REVEALED: 2012 Hotelier MidEast Power 50 (20-11)
We name 10 influential hoteliers ranking 20-11 on the 2012 power list
Over the course of this week (having commenced on September 9) Hotelier Middle East will reveal the region's top 50 most influential hoteliers in the annual Hotelier Middle East Power 50, presented by Voglia. This fourth instalment of this five-part series of announcments names those ranking in positions 20 to 11 of the 2012 list.
In this fourth edition of the Hotelier Middle East Power 50, you will notice a few changes. This year for the first time, the list is entirely dedicated to hotel operators. Even those entrants who both own and operate hotels have been judged only on their management merits. This has meant that we have had to omit the specialists in tourism and development as well as owners and investors, but rest assured, the Hotelier team is already hard at work planning a list to recognise these hotel industry partners.
As always, however, the rankings in the Hotelier Middle East Power 50 are subjective and the opinion of the editorial team. Decisions are made based upon portfolio and pipeline, activity over the past 12 months and plans for the coming year, along with the reputation of the individual among their peers and their dedication to developing the Middle East hospitality and tourism industry generally.
We are confident that each entrant deserves their place in the list and invite you to join with Hotelier in celebrating the achievements and accolades of so many hotel pioneers.
20 Fadi Mazkour, regional director, founder, MENA Hotels and Resorts Management
Fadi Mazkour has more than 30 years of management experience in hospitality and tourism with companies such as IHG, Golden Tulip, Hilton and Accor.
He was area manager and GM of Golden Tulip Suites & Tulip Inn Hotel in Dubai before founding management company MENA Hotels & Resorts Corporation, part of Al Hokair Group, which aims to set new standards for Saudi Arabian home-grown operators.
In October 2008, Mazkour inaugurated the first MENA Hotel in Riyadh followed by the 400-key MENA Grand Khaldia Hotel in Riyadh and the 115-room MENA Plaza Riyadh, as well as overseeing the pre-opening of the boutique MENA Plaza Al Khobar and MENA Hotel Muscat.
MENA Hotels is currently negotiating to manage other properties in the Middle East and Gulf areas, but already has a busy year ahead with eight properties in the pipeline, six of which will open in 2013. There is a hotel planned for Makkah in 2014 and a property in Muscat scheduled to open in 2015.
BY THE NUMBERS
MENA Hotels open in Middle East: 5 Hotels in confirmed pipeline for Middle East: 8 Middle East hotels opened in past 12 months: 3 Middle East hotels signed in past 12 months: 2 Middle East MENA hotels due to open by September 2013: 6 No of years in hospitality: 33 No of years in region: 26 Nationality: Lebanese
19 Andreas Mattmüller, COO, Moevenpick Hotels and Resorts, Middle East and Asia
After falling in love with hospitality as a 15-year-old working at his uncle’s hotel in Lucerne, Switzerland, Mattmüller received his degree in hotel management in 1979.
He then embarked on a career that saw him work for prestigious companies in 15 countries across five continents and joined Mövenpick in 2001. At that time there were just a handful of Mövenpick hotels in the Middle East. Now, under Mattmüller’s management, the company has 25 hotels in the region.
Mattmüller has consolidated the portfolio in the Middle East and raised the number of signed projects in Asia to 18 properties. The goal is to manage 25 hotels in Asia by 2012.
He is currently responsible for 32 properties, 25 in the Middle East and seven in Asia. There are 27 properties in the pipeline, nine of which are in the Middle East and 18 in Asia.
“A plan is only as good as its implementation” is one of Mattmüller’s favourite quotes and no doubt, the driving philosophy behind his successes at Mövenpick over the past 11 years.
BY THE NUMBERS
Movenpick Hotels open in Middle East: 25 Hotels in confirmed pipeline for Middle East: 9 Middle East hotels opened in past 12 months: 0 Middle East hotels signed in past 12 months: 0 Middle East hotels due to open by September 2013: 3 No of years in hospitality: 33 No of years in region: 14 Nationality: Swiss
18 Simon P Casson, regional vice president and general manager, Four Seasons Hotel Doha
A veteran of the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts family — with more than two decades’ spent with the company — Simon Casson has been based in Doha since 2004.
