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Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts President Christian Clerc: “Legacy is not measured by professional or financial success, but by the positive impact you have had on the people around you”

Treating everyone by The Golden Rule. I truly believe it is at the core of improving personal relationships, the workplace and society at large. Whether employees, friends or family, people give their best when they’re truly valued, better positioning them to show that same respect to others. I believe that legacy is not measured by […]

Treating everyone by The Golden Rule. I truly believe it is at the core of improving personal relationships, the workplace and society at large. Whether employees, friends or family, people give their best when they’re truly valued, better positioning them to show that same respect to others. I believe that legacy is not measured by professional or financial success, but by the positive impact you have had on the people around you.


We had the pleasure to interview Christian Clerc, President, Global Operations, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.

Christian oversees global operations, ensuring that each property in the company’s growing portfolio represents the highest standards of quality and service, working closely with teams in its corporate offices as well the company’s growing portfolio of hotel and residences worldwide. His role encompasses hotel operations, people and culture operations, sales and hotel marketing, design and construction, food and beverage, and ultimately, the guest experience.

“Luxury today is about time well spent and the creation of memorable experiences,” says Christian. “At Four Seasons, we pride ourselves on creating meaningful personal connections between our guests and our people,” noting the company’s successful growth rests on its singular corporate culture. “One of the most important things we do is encourage our employees to get to know one another and care for each other.” By fostering a company culture built on empathy, trust and mutual respect, employees are empowered to be themselves and focus on creating extraordinary guest experiences.

This commitment to excellence also extends to Four Seasons award-winning restaurants and bars, a source of continued growth and innovation. “Across each and every property, our restaurants and bars serve as a gateway into the world of Four Seasons for local clientele, and a way for visitors to connect to
a destination.”

As Four Seasons continues to expand its portfolio, Christian also leads the design and construction teams, partnering with world-class talent to develop architectural and design innovations that reflect each locale and that strive to meet the evolving needs of today’s luxury traveller.


Thank you so much for doing this with us Christian. Can you tell us what brought you to this specific career path?

Iwas born and raised in Montreux, Switzerland where I was introduced to the hotel business at a very young age. At the turn of the century, Montreux became a resort town and built several beautiful palaces to welcome tourists coming to climb the nearby mountains as well as those who were stopping on the Orient Express. In Montreux, I was truly immersed within the exciting world of hospitality and this inspired my journey to Four Seasons. From this early age, I was attracted to a career in hospitality and went on to École Hôtelière de Lausanne to pursue this passion further.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I’ve been incredibly lucky to have worked at many of our properties around the world, including Paris and Washington D.C., among many more, before joining the corporate team. In every role I’ve held, there is always something new and interesting to keep you on your toes.

If I had to choose one notable story, it would be when a guest of ours lost her baggage en route to our Washington hotel, where she was headed to get ready for a gala event at the White House to honor her husband — a renowned composer and orchestra conductor. Her luggage had her gown, shoes, accessories, makeup, everything, and the event was only several hours away. Our team quickly got in touch with our local contacts and shops and helped this prominent guest get ready in the nick of time.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Year after year, our guests tell us that it’s the moments of unscripted care that they remember the most and that they value as the true hallmark of luxury. I think much of this is owed to our guiding philosophy which are based on The Golden Rule: to treat others as we’d wish to be treated ourselves. This simple principle empowers employees to treat others with respect, creating an environment of trust and where they can be themselves. This is what truly differentiates us from other hospitality brands, affirming our belief in the power of emotional intelligence and the importance of a corporate culture grounded in empathy and respect.

There are too many stories to count, as these moments of surprise and delight happen at our properties every single day. Whether it is one of our security staff members stepping in to officiate a wedding at the last minute, returning a beloved stuffed toy to one of our smaller guests, jumping in a cab or even on a plane to return vital medication or passport, or creating a new menu item to remind guests of the comforts of home — our employees are always willing to go the extra mile for our guests, and looking to make a lasting impact.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? Can you share a story about that?

