Hotelier Middle East Power 50: 21-30
Hotelier Middle East reveals who made position 21 to 30 in our Power 50 List 2016. Click to find out
21. Vincent Miccolis, Area General Manager, The Ascott Limited GCC
This hotel operator has quadrupled the number of its live hotels
From having four operating properties last year, to 16 with 2,300 units in this region, Vincent Miccolis is on a roll. Miccolis drives the operator’s growth of in cities such as Jeddah, Riyadh and Muscat and is set to seek opportunities in cities such as Makkah and Kuwait City.
The pipeline of the operator remains strong; its expected properties include Ascott Rafal Olaya Riyadh this year, Citadines Al Ghubrah Muscat in 2017, Ascott Corniche Al Khobar pencilled in for 2018 and Somerset Downtown Al Khobar in 2019. New Ascott brands signed or opened in the Middle East in the last year include: Ascott Tahlia Jeddah which opened late-2016; Citadines Al Salamah Jeddah, KSA, which opened in February 2016; and Somerset Panorama Muscat, opened in March 2016.
Miccolis’ vision for the future of the company includes expanding the footprint of the group more rapidly to cover all continents through strategic partnerships, acquisitions, management agreements and franchising, reaching 80,000 units by 2020.
By the numbers
2 Number of years in role
19 Number of years with company
16 Number of Middle East operating hotels
8 Number of Middle East pipeline hotels
22. Mohamed Ahmed Awadalla, Chief Executive Officer, Time Hotels Management L.L.C.
Awadalla drives significant revenue and pipeline growth for this home-grown hotel brand
Mohamed Ahmed Awadalla has over 30 years of international hospitality industry experience under his belt, working with global groups such as Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, Hilton International and Rotana Hotels. In his role as CEO for four years, Awadalla was one of the founding partners of home-grown brand Time Hotels.
Since 2012, Awadalla has seen Time’s portfolio expand from four hotels to 11, across the UAE. Now, with a total of seven upcoming properties (six of which are expected to open by the end of 2017), Time’s current pipeline also represents expansion into Qatar, Egypt and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Awadalla told Hotelier Middle East: “My vision for Time Hotels is to take a successful home-grown UAE brand and develop it to become a major player within the hospitality industry in the region, delivering international standards of service supported by signature warm and welcoming hospitality. Our strategy is focused on penetrating key gateway destinations in the UAE and across the Middle East, and reinforcing our position as a leading local brand with long term regional ambition.”
Time’s current pipeline includes Doha debut the Time Rako Hotel (Q4 2016); two additional Dubai projects, Time Express Al Jadaf (2017) and Time Royal Hotel & Spa (2017); plus entry into KSA with two hotels due to open in 2017 — Time Express Hotel Riyadh and Time Al Qurrayat Hotel; and entry into Egypt with two properties with Time Hotel Sohag (2017) and Time Tut Hotel, Luxor, Egypt (opening date TBC). Along with steady pipeline growth, Awadalla has also seen significant growth in revenue for Time Hotels. In 2016, the hotel group achieved a total revenue of US $191million, up from $150 million in 2015, and $133 million in 2014.
While Awadalla currently oversees a workforce of 531 employees, with the group’s anticpated growth, the number is expected to rise to 650 by 2017. Time Hotels has also branched out with a separate F&B portfolio, opening two UAE branches of O’Learys Sports Restaurant this year, located in Fujairah and Dubai.
Awadalla has also driven a sustainable focus at Time Hotels, achieving Green Key certification at six out of 11 hotels in the UAE, and partnering with the Slow Food alliance.
By the numbers
4 Number of years in role
9 Number of years with company
11 Number of Middle East operating hotels as of July 2016
7 Number of Middle East pipeline hotels as of July 2016
23. Laurent A. Voivenel, Chief Operating Officer, Hospitality Management Holdings (HMH)
The group has adopted new digital platforms, amidst a new signing and its biggest property opening in KSA
UAE-grown Hospitality Management Holdings (HMH) has ambitions to quadruple its number of rooms by 2020. While the group may have not added to the number of its operating properties, or the pipeline projects for that matter — 17 in operation and four in the pipeline —sources close to the management remain confident of adding to its inventory of rooms.
Under the stewardship of Laurent Voivenel, the group’s chief operating officer, HMH has made a significant investment in its digital platform carrying out “all-round IT and digital technology upgrade”. Voivonel says: “We have rolled out a new e-commerce friendly multi-brand bilingual website for better online conversion to bolster business and profitability at hotels under the HMH banner.”
In the last 12-odd months, Voivenel has facilitated the signing of the Corp hotel brand, which is scheduled for a 2018 opening. HMH is also confident of opening the company’s fourth property in Saudi Arabia. “Coral Al Madina Hotel will be the group’s biggest opening featuring 400 plus rooms,” Voivonel says.
