Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon began life as an idea in the mind of António de Oliveira Salazar in 1952. Approaching Ricardo Espírito Santo Silva, a modern crusader dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Portuguese artistic and cultural heritage, Salazar expressed his desire to build a representational hotel to meet the demands of international tourism following the Second World War – a hotel of which Lisbon, and Portugal, could be proud.
The ten inspired Portuguese entrepreneurs chosen to turn Salazar’s vision into reality formed the Sociedade de Investimentos Imobiliários (SODIM) on August 28, 1953. The untimely deaths of visionary Ricardo Espírito Santo Silva in 1955 and original architect Porfírio Pardal Monteiro in 1956 failed to deter the group’s creative enthusiasm. It was at this time that Queiroz Pereira, natural leader from the outset, secured his position as the group’s principal director. In the years that followed, it was under Queiroz Pereira’s legendary guidance and leadership that the original "idea for Lisbon" flourished into the Hotel that we see today.
Built with the aim of imparting upon the city a modern legacy, the modernist structure was complemented by façades, interior walls and floors clad with a colourful array of more than 40,000 square metres of the most beautiful and rare marble. Henri Samuel, the acclaimed French interior designer, was given the colossal task of conceiving the environment of the Hotel’s greatest areas of prestige. The effect of the overall concept, associating an art deco tendency with a Louis XVI style, was magnified by the choice of materials used and the unrivalled quality and finishing of the traditional Portuguese craftsmen employed.
With an enviable scale of space and refined interior concept, the Hotel offered the world outside its walls a chance to be immortalised within. A host of notable local artists, from painters to sculptors, were invited to bestow their own individual and vibrant legacy of decorative arts.
Representative of national values and the independence of the Portuguese spirit, the eclectic mix of sculptures, paintings and tapestries made the Hotel as veritable a museum of contemporary art as any found on the steep climes of the city outside. The room styles, originally entrusted to an array of decorators and designers favouring as large a diversity of tastes as possible, still, in many respects, hold true today. The slight differences in more refined details purposefully illustrate the cosmopolitan nature of society for which the Hotel was built, as well as demonstrating the newly embraced variety of style of the post-war period at the time of its original conception.
Managed by Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts since 1997, the personality of the Hotel today is as profoundly acute as that born in the minds of its creators. Despite undergoing a few full-scale renovations since its inauguration in 1959, including more recently by the highly acclaimed Portuguese architecture studio Oitoemponto,the preservation of the Hotel’s original spirit is ensured by Queiroz Pereira’s son, Pedro Mendonça de Queiroz Pereira.
Just as the bond of family values transcends time, so too has the original spirit of Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon. It still is, and always will be, a hotel that "throughout its existence, should provide luxury, and comfort, dignify the city and, above all, honour the nation." (Queiroz Pereira, November 24, 1959).