Wolf Hengst is recognized as a leading figure in the hotel hospitality & spa industry due to his vision and dedication to customer service that was the driving force behind Four Seasons Hotels continually redefining the standard for luxury and customer satisfaction over the course of his 30 year career with the Company.
In recognition of his contributions he was awarded the highly prestigious J.D. Power Founders award for outstanding, sustained contribution to customer service. He is only the 17th person (or company) ever to receive the award.
Additionally, Wolf was instrumental in the introduction of some of the first full service spas into hotels when he introduced the concept into Four Seasons U.S. in the mid-80’s, and continued to expand the concepts of luxury hotel spas across Asia and other parts of the world over his career.
Born in Berlin, Germany, Wolf Hengst was raised on the Mornington Peninsula, Australia. His immigrant parents worked in hotels where he had his first exposure to what would become his avocation. He received his hotel and restaurant education in Switzerland and Germany, before graduating from the Hotel School Heidelberg, Germany.
Mr. Hengst started his career with Hilton International in London and Paris before moving to the United States in the late Sixties to work for Hotel Corporation of America, which later became Sonesta Hotels. He was promoted to General Manager at the age of 29. In 1977 Mr. Hengst joined Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. In his role as General Manager he â€openedâ€ the first Four Seasons-built hotel in the United States in Washington DC. The hotelâ€™s uniqueness, service standards and success soon became the criteria for luxury hotels in the United States, and was prominently mentioned in the opening pages of the bestselling book In Search of Excellence written by management guru Tom Peters.
Mr. Hengstâ€™s career fast-forwarded to his promotion to Vice President of Four Seasons in the early Eighties, opening hotels in various parts of the U.S. In 1985 he became Vice President, Operations in charge of the Eastern United States, Caribbean and Europe and was part of the team that initiated the growth of Four Seasons Hotels, including the first full-service spas in hotels in those regions. When Four Seasons purchased Regent International Hotels in 1992, the leading luxury brand of hotels and spas in Asia, Mr. Hengst was appointed Chairman and President of Regent International Hotels and President Four Seasons Hotels Asia Pacific, headquartered in Hong Kong. In this capacity he led the integration of the two companies and their expansion throughout Asia.
In 1998 he relocated to the Four Seasons Home Office in Toronto, Canada to accept the position of Four Seasonsâ€™ Executive Vice President, and in 2000 was chosen to become President, World Wide Hotel Operations, reporting directly to the founder and Chairman, Isadore Sharp. By the year 2006 Four Seasons encompassed 72 hotels in 31 countries employing 33,000 workers. After 30 years with Four Seasons, Mr. Hengst retired in January 2007.
Also in 2007 Wolf Hengst received an honorary Doctorate degree in Hotel Business Management from renowned Johnson and Wales University, Rhode Island. In 2008 Hengst was awarded an honorary doctorate of laws degree from Pepperdine University, California.
Mr. Hengst has lectured extensively at universities around the world including Cornell, Essec Paris, Heidelberg, Houston and Miami. He is on the advisory board of the University of Houston Hotel School and Pearson English Testing based in London. He has served on the Boards of Laureate Education (now a privately held company in Baltimore) and is on the board of GMAC in Washington DC (a not-for-profit educational organization.) Hengst is currently chairman of the Board of Wahanda.com an Internet-based company in the Spa and Wellness field headquartered in London, board member of the Alain Ducasse Company based in Paris and a member of the board of Six Senses Resorts and Spas based in Bangkok.He was recently elected to the board of the famous Atlantic Theater Company of New York City founded by, amongst others, William Macey and David Mamet. Wolf Hengst lives with his wife Julia in Manhattan.