Behind the Scenes at the Four Seasons
Published: April 2009
By Stirling M. Kelso
Rosalie Wise Sharp may be best known as the wife of Four Seasons CEO Isadore Sharp, but she has always played a key role in the family business. In her tell-all autobiography, Rifke: An Improbable Life (ECW Press; $19.95), Sharp, the child of Polish immigrants, gives a behind-the-scenes account of the hotel world, including her quibbles with her husband over matters like wallpaper versus paint. In 1972, Sharp started RW Design, creating ballrooms and bedrooms at Four Seasons, and many of her black-and-white interiors remain. Still, she downplays her role in the company’s success: “The only contribution I made to my husband’s business was silence. I thought his idea to build a hotel group was crazy, but I kept quiet.” Until now.