Alex Kyriakidis was a new entrant to last year’s Power 50 following his appointment in January 2012. Twenty months on and he’s already accumulated some hefty achievements, most notably the opening of the first 804-room tower of the mammoth JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai.
Acknowledged by many as a true game changer for Dubai’s hotel industry, this convention hotel created quite a buzz with its three-day official opening party back in February; with both Marriott HQ and the UAE’s government and tourism chiefs watching its impact. Kyriakidis was a lynchpin in the launch, beside CEO Arne Sorenson’s side throughout the programme.
Another significant opening was the debut of Ritz-Carlton in Abu Dhabi, a monster itself with 447 rooms and 85 villas, opposite the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Again, Kyriakidis was there with Ritz-Carlton president Herve Humler to launch the property ahead of Arabian Travel Market.
Under Kyriakidis’ leadership the Marriott International Middle East portfolio stands at 34 hotels comprising 8978 rooms.
New openings over the past 12 months included Renaissance Cairo Mirage City, Courtyard by Marriott Riyadh Diplomatic Quarter, Marriott Executive Apartments Riyadh and the Residence Inn by Marriott, Juffair Bahrain.
Five more hotels are expected to open by the end of 2014, three in KSA and two in the UAE, while three Middle East hotels have been signed in the past 12 months, including the JW Marriott Hotel Jeddah and JW Marriott Doha. In total, 21 hotels totalling 6541 rooms are in the Middle East pipeline.
Meanwhile,Kyriakidis is also busy expanding the group’s reach into Africa, with 22 hotels to open across nine countries by 2018. He is keen to establish the company as a first mover in the market, already overseeing programmes to train African nationals in UAE hotels ready for launches in virgin territories such as Rwanda.
Having previously worked for Deloitte, Kyriakidis has been providing strategic, financial, M&A, and operational insights, and working across asset management and integration services to the travel, hospitality and leisure sectors for 40 years.
By the Numbers:
Marriott international hotels open in Middle East: 34
Hotels in confirmed pipeline for Middle East: 21
Middle East hotels opened in past 12 months: 2
Middle East hotels signed in past 12 months: 3
Middle East hotels due to open by end 2014: 5
Years in hospitality: 40
Years in Middle East: 30+