Isadore “Issy” Sharp (b. 1931) is a Canadian hotelier and writer, and founder and Chairman of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, the luxury five-star hotel management company.
Issy was born in Toronto to a family of Polish Jewish immigrants. His father Max worked as a plasterer and later renovated homes, selling them for a profit as a real estate investor. During the summers while at high school, Issy obtained experience in the construction business by working for his father. In 1952, he graduated with a diploma in Architectural Technology from the Ryerson Institute of Technology, and went to work for his father. After designing a motel for one of his father’s clients, Issy was inspired to found Four Seasons in 1960, opening his first hotel on Jarvis Street, Toronto the following year. More hotels followed, although it was not until the 1970 opening of The Inn on the Park London – later, Four Seasons Hotel London – that Issy incorporated the luxury element into the brand.
During the 1980s, Issy unveiled flagship hotels in a dozen US cities and the company began to transform itself from a hotel owner-operator into a management company. In the 1990s, the company focused on expanding its portfolio in resorts and introduced luxury leisure to a significant number of destinations in Europe and Asia. As its fifth decade began, Four Seasons had 50 properties, on every continent except Antarctica. Four Seasons Private Residences and other branded residential offerings were integrated with Four Seasons locations. In 2006, Bill Gates and Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal took Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts private for $3.4 billion.
Issy remains Chairman and Chief Executive of the company that he built up over more than 50 years, and has been honoured on many occasions, with multiple lifetime achievement awards from the travel industry. In 2011, he was inducted into the Hall of Leaders by the US Travel Association.
Isadore was honoured by the British Travel & Hospitality Hall of Fame in 2013.