Credit: Davies + Starr

Loyal Four Seasons guests might not find the hotel brand’s high level of service and quality surprising, but the story behind the man who created the company certainly is. Founder and CEO Isadore Sharp‘s memoir, Four Seasons: The Story of a Business Philosophy (Portfolio, $29.95), details how he turned his small construction business into a multibillion-dollar global enterprise. “I could never have predicted what this company would grow into; I didn’t come from the expected background,” says Sharp, referring to his humble upbringing in Toronto’s Jewish ghetto. He credits his achievements to trial and error (in-room shampoos, bathrobes, and mini-bars, yes; teleconferencing, no). “It’s about learning from and respecting your guests—and staff.” The Four Seasons now has more than 80 luxury properties (with 40 new ones in the works), all of which Sharp visits regularly. “People always ask me which is my favorite,” he says. “That’s an easy one: whichever one I’m in at the time.”