Hotelier Middle East Power 50: 31-40

Hotelier Middle East reveals who made position 31 to 40 in our Power 50 List 2016. Click here to find out

Sumair Tariq, Managing Director, R Hotels
Sumair Tariq, Managing Director, R Hotels
Ibrahim Barghout, Area Vice President, Middle East and Africa, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company
Ibrahim Barghout, Area Vice President, Middle East and Africa, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company
Siegfried Nierhaus, Vice President Middle East, Steigenberger Hotel Group
Siegfried Nierhaus, Vice President Middle East, Steigenberger Hotel Group
Gabriel Escarrer jaume, Vice Chairman and CEO, Meliá Hotels International
Gabriel Escarrer jaume, Vice Chairman and CEO, Meliá Hotels International
Philippe Zuber, President and Chief Operating Officer, One&Only Resorts
Philippe Zuber, President and Chief Operating Officer, One&Only Resorts
Stefan Leser, Group Chief Executive Officer, Jumeirah Group
Stefan Leser, Group Chief Executive Officer, Jumeirah Group
Simon Coombs, President and CEO, Shaza Hotels
Simon Coombs, President and CEO, Shaza Hotels
Antoine Sayegh, President, Gloria Hotels & Resorts
Antoine Sayegh, President, Gloria Hotels & Resorts
Rob Weeden, Vice President Sales & Marketing, EMEA, Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts
Rob Weeden, Vice President Sales & Marketing, EMEA, Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts
Philippe Harb, Chief Operating Officer and Partner, One to One Hotels & Resorts
Philippe Harb, Chief Operating Officer and Partner, One to One Hotels & Resorts

31. Sumair Tariq, Managing Director, R Hotels

R Hotels is set to grow beyond the UAE, with Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom in Sumair Tariq’s sights

R Hotels managing director Sumair Tariq aims to make the company one of the top performing hospitality groups in the region, and to be recognised as one of the best hospitality companies to work for in the Middle East.

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In addition to growing the portfolio in the UAE as well as growing the team, R Hotels, under Tariq, seeks to expand its presence in other regional cities including Jeddah and Makkah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and in London, United Kingdom.

Tariq says: “Together with the senior management team, we make sure we look after the welfare of our teams. With the growing number of hotels and the opportunities that come with the developments, we know that our people will remain as the core of our business and we continuously look for ways to provide them with personal and professional growth. We provide our employees with career growth opportunities within the group, and invest on training and physical well-being through various sports initiatives.”

R Hotels capped off 2015 with an average occupancy of 86% for all five properties. The group’s revenue was up by 6% from 2014, with almost 300,000 room nights sold. For the first half of 2016, the firm’s occupancy figures stand at 85%.

“We are on track to open the first holistic health and wellness resort and spa in Palm Jumeirah by April 2017, as well as another hotel at Ajman Corniche. We are currently reviewing two hotels for acquisition, and we are consistently seeking new properties to manage, in order to enhance our market presence in the UAE and Middle East region,” adds Tariq.

By the numbers

6 Number of years in the role
9 Number of years with company
5 Number of Middle East operating hotels
4 Number of Middle East pipeline hotels

32. Ibrahim Barghout, Area Vice President, Middle East and Africa, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company

This Marriott veteran has worked with Ritz Carlton’s parent company for over 30 years

While Ibrahim Barghout has been in his current role with Ritz Carlton for just over two years, he has been with Marriott International as AVP for six years, and for a total of 34 years (across regions) with the company. With approximately 3,000 people working under him for the Ritz Carlton brand in the region, Barghout plays an important role for Marriott in the Middle East. According to last year’s financial reports, the Ritz Carlton brand represented 40% of Marriott International’s revenue in the Middle East.

Since last year’s Power List, Ritz-Carlton’s portfolio has risen from eight operating properties in the Middle East, to nine. From last year’s pipeline of two properties, the Nile Ritz-Carlton in Cairo, Egypt is now open, while the group still awaits the launch of its first hotel in Jeddah, The Ritz-Carlton, Jeddah. Barghout said at the time: “We are exploring new grounds when it comes to foundational elements like our brand footprint, design and architecture, service offerings, community outreach, training of our ladies and gentlemen and digital and mobile presence.”

By the numbers

3 Number of years in the role
34 Number of years with company
9 Number of Middle East operating hotels as of July 2016

33. Siegfried Nierhaus, Vice President Middle East, Steigenberger Hotel Group

The German operator has grown its pipeline and operating portfolio

In the last year, Steigenberger Hotel Group vice president Middle East Siegfried Nierhaus has been kept on his toes. While the German hotel operator had operating properties in Egypt more than a year ago, the Middle East office opened the Steigenberger Hotel Business Bay in Dubai and InterCityHotel Salalah in Oman in 12 months.

Nierhaus, responsible for 350 people, opened the Steigenberger Hotel Business Bay, Dubai within four months of signing the contract, and opened IntercityHotel Salalah, Oman two months after signing the contract — achieving the hotel openings in record time. The Omani hotel is also the first InterCity hotel brand outside of Europe.

