5 Visionary Hoteliers and How They Changed the World of Hospitality
It's often small ideas that make a big difference - and they make the difference between good and outstanding hoteliers. Visionary hoteliers not only move, they revolutionize.
September 20, 2023
Isadore "Izzy" Sharp
Claim to Fame: Founder of luxury hotel brand Four Seasons
The vision: The hotelier, born in Toronto/Canada in 1931, founded a brand around 60 years ago that was to lay the foundation for the luxury hotel industry. His golden rule became the guiding principle of his hotels. It states that people you treat as well as you would like to be treated will treat you well too.
© By Photographer: Israel Press and Photo Agency (I.P.P.A.) / Dan Hadani collection, National Library of Israel / CC BY 4.0, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=91189789/Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts
The employees in the now more than 120 hotels and resorts worldwide therefore always do more for their guests than they have to. Besides, Four Seasons was the first hotel brand to have its own Full Service Spa. Already in 1986. If that's not pioneering work!
Claim to Fame: Acclaimed Winter Tourism Founder in St. Moritz
Vision: According to an (unsubstantiated) anecdote, Johannes Badrutt made St. Moritz what it is today: a first-class winter sports resort. He was the owner of a guesthouse in the mid-19th century (now the luxurious Kulm Hotel St. Moritz); at that time, guests came exclusively for the summer resort. Then Badrutt bet a group of English guests that the sun would shine in St. Moritz even in winter. He enticed them by promising that they could stay as long as they wanted - if they weren't satisfied with the weather.
© Unknown, upload by Adrian Michael - http://www.kulmhotel-stmoritz.ch/, Public domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17863539, Badrutt's Palace Hotel
In fact, the English came in the winter of 1864 and stayed until long after Easter. When they returned home tanned, it was the best advertising in rainy England. His son, Caspar, opened the Badrutt's Palace Hotel in 1896 - still one of the best in town. And a member of the Leading Hotels of the World.
Sonu & Eva Shivdasani
Vision: Visionary hoteliers sometimes come in pairs. As in the case of Eva Malmstrom, a Swedish model, and Sonu Shivdasani. He once already founded Six Senses - the brand still stands for exclusive vacation experiences with a high wellness content in Southeast Asia and Europe. He sold Six Senses in 2012.
© By Rissalouise - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47294082, Soneva
During their honeymoon, the beautiful hotels they stayed in inspired them to create their own brand. The result was Soneva Fushi. Other eco-resorts in the absolute luxury segment followed. The couple made a name for themselves for their humanitarian commitment and sustainability strategies.
Claim to Fame: Founder and CEO of Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts.
Vision: The native Austrian has lived on the Caribbean island of Aruba for more than 50 years. On the smallest of the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao), he is considered a tourism pioneer: Already decades ago, the careful use of resources was an important concern for him. Not only in his hotel, the Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort, but also all around, many sustainability strategies are implemented thanks to his commitment.
© Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort
Local suppliers and even the government are cooperating with Biemans in realizing his vision of making the island completely CO₂-neutral. His hotel already is - it's considered the most sustainable hotel in the world. Here, guests generate electricity while exercising in the gym, for example, by using the treadmills. And in order to keep imports low, people on the island also like to agree on who needs what. Barack Obama presented Biemans with the Tourism for Tomorrow Climate Action Award for his commitment.
Claim to Fame: Founder and CEO of Nayara Resorts.
Vision: For 15 years now, Leo Ghitis, the founder of a total of six luxury destinations under the Naraya Resorts umbrella, has been one of the outstanding personalities in the ranks of sustainably minded hoteliers. He offers his guests experiences in the lush green rainforest of Costa Rica or under Chile's starry skies - at least in the most remote places in the world. Eight years ago, Naraya bought a mountain and began one of the most successful reforestation projects in the world.
The team planted more than 40,000 trees. And that was truly no easy task. Today, however, sloths and monkeys already live in the newly planted forest. In Panama, Naraya built houses on a piece of land. The employees can buy them for low mortgages. This gives even less wealthy employees the opportunity to build a life for themselves.