The Frenchman is also strongly focused on strengthening the ‘owner-operator’ relationship. “I have looked at consolidating the existing portfolio of hotels by reinstating the owners’ and investors’ confidence in the group.” The veteran hotelier strongly feels that the owner-operator relationship is heavily evolving and undergoing a transitionary phase.
On the development front, the group has yet to announce any takers of its Ecos brand — a mid-market offering that has sustainability as its core agenda.
By the numbers
3 Number of years in role
3 Number of years with company
17 Number of Middle East operating hotels
4 Number of Middle East pipeline hotels
24. Simon Casson, President, Hotel Operations, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
While new to the role, Simon Casson is an expert in the region
It was only recently that Simon Casson was appointed to his current role as the president of hotel operations in EMEA for Four Seasons, but he has been a mainstay of this region since 2005 when he arrived for the pre-opening of the Four Seasons Hotel Doha.
He joined the company in 1989 as an assistant manager at what is now Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane. After further assignments in London as well as Washington, he returned to the same hotel as general manager in 1989. In 2005, he opened Four Seasons Hotel Doha, and was promoted to regional VP in 2011 before moving to Dubai for the brand’s first opening in UAE in 2014. During this time he also led the company’s Global Spa Task Force.
In his new role, Casson takes over from Christian Clerc (in the list last year), and oversees Four Seasons hotel operations across a diverse portfolio.
Casson works collaboratively with hotel owners and Four Seasons’ corporate and hotel teams to ensure that each property’s attributes and each destination’s culture are reflected in everything from guest room design to restaurant concepts, and more.
By the numbers
2 Number of months in the role
27 Number of years with company
13 Number of Middle East operating hotels
2 Number of Middle East pipeline hotels
25. Henk Meyknecht, Senior Vice President Operations, Middle East & Africa, Kempinski Hotels
Europe’s oldest hoteliers await landmark anniversary next year
Although new to his current role, having taking on the appointment in June this year, Henk Meyknecht brings more than 30 years of industry experience, and 10 years of Middle East experience to his new position at Kempinski Hotels in this region, where he will oversee nearly 9,000 employees.
This year, with a pipeline of five upcoming hotels, Kempinski signed three new hotels, as well as entered into Lebanon and Congo. Kempinski’s pipeline in the region also includes new hotels in Al Khobar, KSA, and Muscat, Oman. Since joining Kempinski in the region, Meyknecht has already made his mark on the operations of its regional properties, by introducing what he describes as a “modular approach” to operating luxury hotels.
“With this approach we streamline the time our hoteliers are investing in operating the properties, generating more time to focus on guests and employees. Making tasks more focused, measurable and efficient. The principle is based on decentralised empowerment, allowing both individuals and team to contribute to improving the quality,” Meyknecht explains.
Next year, in April 2017, Kempinski Hotels worldwide is set to celebrate its 120th anniversary.
By the numbers
Number of years in the role: Appointed June 2016
5 Number of years with company
19 Number of Middle East operating hotels
5 Number of Middle East pipeline hotels
26. Noel Massoud, Vice President Operations and Development, The Middle East, Swiss-Belhotel International
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Egypt have seen the most traction for this operator in the last year
In the last year, Swiss-Belhotel International has signed a slew of properties across the Middle East, including in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, marking it as a region of importance for the operator.
In Saudi Arabia, the Swiss-Belhotel Al Khobar, is expected to launch in Q4 of 2016. The 100-room property will feature two F&B outlets, plus additional retail space for rental. It will be the brand’s third property in KSA, following plans for hotels in Makkah and Riyadh.
Swiss-Belhotel International has also signed an agreement to manage a property in Alexandria, part of a mixed-use complex overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. This marks Swiss-Belhotel International’s first foray into Egypt.
Swiss-Belhotel Marseilia on Alexandria Beach will open in 2018, offering more than 200 four-star international-standard hotel rooms and apartments, over 500 residential units, and culinary and retail options.
It then signed management agreements for two additional developments in Egypt. Swiss-Belhotel International will now manage the Swiss-Belhotel and Suites Asmarat & Swiss-Belresidences Asmarat, located in the Katameya development in New Cairo. According to a company statement, this area is expected to become the new administrative and financial capital of Egypt once it is built.
Also recently signed is a management agreement for the Swiss-Belresort Batter Sea & Swiss-Belresidences Batter Sea at North Coast in Egypt. Also due to open in 2019, this project will combine 300 hotel rooms and 1000 apartments, with one-, two- and three-bedroom options available. The Batter Sea development will offer two restaurants.
By the numbers
2 Number of years in role
2 Number of years with company
6 Number of Middle East operating hotels
14 Number of Middle East pipeline hotels
27. Baran Turkel, Managing Director of Best Western Turkey, Middle East and Central Asia
The US-hotelier is looking at expanding with the launch of a new brand
Best Western has completed its first full year of operation following the management changes it underwent during which Baran Turkel was appointed as the managing director of Best Western Turkey, Middle East and Central Asia.
The company shifted base to Turkey, where it operates 16 hotels across the country.
