- Senior Vice President & Managing Director, EDITION Hotels
Dan Flannery joined Marriott in 1981 at the age of 18, at the opening of the original Gaithersburg Marriott. He took two jobs to get full time hours, bussing tables in one restaurant and waiting tables in the other. He graduated from The Robert H. Smith School of Business at The University of Maryland in 1985 and grew up through the Marriott system, working in Food & Beverage throughout Southern California and New York. He became a General Manager in 1999 before moving to The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company in 2002, serving as Area Vice President for the company’s Northeast hotels in New York and Boston and was a member of the company’s Corporate Steering Committee. In 2009, Flannery was named Vice President and Managing Director for EDITION. In collaboration with Ian Schrager, Flannery developed the team, the culture, the platform and systems for this new brand and launched the first hotels. In 2011, he joined Morgans Hotel Group as Chief Operating Officer, leading the company widely credited for introducing the first boutique hotels to the world. He was most recently Executive Vice President for North America for Langham Hospitality Group and provided operations support for the company’s hotels in China, Europe, Australia and the Middle East. In September 2015, Flannery returned to EDITION as Senior Vice President and Managing Director. Flannery has led openings and pre-opening activities throughout the United States and around the world, in London, Istanbul, Marrakech, Doha the Bahamas and Sanya, China. He is an Adjunct Professor at The Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Marketing at New York University in the Masters Program. He serves on the Penn State School of Hospitality Management Industry Advisory Board. He has served on the Board of Directors for the Hotel Association of New York City and on the Tisch Center Advisory Board, as well as the Dean’s Advisory Council for the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. In 2009, Flannery was recognised by HSMAI as “Operations Executive of the Year.” In 2008, Luxury Travel Advisor Magazine named him “Top General Manager in the World.” In 2006, he was recognised by The Food and Beverage Association of America as “Hospitality Professional of the Year.”
- Chairman - World Travel and Tourism Council
Gerald Lawless started his career with Forte Hotels which culminated in him setting up and growing Forte’s operations in the Middle East. After a 23 year career with Forte Hotels, he joined Jumeirah in 1997 and helped establish it as one of the premier luxury hotel brands in the world. Taking on the challenge of launching Burj Al Arab, the world’s most luxurious hotel, after the successful introduction of Jumeirah Beach Hotel to an eager travelling public, Lawless went on to become President and Group Chief Executive Officer of the Jumeirah Group. At the beginning of 2016, having served for 18 years at the helm of the Jumeirah Group, Lawless assumed a new leadership position responsible for tourism and hospitality in Dubai Holding, the Group’s parent company. At this time he also took on the role of Chairman of the World Travel and Tourism Council, and was appointed an Honorary President of the Jumeirah Group. Lawless is a Graduate of Shannon College of Hotel Management in Ireland and holds an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Business Administration in Hospitality Management by the Johnson & Wales University, State of Rhode Island, USA; an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws by the National University of Ireland, Galway; and an Honorary Doctorate by the Middlesex University Dubai. He is a member of the Global Future Council on the Future of Mobility of the World Economic Forum; a fellow member of the Institute of Hospitality; and a member of the International Advisory Board of the Ecole Hotelière de Lausanne. He is also the recipient of the 2017 Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad. Lawless has recently retired from his role at Dubai Holding and as Chancellor of the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management, giving him more time to focus on his duties at the World Travel and Tourism Council.
- Associate Director, TRI Consulting
Christopher Hewett joined TRI in 2010 and since then has engaged in more than 50 assignments throughout the MENA region encompassing market and financial feasibility studies, operational reviews, operator selection and valuations. He has advised clients including government organisations, publically listed companies, high net worth individuals and financial institutions. He adopts a pragmatic and rational approach to unique hotel and real estate projects, guiding clients through the various stage of the development lifecycle. In addition to his advisory services, Hewett is a regular commentator on the regional hotel and tourism industry, frequently appearing in various media outlets as well as presenting and participating in industry conferences, exhibitions and events. Prior to his consulting experience, Hewett gained more than 10 years of hotel operations experience with senior management roles in various hotels and resorts in New Zealand, Australia and Dubai giving clients a 360 degree view of hotel development and operations.
