Guido de Wilde, Senior Vice President, Regional Director Middle East, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Guido de Wilde, Senior Vice President, Regional Director Middle East, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide

01. Guido de Wilde, Senior Vice President, Regional Director Middle East, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide

Under Guido De Wilde’s watch, Starwood has grown in leaps and bounds in the last 12 months winning him the number one spot on Hotelier Middle East’s Power 50 ranking

Guido de Wilde is the inimitable leader of Starwood Hotels & Resorts in the Middle East, and has seen the operator grow from strength to strength in this region over the last year. In his role, de Wilde is responsible for the operation of all Starwood properties in the Middle East (over 50 hotels and resorts) and leads the development of Starwood’s brands in this rapidly expanding region.

In the last year, Starwood introduced The Luxury Collection in Lebanon with the opening of Grand Hills Broumana, along with the Westin in Qatar with the opening of Westin Doha Hotel & Spa — a long-awaited opening. Another launch for Qatar includes the first Luxury Collection in the country, signed in Lusail, along with a Le Méridien hotel.

In the UAE, The St. Regis Dubai opened at the end of 2015, with W Dubai Al Habtoor City getting a soft launch in June 2016. The Westin Dubai Al Habtoor City is scheduled to open this month. Sharjah also saw the launch of Starwood’s first hotel, with the Sheraton Sharjah Beach Resort & Spa, and another first, this time for Ras Al Khaimah with the first Starwood signing — the Four Points by Sheraton Ras Al Khaimah.

Expanding into secondary and tertiary cities as well, Starwood signed its first property in Unaizah, Saudi Arabia, the Four Points by Sheraton Unaizah. Saudi Arabia is also set to see the brand debut of Westin and Element hotels, both signed for Riyadh. Under his aegis, Starwood introduced Aloft in Saudi Arabia in August with the opening of Aloft Riyadh, to be followed by Aloft Dhahran this month.

All of this no doubt showing the importance of the region for Starwood Hotels & Resorts. De Wilde tells Hotelier Middle East: “The Middle East continues to be an important market for Starwood’s overall global strategy and our development teams have done a great job in growing our portfolio in the region. Starwood continues to look for opportunities to expand its brand portfolio in the region by working with the right partners in the right places on the right properties. We are now on track to operate 100 hotels in the region by 2020.” It also operates more than 300 restaurants and bars in the Middle East.

Emphasising the importance of guests and relationship-building, he notes: “I believe effective communication, collaboration and alignment are vital for success. Working as a team and with respect for all team members is key for me. It is important to be easily accessible and establish a culture of open dialogue. And to be an effective leader, I honestly believe one must never stop learning and should continue doing more than what people expect from you.”

On a personal note, a satisfying accomplishment for de Wilde has been the Road to Awareness initiative. Over the past nine years, Starwood has raised over US $6 million for UNICEF.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts has, of course, been acquired by Marriott International — but at the time of writing, the two companies are separate entities, awaiting final anti-trust clearance. Here’s to another year of phenomenal growth by Starwood brands!

By the numbers:

11 Number of years in role
30 Number of years with starwood
54 Number of Middle East operating hotels
46 Number of Middle East pipeline hotels

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