In the GCC, the group currently operates three properties in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, two in Kuwait and one each in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar. The American-based hotel operator also has plans for Jordan and Morocco.
Turkel has completed his first full year in his current role, after joining the company from Marriott International where he held a senior managerial position in Turkey. In his role, Turkel has been entrusted with overseeing the Best Western’s existing properties in the GCC and Middle East along with 16 hotels in Turkey.
Best Western continues to expand globally, mainly in the Americas, where it has recently opened several new properties, and four new hotels waiting in the wings in Brazil.
Best Western has also opened hotels in Scandinavian cities and other parts of Europe.
The US-hotelier has as many as five hotel categories that address different market segments. It is also set to soon to launch its brand called Vib (or as Best Western put it, short for ‘vibrant’). This new brand will be a savvy boutique hotel targeted towards the connected traveller.
By the numbers
1.5 years in current role
9 Number of Middle East operating hotels
28. Andrew Shaw, Assistant Vice President Development — EMEA, Dusit International
Armed with a reignited strategy Andrew Shaw is confident that the Thai-operator will send a strong vibe in the market
Dusit was one of the oldest, if not the first, Asian brand to set up in the UAE with the Dusit Thani Dubai over a decade ago. Andrew Shaw, assistant vice-president development — EMEA feels he has played a crucial role in re-igniting “the regional development function from a relative period of prolonged dormancy, culminating in an average of 10 development enquiries per week, and the conclusion of seven projects for 2015 alone”. He also seems to have streamlined a few management and operational processes. “[I have] devised and implemented systems and procedures for project analysis, in particular financial appraisal and modelling based upon my prior experience in asset investment and development, as well as improving efficiencies within existing processes to facilitate the ambitious expansion strategy. I’ve also updated the IT systems at regional office level and established financial control and HR systems.”
Shaw says two of its existing owners have signed new properties with them. Dusit sees potential with the D2 brand, as a property each in Doha and Dubai are set to open in 2018 and Q3 2016. The company has also signed a Dubai property which will be operated under the Dusit Princess brand.
By the numbers
4 Number of years in the role
4 Number of years with company
5 Number of Middle East operating hotels
7 Number of Middle East pipeline hotels
29. Nehme Imad Darwiche, Chief Executive Officer of Jannah Hotels & Resorts
Home-grown hotel group has expanded quickly in its first three years, with a young CEO at the helm
With 16 years of hospitality industry experience behind him (12 in the MENA region), Darwiche has founded his own hotel group, where he oversees a total of 500 staff.
Darwiche’s hotel group grew from one to six hotels in the region within its first three years, and in 2016 introduced a new brand, the Al Seef Resort & Spa by Andalus.
Darwiche’s Jannah Hotels & Resorts, which bills itself as “halal-friendly” and alcohol-free, was originally born out of Darwiche’s desire to bring Bedouin-inspired hospitality to hotels in the region. Features of the Jannah brand in the UAE include the connectivity of the Jannah Burj Al Sarab, Abu Dhabi, which the hotel group claims is the fastest hotel internet connection in the world.
The brand’s operations also focus on an atypical power hierarchy within the hotel. “I started the company three years ago with a very streamlined process and structure that is aimed at minimising the hierarchy often found in corporate organisations,” Darwiche told Hotelier. “This way, our “talents” can focus on delivering their best to our guests with full support from the management team, allowing them to take a decision on the spot.”
Jannah Hotels and Resorts is expected to open two new properties in the UAE by the end of 2016, located in Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah. Darwiche Worldwide Legacy also plans the future launch of a budget-brand, currently named BedoInn.
By the numbers
3.5 Number of years in the role
3.5 Number of years with company
7 Number of Middle East operating hotels as of July 2016
5 Number of Middle East pipeline hotels as of July 2016
30. Hatem Gasmi, Founder and Managing Director, Auris Group of Hotels
With 13 pipeline hotels in its portfolio, Auris Group of Hotels is strongly looking at enhancing its USPs with eco-friendly elements
Auris Group has seven hotels and hotel apartments operating in Middle East as of July 2016 and a pipeline in the Middle East that includes eight properties in the United Arab Emirates, three in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and two in Oman.
Responsible for 706 people, its founder and managing director Hatem Gasmi tells Hotelier Middle East more about the operator’s hydroponics project which is in its last stages of implementation and is meant to grow organic vegetables for hotel consumption.
“The project is a progressive solution to health eating and it is expected to exceed the required supply for all the hotels under the chain. With a prototype already in progress at the five-star Auris Plaza Hotel, the project has received a lot of attention from stake holders and partners in the industry,” reveals Gasmi.
In line with this, the group has worked on its elements of sustainable tourism marked by the implementation of energy conservation throughout the hotel operations.
Other practices include improvement of air quality, proper waste management, water conservation, sustainable purchasing and noise reduction, among other changes.
By the numbers
8 Number of years in the role
8 Number of years with company
7 Number of Middle East operating hotels
13 Number of Middle East pipeline hotels