We encourage employees to be themselves at work and to let their personalities shine, ensuring we are prioritizing emotional intelligence across the organization; ultimately, we want our employees to connect with guests in the most genuine way possible. This self-awareness is critical and can certainly help prevent burn-out in any industry.

At Four Seasons, we also have an employee program called “Be The Guest” that allows employees worldwide to experience Four Seasons properties, not only to better understand our company from the point of view of the guest, but to also have the opportunity to rest, recharge, and enjoy their time with Four Seasons as a valued member of our global family. We have also recently launched an initiative called Take Your Time, encouraging employees and guests to make the most of their time while travelling, inspiring them to connect to the people and places of Four Seasons at our properties around the world.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Isadore Sharp — the Founder and Chairman of Four Seasons — has always been a role model and mentor to me. Mr. Sharp’s vision has been an inspiration; he is a remarkable leader, creating a successful company and culture grounded in kindness and mutual respect. Mr. Sharp recognized early on that treating our employees as we would want them to treat our guests meant delegating authority as well as responsibility, empowering employees across all levels of the organization. He often reminds us that people may sometimes forget what you say, but they will always remember “how you made them feel”. Mr. Sharp is a remarkable mentor and I am fortunate to have had him as a role model throughout my career at Four Seasons.

Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?

Four Seasons has long understood the importance of corporate culture and the employee experience, and we’ve fostered a company culture that prioritizes emotional intelligence (EI) as a means of cultivating creative risk-taking that then serves as a driver of innovation. To affirm this commitment to EI, we’ve recently partnered with Harvard Business Review Analytic Services (HBR-AS) to further explore the advantages of EI skills in the workplace — attributes that focus on self-awareness, self-control, social skills and empathy.

The report confirmed what we’ve long known to be true — that EI is the cornerstone of innovation, successful risk-taking and ultimately satisfied employees. As a brand powered by our people, we take a human-centric approach to everything from technology innovations to hotel room design to curating our Private Jet itineraries and beyond. We are continuing to put people at the centre of everything we do; with each change and innovation we often use the EI lens to understand what will make the greatest impact on both our guests and employees.

An example of this is our App and Chat — an award-winning offering the appropriately balances both technology and emotional intelligence. Understanding many guests communicate on their mobile devices, our App is one of the only in the industry to be powered by real people, not chatbots. So, when our guests connect with us, they are chatting with someone at the property where they are staying — it could even be the same smiling face that greeted them in the lobby.

Guests can chat in over 100 languages, and since launching in 2017, we’ve received over 7 million messages with 75% of responses occurring in 90 seconds or less. The program is also designed to be user-friendly for our employees, so that they can serve our guests with ease and confidence both in-person and on the App. It has truly revolutionized the Four Seasons guest experience and represents a Four Seasons innovation that embraces technological innovation while prioritizing emotional intelligence.

Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation?

A common paint point felt by many people today is the lack of human connection and understanding — something that’s compounded by the feeling that many are time-starved and skimming through life. That is why it is so important to recognize the importance of EI and take a human-centric approach to everything we do. With Four Seasons App and Chat, we worked hard to find a balance between the necessity of technology, while including a distinctly human touch.

You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?

Any vacation is perfect for me if I get to experience it with my family and loved ones. Time is the one thing that we cannot buy or make more of — it is precious and so I always want to make the most out of my vacation. I try to avoid over-planning and tend to leave plenty of time for connecting spontaneously with the people and places that we visit. I love food, so this is always a central part of any vacations for us.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Treating everyone by The Golden Rule. I truly believe it is at the core of improving personal relationships, the workplace and society at large. Whether employees, friends or family, people give their best when they’re truly valued, better positioning them to show that same respect to others. I believe that legacy is not measured by professional or financial success, but by the positive impact you have had on the people around you.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

For the latest news, visit press.fourseasons.com. Follow @FourSeasonsPR on Twitter and @FourSeasons on Instagram and Facebook.

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