He has been instrumental in establishing Four Seasons Doha as a strong market leader and one of the city’s benchmarks for intuitive, personalised service and luxury and in 2011, was appointed regional vice president.
Casson continued to lead Four Seasons Hotel Doha to a position of market leadership in 2011 and into 2012, despite increased competition. Regionally, he has been delighted to see the recovery in markets like Lebanon and Jordan, while also providing assistance to the more challenged Egyptian and Syrian markets.
For the remainder of 2012, Casson will oversee the construction of the new Nobu restaurant on the hotel’s marina, as well as above-ground construction for Four Seasons Hotel Doha at the Pearl.
Casson is currently responsible for five properties in Doha, Amman, Damascus, Beirut and Cairo, and he will also take on Four Seasons Hotel Doha at the Pearl.
BY THE NUMBERS
Four Seasons Hotels open in Middle East: 10 Hotels in confirmed pipeline for Middle East: 9 Middle East hotels opened in past 12 months: 0 Middle East hotels signed in past 12 months: 1 Middle East hotels due to open by September 2013: 1 Years in hospitality: 26 Years in Middle East: 9 Nationality: British
17 Ulrich T. Eckhardt, president, Middle East and Africa, Kempinski Hotels
A seasoned hotelier, Ulrich T. Eckhardt has an impressive track record, with more than four decades of experience in a variety of senior positions for prestigious hotel groups, including ITT Sheraton Corporation.
He joined Kempinski Hotels in 1995 as senior vice president — Latin America & Caribbean, based in Brazil, followed by a posting as managing director of Kempinski Hotel Beijing Lufthansa Center in China. Eckhardt arrived in the UAE in 1997 to oversee the preopening phase of Kempinski Hotel Ajman, which he has managed ever since.
Under the guidance of Eckhardt, the ME&A region, which he took over in 2002, has become a leader in the company with the highest fee earning hotel — Emirates Palace — and the biggest regional revenue contribution for the company. The revenue from the 17 properties in Middle East and Africa represents 40% of revenue for the entire company.
This year has been incredibly busy with the opening of four properties; Kempinski Hotel & Residences Palm Jumeirah, Kempinski Grand & Ixir Hotel Bahrain City Centre, Kempinski Seychelles Resort and Olare Mara Kempinski.
Growth now is largely focused on new markets and Kempinski signed six new properties over the past year; Kempinski Gold Coast Hotel, Accra, Ghana; Villa Rosa Kempinski, Nairobi, Kenya; Olare Mara Kempinski, Masai Mara, Kenya; Kempinski Hotel
Talatouna, Angola; as well as Kempinski Hotel Panama in Central America. The company has also partnered with Leela Hotels in India to open the first Kempinski hotel in the country, Kempinski Ambiance Hotel, Delhi.
Plans for the remainder of 2012 include hosting the Kempinski Career Day in Abu Dhabi, where all the regional GMs come to interview candidates and make offers on the spot.
BY THE NUMBERS
Kempinski Hotels open in Middle East: 11 Hotels in confirmed pipeline for Middle East: 9 Middle East hotels opened in past 12 months: 2 me hotels signed in past 12 months: 2 middle east hotels due to open by September 2013: 4 years in hospitality: 40 years in region: 15 Nationality: German
16 David Roberts, executive vice president Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, Fairmont Raffles Hotels
David Roberts joined Fairmont Hotels & Resorts as general manager at the picturesque Fairmont Chateau Whistler, and spent the majority of his early career with the company in Canada at various properties.
In 2008, he then went to Singapore as executive vice president, Asia Pacific for parent company Fairmont Raffles Hotels International. Two years later, Roberts’ focus expanded to include Middle East and Africa. Some of his duties also include managing Fairmont’s regional vice presidents in these markets, overseeing multi-unit developments like the projects in Manila, Makkah and Singapore, and all new development where the company’s brands may not have a regional structure to support the hotels.
This last year has been spent increasing brand awareness in the region, driven by success in the Dubai marketplace, and fruitful relationships in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The establishments of partnerships with Saudi’s Kingdom Hotels and Qatari Diar has also brought a wealth of opportunities, not only to the company’s Middle Eastern portfolio, but globally.