His goal is to build a solid pipeline in the long-run, and has already signed contracts for the expansion of the brand in India and Iran. In an interview with Hotelier at Arabian Travel Market, Nierhaus said the brand has signed an InterCityHotel in Dubai’s Cultural Village, scheduled for the end of 2017. The group also has a Steigenberger Hotel in Doha lined up for 2018. Nierhaus said: “We are very much focusing on the UAE, Oman, Qatar, Iran, where we strongly believe we have a great market and a great product for the market as well.”

By the numbers

1.5 Number of years in the role
1.5 Number of years with company
9 Number of Middle East operating hotels : 9 (plus three Nile ships)
4 Number of Middle East pipeline hotels as of July 2016

34. Gabriel Escarrer jaume, Vice Chairman and CEO, Meliá Hotels International

Meliá has not added any new properties to its existing MENA portfolio, but its CEO Gabriel Escarrer Jaume sees the company having weathered a financial crisis

This year, family-owned Meliá hotels and Resorts entered its 60th year of operation and the group also was among the first five-star luxury operators to announce development in Iran (along with AccorHotels).

In the Middle East, the Spanish hotel operator continues to operate two properties — the Meliá Dubai and Meliá Doha, and has a pipeline of five hotels. Meliá’s new hotels are set to be located in UAE, Qatar and Iran.

Responsible for a remarkable 42,275 employees Gabriel Escarrer says: “Meliá is now stronger than ever, with a new strategy based on an asset-lighter, more management-oriented model, more power to our brands, and a comprehensive digital transformation, involving the human team, the technology, and the customer relationship management.”

Escarrer Jaume is particularly pleased with how the operator has responded to the financial crisis and believes the company has come out of it stronger than before. He says: “As the second generation of the founder’s family, I have the mission to transform the group according to the current industry’s challenges and environment in order to keep its leadership. Therefore, in 2015, Meliá launched a strong digital transformation process called “MeliaDigital”; within this programme, we are making progress in our systems, our organisation, technology, and our sales, resulting in a 27% annual growth of our sales website over the past three years.”

By the numbers

8 Number of years in role
22 Number of years with company
2 Number of Middle East operating hotels
5 Number of Middle East pipeline hotels

35. Philippe Zuber, President and Chief Operating Officer, One&Only Resorts

Zuber’s One&Only brand hints at further GCC expansion plans

At the end of 2015, Philippe Zuber left home-grown hospitality brand Emaar, to join One&Only Resorts as its new president and COO. Industry veteran Zuber, who now looks after a team of more than 4,500 employees, brings 20 years of hospitality experience to the hotel group, including five years of working in the Middle East.

Later this year, Kerzner International (the parent company of One&Only Resorts) is expected to welcome former Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts CEO Jean-Gabriel Pérès, as the new president and chief executive officer of Kerzner International Holdings.

While Kerzner plans expansion with the upcoming launch of a second Atlantis property on Dubai’s Palm (Royal Atlantis & Residences), Zuber will focus on expansion of the One&Only brand in the GCC.

Already in the pipeline is the brand’s first hotel in the GCC outside of Dubai, the upcoming One&Only Seef in Bahrain, expected to open in 2017.

The new Bahrain resort will reportedly launch the first Hakkasan restaurant in the Kingdom of Bahrain, as well as a Givenchy Spa.

Last year, the company mentioned the One&Only Jeddah as an upcoming property; however the firm declined to comment on this venue this year.

Zuber also reveals that One&Only is currently considering new properties in “major cities” in the GCC region, although no further plans have been confirmed at this stage. “The brand and company already have a strong reputation in the luxury space, however with our continued growth in the region and the support of ICD and our other shareholders, One&Only Resorts is in a positive and aggressive growth phase,” Zuber tells Hotelier Middle East.

“I look forward to making some exciting announcements very soon about our further growth and development which will significantly impact our scale and financial profile,” he added.

By the numbers

8 Number of months in the role
8 Number of months with company
2 Number of Middle East operating hotels as of july 2016
1 Number of Middle East pipeline hotels as of july 2016

36. Stefan Leser, Group Chief Executive Officer, Jumeirah Group

Stefan Leser is new at the helm of UAE-based Jumeirah Group

In February 2016, Stefan Leser was appointed chief executive officer of Jumeirah Group, joining from Swiss travel business Kuoni, where he spent the last 10 years, most recently as executive vice president of its outbound travel and inbound specialist businesses. The Jumeirah Al Naseem Hotel will open in the next few months; however, not much has been revealed about his plans for the home-grown operator.

By the numbers

6 Number of months in the role
6 Number of months with company
11 Number of Middle East operating hotels
6 Number of Middle East pipeline hotels

37. Simon Coombs, President and CEO, Shaza Hotels

Shaza Hotels may have been laying low, but it’s now emerging in full swing

Shaza Hotels is a new brand formed in 2006, since that time it has signed properties into Saudi Arabia (five hotels), Oman (three hotels), Qatar (one hotel), and Jordan (one hotel), with the intention of securing a minimum of five new hotels per year.