- Area Vice President - Dubai & Northern Emirates, Rotana Hotel Management Corporation
David Prince is Rotana’s Area Vice President for the Dubai & Northern Emirates region. A seasoned hospitality professional with extensive background and experience in all aspects of the hotel business, Prince joined Rotana in April 2015 as Area General Manager for Dubai & Northern Emirates after spending more than 20 years with Hilton Hotels, where he held a variety of senior positions in diverse geographic markets including the UK, India, Malaysia, China, and Thailand. Promoted to Area Vice President in June 2016, Prince currently oversees the operations of 20 Rotana hotels in Dubai and Northern Emirates, and is responsible for developing and implementing strategic plans to drive business growth for the company in this important market. Additionally, he is tasked with providing brand support for all hotels under his remit as well as ensuring compliance with relevant laws, regulations and standards. In the course of his long and distinguished career, Prince has served on numerous boards and committees including the Malaysian Association of Hotel – Sarawak Chapter, the Marketing Committee of Sarawak Tourism Board, and Kent Tourism Alliance, UK. Prince is a certified Emergenetics associate and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Hotel and Catering Administration from Bournemouth University, UK.
- General Manager, Southern Sun Abu Dhabi
Pierre Delfau’s journey with the Tsogo Sun Group began in 1986 in Johannesburg and saw him move up the ladder from the position of Front Office Supervisor to that of Deputy General Manager Rooms over a period of six years. The Southern Sun veteran has amassed two decades of experience in the hospitality industry, of which many years have been devoted to Southern Sun’s leading properties in South Africa. In 2003, Delfau joined The Westcliff Hotel, one of Johannesburg’s leading properties, first as the Executive Assistant Manager F&B and Rooms and later as the Deputy General Manager. After three years, Delfau rejoined Southern Sun in 2006 as the Deputy General Manager of InterContinental Sandton Towers and has remained with the group since then. In 2012, he moved to the UAE from the InterContinental Hotel Johannesburg at O.R. Tambo Airport, where he was heading the team as General Manager since 2008. Continuing his journey with the group, Delfau took over the management of Southern Sun’s two properties in the Middle East, Al Manzil and Qamardeen Hotels, located in the heart of Downtown Dubai. His success in building the brand reputation in the region made him the ideal man to lead Southern Sun’s newest venture into the market; Southern Sun, Abu Dhabi. Delfau was born in France and moved to South Africa in 1982 with his family. He holds a CHA (Certified Hotel Administrator) certification from the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute in the United States and enjoys a dual citizenship from France and South Africa.
- Cluster General Manager, Radisson Blu Hotels, Dubai Waterfront & Dubai Canal Views
David Allan is known as a hands-on leader, capable of leading teams through busy operations and continuously driving financial performance. He was recently appointed as Cluster General Manager, taking the lead for pre-opening of the two five-star properties located in Business Bay. The 432 bedroom Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Waterfront is set to open in Q2 2017 while the Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Canal View will open its doors in Q1 2018, adding another 188 stylish rooms and 16 suites. Allan brings a strong track record to the role and solid understanding of the local market having successfully managed the Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Media City prior to his new appointment. Born in Scotland, Allan started his career with Carlson Rezidor at Radisson Blu Hotel, Glasgow, progressing from Food & Beverage Manager to the role of Deputy General Manager. He is now on his fifth General Manager appointment. Highly respected in the industry, Allan received the General Manager Excellence recognition at the Scottish Hotel Awards in 2013, having previously won the Friendly Service Award for the Park Inn by Radisson Hotel, Aberdeen at the same awards in 2011. Within Carlson Rezidor he was named as Radisson Blu General Manager of the year for 2016 and Park Inn By Radisson General Manager of the year for 2011.
