Is Philly’s Four Seasons In Winter?

The "luxury" hotel has seen better days

Lately, I’ve been hearing chatter among the city’s business elite that Philadelphia’s Four Seasons just isn’t what it used to be. One tipster said that the company might actually be pulling out of the market. And on my own recent visit to the property, built back in the days when Bill Green Sr. was the mayor and the Philadelphia 76ers actually won a championship, it seemed more like a Convention Center Marriott than an “elegant … five-star luxury” property, as the website promises.

One local hotel industry expert says that when it comes to keeping occupancy rates up, the Four Seasons may just be too big: “Three hundred and sixty-four rooms is a lot for a luxury brand, outside of New York,” he explains, adding that the luxury-class Rittenhouse—which boasts a better location, overlooking the Square—only needs to fill one third of that. There is hope that the relocated Barnes could provide a much-needed infusion of customers. “Something tells me that the kind of person who travels around the world to see a collection of Impressionist paintings is exactly the kind of person who wants to stay at the Four Seasons,” the expert says.

Ann Armstrong, Four Seasons marketing director, squelched departure rumors in an email: “There are no plans for Four Seasons to pull out of the Philadelphia market, and our ownership remains committed to upholding the high standards of the Four Seasons brand.” Armstrong notes that the hotel has recently undergone “esthetic renovations” in its lobby and has upgrades planned to the spa next year.

All that sounds good, but so does the fresh and modern Palomar for $100 a night less.