Shaza Makkah will open at the end of 2016, quickly followed by openings in Muscat Al Mouj (the first Mysk by Shaza), and luxury hotels in Doha and Salalah all opening in 2017. Shaza Hotels president and CEO Simon Coombs, who has working in Middle East hotels for 20 years and seven with Shaza, says the company will open three to four hotels each year from 2017 onwards.

Coombs’ vision for the future of the company is to be the leading luxury hotel operator and brand within the next five years; that specifically caters to the needs, tastes and values of the Middle Eastern traveller, whilst bringing a unique and distinctive personality and service quality throughout our portfolio that will be admired.

Coombs says: “We built an entirely new luxury hotel brand and secured healthy portfolio growth for the brand, with the intention of each hotel securing top three performances in their respective competitive sets for both revenue per available room and guest satisfaction. Our goal is to achieve a total portfolio of 35 hotels either under development or in operation by 2020.”

By the numbers

7 Number of years in the role
1 Number of Middle East operating hotels
7 Number of years with company
10 Number of Middle East pipeline hotels

38. Antoine Sayegh, President, Gloria Hotels & Resorts

Abu Dhabi is next for this hotel operator, with sights set across the GCC

Antoine Sayegh has more than 30 years of experience working in the Middle East, and currently oversees Gloria Hotels & Resorts’ 10 operating properties, with a pipeline of four hotels in the market.

In the last year, Sayegh has signed properties in the UAE, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Responsible for a team of 1,750 people, Sayegh tells Hotelier his ambitions are set high. He says: “My vision for the future of the company is to open a Gloria brand hotel in every GCC capital and major Saudi cities.”

He also wants to emphasise the importance of his brand’s family-friendly and dry nature.

One of his hotels currently scheduled to open this year include the Gloria Downtown Hotel in Abu Dhabi. In April this year, the company released a statement saying upcoming new openings are spread across cities such as Riyadh, Makkah, Abu Dhabi, Egypt and Oman.

By the numbers

7 Number of years in the role
10 Number of Middle East operating hotels
12 Number of years with company
4 Number of Middle East pipeline hotels

39. Rob Weeden, Vice President Sales & Marketing, EMEA, Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts

Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts is taking it slow and steady, eyeing profitable locations in the region for new openings

Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts has had a relatively quiet year — it opened the Shangri-La Doha earlier this year, with the one pipeline hotel being the Shangri-La in Jeddah, currently pencilled in for a 2018 opening. The group has, as yet, not added to its portfolio of signed hotels.

Weeden says: “Business originating from the GCC region staying at Shangri-La properties across Asia, Oceania, Europe and North America has been increasing exponentially year on year. Absolutely our presence here in the region and increased focus on both inbound and outbound travel has assisted that growth.”

In an interview with the operator’s global CEO Greg Dogan (see pages 32-37), it was confirmed that the Gulf is currently one of Shangri-La’s most important markets, with existing and prospective properties across Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and Oman, with the group scheduled to open its first hotel in Saudi Arabia in 2018. The group is also in discussions to open the region’s first four-star Hotel Jen, although nothing has been signed yet.

By the numbers

4 Number of years in the role
18 Number of years with company
5 Number of Middle East operating hotels
1 Number of Middle East pipeline hotels

40. Philippe Harb, Chief Operating Officer and Partner, One to One Hotels & Resorts

The COO is set to turn this company’s fortunes around

Phillipe Harb and his team have had their hands full, as the group now operates 15 hotels across the Middle East and North Africa. It successfully rebranded the Ramada in Ras Al Khaimah under its One to One banner, while on the way to registering a 60% rise in managed assets.

The story for Harb and One to One has been a positive one, having turned around the fortunes of a company that managed just two properties, and was on the verge of closing down. A renewed strategy has seen the group announce four new projects in KSA (having announced and opened four hotels in the last 12 months). Harb says: “We are looking to have 50 hotels by end of 2018.” A couple of them are slated for a 2017 opening.

In 2017, One to One will debut in Morocco and add four properties in Lebanon within the next 12 months.

Harb is, however, particularly pleased with the progress he and the company has made in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“This year in particular, I have doubled the number of rooms, and therefore, doubled the company’s portfolio, by adding 920 rooms in KSA,” Harb comments.

Harb has taken notice of healthy eating trends amongst its guests and has capitalised by cultivating its own produce. “Today, about half of the produce of vegetables used at One to One hotels in the UAE comes from our green houses in Al Ain. The cultivated land spans 3,000m2 in greenhouses that grow cucumbers, variegated eggplants, tomatoes potatoes, marrow and others. Most of the produce goes directly to our restaurants.”

By the numbers

4 Number of years in the role
5 Number of years with company

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