- Area Manager – Middle East & Africa, Frasers Hospitality
Cyril Warsono is a dynamic hospitality professional with more than 20 years’ experience in managing daily operations of the fast-paced environment of hotels, restaurants, and the entertainment industries. Warsono is the Area Manager - Middle East & Africa for Frasers Hospitality. Joining Frasers Hospitality in 2013 as Regional General Manager – Food & Beverage in Singapore, Warsono went on to hold the position of City General Manager for the Fraser Place Anthill & Fraser Place Antasya in Istanbul, Turkey before moving to Dubai. Prior to this, Warsono held management positions with a number of leading hospitality brands, including Meritus Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt International, Shangri-La and The Westin in Singapore and Indonesia. Warsono holds a Higher Diploma in Hotel
Management and Tourism from the Swiss Hotel Management School, Caux, Switzerland and a Diploma in Hotel Management from the American Hotel and Lodging Association.
- Head of Asset Management, TFG Asset Management
Mariano Faz is Head of TFG Asset Management in Dubai. He is responsible for the asset management of the company’s hospitality and real estate portfolio which comprises over 3,000 units in the UAE and an additional 3,000 hotel units under development. During his tenure, Faz has guided the strategic planning efforts to achieve investment objectives on behalf of owners. He provides leadership to the asset management team and ensures that the hotels are managed to the best of their capacity. Faz is an active HAMA (Hotel Asset Management Association) member and also is part of the HSMAI (Hotels Sales & Marketing Association International) Advisory Board. Faz brings more than sixteen years of expertise within the hospitality sector, where he has held a number of management, finance and operational roles. He has successfully negotiated multiple hotel management contracts, coordinated pre-openings and possesses in-depth knowledge of hotel industry trends. Before joining TFG Asset Management, Faz served as the SVP of JLL Hotels in Dubai where he focused on investment and advisory in Dubai and Barcelona. Prior to that, he worked for Ilunion hotels as a Chief Operating Officer for three years and Barcelo hotels in Europe where he successfully managed to expand the brand through management contracts and lease contracts. Faz is a Spanish national and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University International of Catalonia, Spain and a Master in Finance from EADA, Barcelona. Faz is a regular speaker at prominent hospitality conferences in the Middle East and also collaborates with multiple hotel sector publications relating to hotel asset management topics.
- CEO & Senior Partner, INHOCO Group
Rupprecht Queitsch, a German national, is the CEO and Senior Partner of INHOCO Group – International Hospitality Consulting Group has worked in the hotel business for 40 years in 21 hotels. Queitsch recently left his role as General Manager for the JW Marriott Marquis – Hotel Dubai, which became the largest hotel in Dubai and tallest hotel in the world when it opened in November 2012 – to set up his own consulting firm in Dubai, the INHOCO Group. Prior to moving to the Emirate in 2011, Queitsch had worked for 24 years as a General Manager, including six openings and two large-scale re-brandings. This included the Paris Marriott Rive Gauche Hotel & Conference Center, a takeover from Accor to become Europe’s largest Marriott hotel in the convention capital.
Laurent A. Voivenel
- Senior Vice President, Operations & Development Middle East, India & Africa, Swiss-Belhotel International
Laurent A. Voivenel is the Senior Vice President, Operations & Development for Middle East, Africa & India for Swiss-Belhotel International, spearheading the group’s expansion in the region. He holds more than 30 years of extensive international hotel and asset management experience with some of the world’s leading and most prestigious hospitality brands including Starwood Hotels & Resorts and Hilton Hotels & Resorts. Prior to joining Swiss-Belhotel, Voivenel was the Chief Executive Officer of HMH – Hospitality Management Holding for more than three years and was the primary driving force behind repositioning HMH as the Middles East's largest and most credible operator in the dry segment while setting in motion aggressive expansion. With a Masters in Business Administration (MBA), Voivenel has a proven track record in areas of corporate mergers and acquisitions, hotel development and investment, multi-brand operations, as well as outstanding management experience across Europe, Asia Pacific and the Middle East. Being based in the Middle East for the past 17 years, Voivenel also has a deep understanding of the region's unique business dynamics and culture that has resulted in a solid network and close ties with hotel owners, developers and investors.
