What makes Four Seasons tops

It's easy to spend a lot of money on a hotel room -- or in a restaurant -- and have a lousy experience. Why?

In Bali I got so disillusioned by poor service at so many restaurants -- price seemed to make no difference -- that I made a trip out to Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay. Although Jimbaran Bay is rated one of the best hotels in the world, the restaurant is not overpriced. Four Seasons Hotels are dependable that way: you invariably get value for your money.

WSJ reviewed a book by Four Seasons founder Isadore Sharp today, and this passage stuck out:
The core reason for the Four Season's staying power, Mr. Sharp believes, is a credo that may sound almost quaint: Follow the Golden Rule. Workers, he says, are vital assets who should be treated accordingly. At most hotel companies, he notes, housekeepers, cooks, bell staff, waiters and clerks are often the lowest paid and "the least motivated people." But at the Four Seasons, those who might otherwise be considered the most expendable "had to come first," because they were the ones "who could make or break a five-star service reputation."

Turning the top-down management philosophy on its head, Mr. Sharp authorized every Four Seasons employee to solve service problems as they arose and to remedy failures on the spot. Managers were told: "Keep your egos in check and let the people who work for you shine." Mr. Sharp says that it took years to weed out of the company the many managers who disagreed with this philosophy and could only see staffers as a cost.
Expensive hotels that refuse to invest in their employees are never worth the money. Unfortunately, most hotels are like that.

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