Industry veteran Peter blackburn is accumulating Air miles as he flies around the region to oversee new hotel openings for cristal group.
Describing himself as a very hands-on boss, who is always looking to lead by example, Blackburn has led Cristal Group through the downturn to emerge with ambitious plans.
Having established the Abu Dhabi-based company in 2007 just ahead of the recession, he drew on his 25 years of industry experience — 17 of those in the Middle East — to keep the company profitable.
“We suffered some set-backs in 2012 and 2013, which we managed to overcome in 2014. The future now looks bright,” Blackburn tells Hotelier.
A pipeline of 16 hotels in development — the first stage of plans to have 50 hotels across the MENA region by 2020 — means Blackburn is “currently living on a plane overseeing new openings”, while at the same time empowering his team to “improve on our designs and operations through new ideas”.
The company is setting up a new office in Turkey to capitalise on the growth in the country’s hospitality sector, with a target of eight new hotels there within three years. Meanwhile construction is underway for the Cristal Grand Erbil Hotel, the company’s third in Iraq, despite suffering a car bomb attack in the carpark of the Cristal Grand Ishtar in Baghdad in June.