Olivier R. Harnisch
- Chief Executive Officer, Emaar Hospitality Group
An international hospitality management leader with more than 30 years of experience, Oliver Harnisch is the Chief Executive Officer of Emaar Hospitality Group. He is mandated with driving the overall operations of the organisation with a focus on setting new benchmarks for the group in Dubai and other international markets. He is responsible for the overall management strategy for 11 operational hotels and three serviced residences in Dubai, and the project pipeline of 18 upcoming hotels and 16 serviced residences in the UAE – in Dubai and Fujairah - as well as in international markets including Egypt, Bahrain, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. With the goal of enhancing efficiency, productivity and profitability, he leads the company in unlocking the potential of its three hotel brands – the premium lifestyle brand Address Hotels + Resorts, the upscale lifestyle boutique brand Vida Hotels and Resorts, and the contemporary mid-scale brand Rove Hotels. He is also responsible for the leisure clubs under Emaar Hospitality Group and the Lifestyle Dining assets. In addition, he will focus on further enhancing guest experiences and implementing new strategies that create long-term value for all stakeholders. Harnisch joins Emaar from Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group in Brussels, where he was Chief Operating Officer, responsible for a portfolio of more than 350 leased, managed and franchised hotels in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
He has acquired in-depth expertise in all aspects of the hospitality business through multiple leadership roles across four continents. He has significant regional and international experience in both hotel and restaurant operations. Harnisch began his career in 1986, and was initially associated with individual hotels, F&B operations and airlines for more than 13 years, enabling him to gain strong insights in classic hospitality and in developing compelling guest experiences. He then worked for more than 14 years with an international hotel chain where he held the position of Vice President for Northern and Central Europe, before taking up his last role in 2012. Harnisch holds an MSc in Organisational Labour from the University of London, an MBA in International Finance from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and a Degree in Hospitality Management from Berlin School of Hotel Administration. Having worked across the globe, Harnisch is fluent in six languages.
- Regional Vice President, Middle East & Africa, Wyndham Hotel Group
As Regional Vice President for the Middle East and Africa (MEA) at Wyndham Hotel Group, Ignace Bauwens is responsible for driving the company’s strategy in the fastest growing markets within the MEA. He is also responsible for strengthening the Group’s portfolio in established markets and expanding to new geographies. Since assuming the role in November 2016, Bauwens has dramatically grown Wyndham Hotel Group’s portfolio of brands across the Middle East and Africa, most notably in the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Bauwens has worked in the Middle East since 2002, and prior to joining Wyndham Hotel Group, served as Managing Director for BLH bvba Hospitality Consultancy and as CEO of Abu Dhabi National Hotels (ADNH). He has almost 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry, including senior operations roles at Accor and InterContinental Hotels Group. Bauwens is a native of Belgium and speaks four European languages fluently – English, German, Dutch and French. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Hotel Management from Vives Brugges (previously HTI Brugge) in Belgium. He is based in Wyndham Hotel Group’s Dubai office.
- Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer, Middle East & Africa, AccorHotels
Olivier Granet has been the Managing Director & Chief Operating Officer of AccorHotels Middle East since January 2016. In January 2017 he also took on responsibility for Africa. He oversees AccorHotels’ diverse portfolio of internationally renowned luxury, upscale, midscale and economy hotels in these regions, and is responsible for the development of the AccorHotels network in the Middle East and Africa. This includes 200 operational hotels with more than 43,000 rooms across 30 countries, and a further 32,000 rooms under development. Granet’s previous role was Senior Vice President of Development at AccorHotels Middle East. Since he moved to Dubai in 2011, he has overseen the signing of more than 90 new partnership agreements across the region; reaching a rate of one new signature every two weeks. He is a 16-year veteran of the hospitality industry, having joined AccorHotels in 1999 as Chief Financial Officer for Central Europe, based in Budapest. Moving to Paris in 2002, Granet was appointed Vice President, Corporate Finance, in charge of integrating the German hotel chain Dorint and developing synergies with Club Méditerranée and Groupe Lucien Barrière. He served as AccorHotels’ Executive Committee General Secretary in 2006, and Chief Financial Officer for Accor Services in 2007 and 2008. Granet took on the role of Senior Vice President, Strategy in 2009, before moving to Dubai two years later to head up AccorHotels’ regional development team in the Middle East. Prior to joining AccorHotels, Granet worked with Deloitte & Touche for 10 years, initially as an auditor and later as a Manager in the Corporate Finance Department, holding positions in France and abroad. He has a degree from the Grenoble Institute of Political Studies (Sciences-Po Grenoble) and an MBA from ESSEC Business School in Paris.
