genuine, personal style of service that has earned us the trust and loyalty of the world’s most discerning travellers.”
With a guiding philosophy based on the Golden Rule – the simple idea of treating others as you would have them treat you – Sharp empowered Four Seasons employees to deliver the highly personalised brand of service that would become synonymous with Four Seasons the world over. Today Four Seasons employees around the world share a commitment to service excellence that embodies the guiding values and philosophies set out by Sharp.
This commitment to service is also reflected in the company’s culture of giving and social responsibility, which is focused on advancing cancer research, building communities and supporting sustainability. Sharp is the founder of the annual Terry Fox Run, the largest single-day fundraising event for cancer research worldwide, which has raised more than CAD 700 million to date. Today, introducing Terry Fox Runs in cities where Four Seasons operates is one of the many ways the company supports efforts to find a cure for cancer.
The Cornell Icon of the Industry Award is the latest recognition for Sharp, who is the proud recipient of many global awards and honours celebrating his business achievements and lifelong commitment to philanthropy.