Yet again Irish hotelier Gerald Lawless is in the Power 50 top 10, as he continues to build upon the phenomenal growth that saw him ranked in the top spot last year.
Over the course of 2013, Jumeirah Group has opened two new hotels in new markets — Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel in Kuwait and Jumeirah Bilgah Beach Hotel in Baku. In total, the group now manages 22 hotels and resorts across 10 countries, including two serviced residences, in the cities Abu Dhabi, Baku, Dubai, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Kuwait, London, Maldives, Rome, Shanghai and Mallorca.
The group is remaining tight-lipped on pipeline properties, although this time last year it confirmed 13 hotels in the pipeline, five of which were in the Middle East.
In November last year, Lawless signed Jumeirah Mumbai in India, another new territory, and he’s made no secret of his desire to sign more hotels in key letterhead locations such as Paris, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Closer to home though and Jumeirah is set to continue its market leading position in Dubai with the extension of Madinat Jumeirah set to commence this year.
“Our most exciting plan for the UAE is the development of the extension to Madinat Jumeirah, which will consist of a high-end luxury beachfront 420-room hotel. We expect work on this project to start during the year and believe that by the time it opens towards the end of 2015 it will represent a major contribution to the Dubai hospitality scene. We expect to announce further projects in the Middle East in due course.”
Ensuring Madinat Jumeirah continues to dominate Dubai’s beach tourism will contribute also to Dubai’s reputation as a luxury beach destination, something Lawless has been instrumental in supporting through his work with Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.
He is a vital force in the emirate’s reputation and continued success, thanks to the company he helped establish in 1997 and has since gone to great lengths to internationalise.
Investors and developers the world over understand what Jumeirah stands for, and doubling the portfolio in 2011-2012 was testament to this effort.
Lawless has worked in hospitality for 39 years, spending four years in the Middle East from 1978 to 1982, then again in Bahrain from 1988 to 1990. Following that he came back to Dubai with Forte Hotels in 1990 and has called it home ever since.
Lawless is a member of the Executive Committee and Vice Chairman – Corporate Governance of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC); and a fellow member of the Institute of Hospitality (formerly HCIMA).
In addition, Lawless is a member of the Aviation, Travel and Tourism council of the World Economic Forum (WEF), member of the Board of Trustees of the Emirates National Development Programme (ENDP) and a Non-Executive Director at the Travelodge Board. He also serves as the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management.