- Chief Executive Officer - Hotels, Majid Al Futtaim - Properties
Jalil Mekouar is the Chief Executive Officer of Hotels at Majid Al Futtaim – Properties leading the business unit’s growth strategy across the entire portfolio of existing assets and new developments. Mekouar joined Majid Al Futtaim in July 2017, responsible for overseeing the company’s growth plans, performance and roadmap in alignment with Majid Al Futtaim’s vision of developing integrated lifestyle destinations. With more than 25 years’ international Real Estate and Hospitality experience, Mekouar has held senior regional and global roles across six continents with large public listed and Fortune 500 companies in corporate finance, investment strategy, asset management, corporate strategy, business development and hospitality operations of various asset classes including hotels, resorts, spas, time-share, retail, residential and mixed-use. Mekouar joins Majid Al Futtaim from leading advisory and asset management firms in the US where he was Managing Director and President, and spent several years with Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) as Managing Director for Middle East & Africa, based in Dubai, and Chief Operating Officer for the Americas, based in the US. Mekouar speaks fluent English, Arabic, French and Thai and holds an MBA in International Hospitality Management from Cornell University (USA) and ESSEC (France) as well as two post-graduate degrees in Financial Accounting in addition to Tourism and Hotel Management.
- Director of F&B Middle East & Africa, Marriott International
Stefan Breg is an F&B strategist, operator, marketer and serial concept creator across hotels, malls and free standing restaurants. He has experience in the restaurant sector in Europe, the US, Middle East, South East Asia, Japan and Australasia. Breg is Director of F&B at Marriott International for the Middle East & Africa based in Dubai; a division with more than 1200 F&B venues and $1 billion + revenue. He also leads the Marriot team developing pipeline openings and refurbs; 350+ venues in the next four years. Breg has more than 300 F&B concepts to his name and brought iconic brands such as Hakkasan, Pierre Gagnaire and Embassy to the Middle East. His previous positions include 10 years as Founder & CEO of TRIBE: one of the most successful F&B strategy houses in the Middle East with extensive work on key malls such as Mall of the Emirates and Yas Mall. He has also worked with IHG in South East Asia, Hilton (Europe) and E&Y Consulting. He is a regular speaker on industry trends, a Visiting Professor at Emirates Academy and a judge on the Global Restaurant Awards. Breg was born in London, was educated as a Biochemist and aside from his kids and wife, he is dedicated to a London team that plays in blue.
- General Manager, Zero Gravity Dubai
Peter Skudutis entered the world of hospitality at the tender age of 13, when he helped with parking cars at prominent, fine dining restaurant, Kenloch, in his hometown of Melbourne, Australia. He progressed to Cellar Master and Maître d’ by the age of 17 and, upon finishing high school, received a scholarship to attend prestigious training academy, Academy Sofitel. By 19, he was Director of F&B at Opal Cove Resort in Coffs Harbour, before swapping Australia for the island of Fiji to take on the role of Director of F&B at Sonaisali Island Resort. Skudutis was lured to Dubai aged 23, where he assumed the position of Operations Manager at Barasti Beach Bar. From there he moved to Accenture Investments, an arm of the Al Habtoor group, as General Manager of several outlets including XL Beach Club and Horizon. He also launched soft drink distribution company, Top Shelf Beverages, alongside. Skudutis was then headhunted for his current position, as General Manager at Zero Gravity, a venue he launched in 2013. In four years, Skudutis has taken this premium Dubai beach club, bar, restaurant and large-scale event space from an idea, to the constantly evolving and world-renowned lifestyle and entertainment venue it is today.