Construction is complete on the Fairmont Hotel in Makkah as well as the handover of the final phase of guest rooms. This Ramadan, the company opened the Royal floors and the balance of the room inventory. The Fairmont hotel now boasts 1293 rooms and has been joined in the high season with the soft opening of the Swissôtel Makkah. The hotel opened half of its available rooms for Ramadan, and plans to have all 1500 rooms open by Hajj of this year.
Coming up in 2012 is the opening of Fairmont The Palm in Dubai and the Fairmont Makati in Manila will open in December. There are also properties slated for Amman, Ajman, Fujairah, Muscat, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi. Roberts’ responsibilities extend beyond the Middle East and in total, incorporate 17 operating hotels across India, China, Singapore, KSA, UAE, Africa and Egypt.
BY THE NUMBERS
FRHI Hotels open in Middle East: 9 Hotels in confirmed pipeline for Middle East: 6 Middle East hotels opened in past 12 months: 1 Middle East hotels signed in past 12 months: 3 Middle East hotels due to open by September 2013: 4 No of years in hospitality: 37 No of years in region: 2 Nationality: British
15 Peter Fulton, managing director, Hyatt International - South West Asia
Peter Fulton’s career spans almost 30 years in the hotel industry, starting in his homeland of New Zealand in 1974 and with Hyatt in 1985. He has been focused on the Middle East for 12 years.
Fulton began his career with Hyatt International as food & beverage manager at the Hyatt Regency in Auckland. For the next seven years, he filled senior food and beverage positions at Hyatt properties in Dubai, Canberra and Macau. In 1997, Fulton was appointed GM of the Hyatt Regency Delhi where he remained before taking up his position as GM of Grand Hyatt Dubai in 2002.
Fulton has long had ambitions of propelling the innovation and growth strategy for Hyatt in the region, driven further through his appointment in January of 2008 to his current role.
The close of 2011 saw Hyatt open two new hotels in the UAE capital, Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi on Saadiyat Island and Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi at ADNEC.
The company also expanded its presence in the Gulf, with Hyatt Hotels International recruiting a new worldwide sales office team on the ground in Saudi Arabia to cater to growing demand for a local presence in the Kingdom, while simultaneously strengthening the team in Dubai.
A slew of major awards throughout 2011 and 2012 for design, best hotel, best new hotel and best business among others highlighted Fulton’s ability to get the job done well.
The remainder of 2012 will see a focus on Asia including the opening of Park Hyatt Chennai, in the capital city of the state of Tamil Nadu, the Hyatt Place Hampi and Hyatt Regency Gurgaon.
Fulton oversees eight properties in the GCC, nine in India, one in Maldives and one in Nepal. However, there are eight more properties in the pipeline for the GCC, doubling the company’s presence in the Gulf, and a staggering 56 properties in the pipeline in India.
BY THE NUMBERS
Hyatt Hotels open in Middle East: 8 Hotels in confirmed pipeline for Middle East: 8 Middle East hotels opened in past 12 months: 2 Middle East hotels signed in past 12 months: 4 Middle East Hyatt due to open by September 2013: 2 Years in hospitality: 27 Years in region: 12 Nationality: New Zealand
14 Pascal Duchauffour, area vice president, Europe, Middle East & Africa,The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company
Pascal Duchauffour oversees some of the region’s most high profile luxury hotels under the Ritz-Carlton, Bulgari and Edition brands.
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, part of Marriott International, has eight operating properties including The Ritz-Carlton Dubai, currently undergoing a significant expansion; Al Bustan Palace, A Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Muscat— which Duchauffour was instrumental in acquiring from InterContinental Hotels Group last year — and The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh, the most recent launch.
The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal — expected to be a flagship for the company in the region and also for its owner Abu Dhabi National Hotels — will open by the end of 2012, while coming up next year is another iconic new opening, The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo, which has been undergoing an extensive 30-month refurbishment to bring it up to brand standards.
Also confirmed are two properties under the Ritz-Carlton Reserve brand — in Tamuda Bay, Morocco and in Muscat.
A French national, Duchauffour has been in the region since 2003 when he arrived in Bahrain from Singapore.
BY THE NUMBERS
Ritz-Carlton Hotels open in Middle East: 8 Hotels in confirmed pipeline for Middle East: 4 Middle East hotels opened in past 12 months: 1 Middle East hotels signed in past 12 months: 0 Middle East hotels due to open by September 2013: 2 years in hospitality: 27 years in region: 10 Nationality: French
13 Mark Willis, area vice president for the Middle East & Sub Saharan Africa,The Rezidor Hotel Group
Mark Willis has been with The Rezidor Hotel Group since 1998, only leaving for a year to complete an MBA at Oxford University.
