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Christopher W. Norton

President, Global Product and Chief Operating Officer
“We are dream makers, conjuring at once contentment and excitement. When a guest steps into one of our hotels, there’s an immediate realisation that what they are about to experience is going to be fantastic.”

 

As a teen, Chris Norton was fascinated by a friend’s family-run hotel and restaurant business located on the outskirts of Zurich. He recalls, “Working at the hotel was an obligation for my friend, but for me it was a window into a new and exciting world.” Not long after that first experience, he became an apprentice at the famed Baur au Lac in Zurich, where he rose at 4:00 am each day to prepare the mise en place for breakfast. For Chris, the smell of coffee and toast signals the fresh start of a new day.

Today, Chris oversees global hotel operations, and shapes the look and feel of Four Seasons with a similar sense of optimism.  “Our aim is nothing short of being recognised as the very best in every destination where we operate, whether it’s the accommodations, a restaurant or bar, a spa or gym, or hosting great events.”

To achieve this vision, Chris brings together company talent along with top international designers, architects, and the best operators in the business to deliver the highest standards of quality and personal service for which Four Seasons is known the world-over.

Responsible for the end-to-end guest experience, Chris remains confident that the company’s legacy of creativity and innovation will continue to exceed guest expectations.  Underlying it all?  The personalised service for which the brand is renowned, and the “casual elegance” that characterises both the style and comfort guests will enjoy anywhere in the world at Four Seasons.

Career Highlights

  • At Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts: Chris joined Four Seasons in 1989 as an Executive Assistant Manager at the former Le Quatre Saisons, Montreal. Since that time, he has managed properties across the globe including Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay and Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan where, under Chris' leadership, readers of Condé Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure ranked the Bali resorts #1 in the world. In 1999 Chris was appointed Regional Vice President, overseeing properties in Indonesia, the Maldives and Singapore. From 2007 to 2012 he served as General Manager of one of the company's flagship properties, Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris, consistently voted the best hotel in the world in traveller surveys and reviews, while also overseeing properties in Europe, North Africa, the Indian Ocean and the Middle East in his capacity as Regional Vice President. In 2012 he was appointed President Hotel Operations, Europe, Middle East and Africa. In addition to his regional responsibilities, Chris chaired the company's Global Spa Task Force for 10 years, overseeing Four Seasons spa efforts worldwide. Under his leadership, Four Seasons was recognised by the 2011 SpaFinder Reader's Choice Awards as the Best Brand Overall and as the Reader's Choice for Best Resort Spa Brand by Spa Magazine. Chris was promoted to President Global Product and Operations in 2014; and to his current role in 2016.
  • Previously: Chris’ early career included stints at the infamous Watergate Hotel in Washington, DC, Boca Raton Resort & Club in Florida, and the Ritz-Carlton New York.
  • Education: After his apprenticeship at Baur au Lac, Chris graduated from the prestigious Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland.

Personal Insights

  • Most memorable vacation with Brigitte, his wife of more than three decades, and his three children, Christina, Adrien and Charles: The Maldives. Chris reflects, “To venture off a tiny white sandbank under an endless blue sky into the fish-filled waters of the Indian Ocean is to find oneself in another world.”
  • Nickname bestowed by his kids: “The Boss Man.”
  • How his employees describe him: Leads by example and expects the best; always composed no matter what’s going on around him; great sense of humour.
  • Advice to young people starting out in the business: “Keep an open mind and take it all in – even the most mundane tasks become part of your memory bank and help form who you will be as a hotelier and restaurateur in the future.”
  • Hygiène de vie: Chris subscribes to the French philosophy of a balanced life, believing that if one lives a healthy lifestyle, one can excel both professionally and personally.
  • Where you’ll find him when his tie is undone and his suit jacket is off: Playing the piano, hitting the open road on his motorcycle, or relaxing at his family hideaway in Aix-en-Provence in the South of France.