- Vice President, Food & Beverage, Atlantis, The Palm
Sascha Triemer, Vice President, Food & Beverage, for Atlantis, The Palm has led an outstanding and diverse career working in Asia, the Middle East and Europe, where he has been responsible for restaurants in various hotels and resorts. Triemer joined Atlantis, The Palm in 2008 as Executive Chef and was promoted to Vice President of Culinary in 2013 where he oversaw a team of 480 chefs and 23 F&B outlets at Atlantis, including the celebrity chef outposts Nobu Dubai, Ronda Locatelli and Bread Street Kitchen by Gordon Ramsay. In 2017, he was promoted to Vice President of Food & Beverage where he now oversees the entire F&B operations of Atlantis, The Palm, and drives the creation and development of new F&B projects for the resort. Triemer began his culinary journey working with several hotels in Europe including the Hilton Munich Park Hotel, The Palace Hotel in Meran, Italy and The Dorchester Hotel, Park Lane in London. Between 2001 and 2006, Triemer worked at the Burj Al Arab Dubai, first as a Sous Chef before moving up to Executive Sous Chef, where he was in charge of overseeing five restaurants and the main kitchen operation. Between 2007 and 2008, Triemer served as the Executive Sous Chef for the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Kuala Lumpur where he was responsible for running the day to day operations of 160 chefs, 6 restaurants and the main kitchen. He was also responsible for the banqueting operation which had a 2,000 person capacity as well as the training and development of staff in the culinary division. Triemer then came back to Dubai in 2008 as Executive Chef for Atlantis, The Palm’s preopening. Since the opening of Triemer has overseen the implementation and opening of new restaurants including TBJ (The Burger Joint), Asia Republic, Asateer (the Ramadan Tent), the Imperial Club Lounge, the Food Court at Aquaventure Waterpark (which features 6 dining concepts) and Yuan, the ultra-modern Chinese Restaurant and Shawafel, the Lebanese fast food concept in The Avenues. Triemer, a German national, has received several accolades and awards over the span of his career including several gold awards from the Emirates International Salon Culinary Dubai.
- Senior Director, F&B Operations EMEA, Hilton
Based in Hilton’s MEA Regional Office in Dubai, Christian Gradnitzer is responsible for F&B operations at more than 400 hotels across EMEA. Gradnitzer has a wealth of experience in Food & Beverage. He started his career as Chef Apprentice in his native Austria then moved on to Switzerland, gaining experience which prepared him for roles in London at The Dorchester Hotel and at Cunard Cruise Lines. He then joined the Burj Al Arab in Dubai, quickly progressing from Chef de Cuisine to Executive Sous Chef, where he supervised the operations of 175 chefs and 60 stewards. In 2006, Gradnitzer took on an Executive Chef role at Jumeirah Essex House in New York, before returning to Dubai to serve as Executive Chef at Jumeirah Emirates Towers. He then became Resort Executive Chef for Madinat Jumeirah, managing restaurants across three hotels, catering requests and the Conference and Incentive culinary team. In 2012 he was named Group Culinary Director for Jumeirah Group and he later became Group Culinary Director for d.ream, a Turkish-based restaurant entertainment and management group. In 2016, Gradnitzer joined Hilton as Senior Director, F&B Operations, EMEA.
- Executive Assistant Manager, Food & Beverage, One&Only Royal Mirage, Dubai
A dedicated hands-on front-of-house luxury hotelier and food & beverage specialist, Heiko Röder has mapped out a colourful twenty-year career journey encompassing challenging leadership positions among the world’s leading luxury and upscale hotel brands, such as One&Only Resorts, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt International and Marriott International. During his tenure with Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, where he contributed to the successful opening of the luxury operator’s highest hotel, Four Seasons Hotel, Guangzhou as the hotel’s Director of Food & Beverage, Röder was recognised as ‘Food & Beverage Hotelier of the Year 2015’ by The Hotelier Awards China. Dedication to his passion for people, a sense of adventure, boundless energy and a keen nose for the next best cocktail, has enabled his management experience to exponentially grow, from his native Germany, criss-crossing oceans to Vietnam, from three of China’s biggest cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou) to Hong Kong, the Pacific islands, and presently, the Middle East.