He took up his current role this earlier this year, replacing Marko Hytönen. Previously, he was regional director Radisson Blu & Hotel Missoni UK.
Under Willis, Rezidor has debuted in Qatar this year following a conversion of the former Ramada hotel to Radisson Blu Doha, which was completed in July. The hotel features 583 rooms, six bars and 12 restaurants.
He has also overseen a raft of signings, including Hotel Missoni Doha, Park Inn Jeddah, Radisson Blu Mafaz and Park Inn Residence Riyadh. In total, Rezidor has 4000 rooms in the confirmed pipeline for the Middle East and 30 hotels operating in the region, nine of which are in the UAE. A highlight for 2013 is expected to be the opening of Radisson Blu Sohar in Oman, although the company has gone quiet on the opening of its second Missoni in the region at Sifah.
Further ahead, the group will open a 170-room property, Park Inn by Radisson Riyadh Al Sahafa, in 2014. The hotel will be Rezidor’s 12th in Saudi Arabia.
BY THE NUMBERS
Rezidor Hotels open in Middle East: 30 Hotels in confirmed pipeline for Middle East: 14 Middle East hotels opened in past 12 months: 1 Middle East hotels signed in past 12 months: 5 Middle East hotels due to open by September 2013: 1 Years in hospitality: 30 Years in Middle East: 5 Nationality: British
12 Sami Nasser, VP Operations, Sofitel Middle East, Egypt and Indian Ocean and GM, Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach
Sofitel has once again extended its regional reach this year with the openings of hotels in Egypt, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.
These developments included the debut of the Legend brand in the region at the Old Cataract Aswan on the banks of the River Nile — which originally opened in 1899 and was restored over a three-year period — and the opening of the first thalassotherapy spa facility in the Middle East at Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa.
Overseeing these developments is Sami Nasser, who has spent his 25-year hospitality career working for parent company Accor. Appointed to the position of vice president operations and GM of the Sofitel Cairo El Gezirah, Nasser then transferred to Dubai in 2009 to open the Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach as GM and assume his regional role.
His portfolio now totals 11 hotels in key locations from the UAE to Beirut and Saudi Arabia, but two hotels scheduled to open in enviable Dubai locations by the end of 2013 — Sofitel Resort Spa Palm Jumeirah and Sofitel Burj Khalifa Downtown — are likely to elevate the luxury brand’s reputation further still.
BY THE NUMBERS
Sofitel Hotels open in Middle East: 11 Hotels in confirmed pipeline for Middle East: 6 Middle East hotels opened in past 12 months: 3 Middle hotels signed in past 12 months: 0 Middle East hotels due to open by September 2013: 2 Years in hospitality: 25 Years in Middle East: 4 Nationality: French & Lebanese
11 Bani Haddad, regional vice president Middle East and africa, Wyndham Hotel Group
Recent months have revealed exciting developments for Wyndham Hotel Group in the Middle East, headed by regional VP Bani Haddad, promoted over the past year from his previous role in charge of development.
The group already operates 33 hotels (6173 rooms) in the region under four hotel brands: Wyndham Grand, Ramada, Days Inn and Howard Johnson. But in June this year the company signed a master franchise agreement with Saudi Automotive Services Company (SASCO) for 20 Super 8 hotels in Saudi Arabia over the next five years. This brings to fruition a vision spoken of by company president Eric Danziger several years ago to bring the economy brand to the Middle East, and Haddad was instrumental in this.
In other developments, Wyndham Hotel Group opened two Ramada Hotels in Dubai over the past year and expects to open three more Ramada hotels by the end of 2013 in KSA and Abu Dhabi.
BY THE NUMBERS
Wyndham Hotels open in Middle East: 33 Hotels in confirmed pipeline for Middle East: 4 (plus franchise for 20 in KSA) Middle East hotels opened in past 12 months: 2 hotels signed in past 12 months: 20 Super 8 hotels hotels due to open by September 2013: 4 Years in hospitality: 19 Years in Middle East: 7 Nationality: Lebanese