Gerald Lawless
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Gerald Lawless

president and group CEO, Jumeirah Group

The president and group CEO for Jumeirah Group, Gerald Lawless, is crowned this year’s most influential hotel professional in the fourth edition of the Hotelier Middle East Power 50.

Climbing to the top spot from seventh place last year, Lawless’ ranking is testament to the phenomenal growth in the Jumeirah portfolio he has driven over the past 12 months. The chain has expanded from 10 hotels in January 2011 to 21 properties as of September 2012, with new openings including several market debuts — Frankfurt, Abu Dhabi, Rome, Istanbul and Mallorca among them.

He may not run as many hotels as those operated by the international giants also featured in the Power 50, but where Lawless’ success is significant is that he has taken what was 15 years ago a small regional company, global, and with that not only put Jumeirah on the world hotels map but also contributed in no small part to Dubai’s destination status. His achievements over the past 12 months represent eight years dedicated to internationalising the Jumeirah brand, ensuring that investors the world over understand what Jumeirah stands for, and doubling the portfolio over the past year is the culmination of this effort.

This is by no means the peak for Jumeirah though. Lawless is committed to pushing expansion further still, with Jumeirah Bilgah Beach Hotel, Baku, Azerbaijan in soft opening, and Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel, Kuwait due to open before mid-2013. In total, 13 hotels are confirmed in the pipeline, but Lawless has made no secret of his desire to sign more hotels in key letterhead locations such as Paris, Hong Kong and Singapore.

While personally committed to ensuring Jumeirah continues to fulfil its expansion targets, Lawless is also dedicated to consolidating the existing business — which he helped found in 1997 after a 23-year career with Forte Hotels. Continually exceeding performance targets is a key priority. At the end of 2011, Jumeirah scored 94% within the Market Metrix Hospitality Index — the largest measure of hospitality company performance available today with 35,000 guest surveys. Dubai properties performed well, with Madinat Jumeirah reporting 80.1% occupancy at RevPAR AED 1607 averages between July 2011 to July 2012. The competitive London market is also strong, with average occupancy of 78.3% and RevPAR of AED 1568 at its hotels in the city.

And aside from Jumeirah’s hotel development, Lawless is also responsible for Jumeirah Restaurants, which launched a second Rivington Grill in Dubai this year and is set to debut Scott’s at Jumeirah at Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi soon. Meanwhile, home-grown brand The Noodle House reached UAE Superbrand status in 2012 and is set to open new outlets in Morocco, Russia and the UK later this year.

Talise, Jumeirah’s signature spa brand, has also been a target for growth under Lawless’ watch. Until January 2011, it was only present in Madinat Jumeirah. There are now Talise spas and fitness centres in 10 hotels and resorts worldwide, with more opening soon in Shanghai, Baku and Kuwait.

There has been one black mark against Jumeirah in recent weeks, however; the sale of its New York property Jumeirah Essex House by Dubai Investment Group. The sale is scheduled to complete by midnight on September 7, when JW Marriott takes over management. Only time will tell the impact of the loss, as there are currently no more Jumeirah hotels planned for the US, but for now, the firm is focused on America as a source market.

A self-confessed high achiever, Lawless believes in the philosophy that “if something is achievable, you have a duty to set about achieving it”. This attitude no doubt is behind Jumeirah’s success as well as Lawless’ many personal accolades, including being a member of the executive committee and vice chairman – corporate governance of the WTTC.

Praise for Lawless is far-reaching indeed and Ahmad Bin Byat, CEO of Jumeirah’s parent company, Dubai Holding, credits him as being “instrumental in making Jumeirah the global success story it is today”. You simply can’t argue with that.

Read a full interview with Gerald Lawless here

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Gerald Lawless
president and group CEO
Rudi Jagersbacher
area president Middle East and Africa
Guido De Wilde
senior vice president and regional director - Middle East
Selim El Zyr
co-founder, president and CEO
Alex Kyriakidis
president and managing director – Middle East and Africa
Christophe Landais
managing director
Pascal Gauvin
chief operating officer for India, the Middle East and Africa
Michel Noblet
chief executive officer
Amine E. Moukarzel
president
Ali Hamad Lakhraim Alzaabi
president and CEO
Bani Haddad
regional vice president Middle East and africa
Sami Nasser
VP Operations, GM
Mark Willis
area vice president for the Middle East & Sub Saharan Africa
Pascal Duchauffour
area vice president, Europe, Middle East & Africa
Peter Fulton
managing director
David Roberts
executive vice president Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa
Ulrich T. Eckhardt
president, Middle East and Africa,
Simon P Casson
regional vice president and general manager
Fadi Mazkour
regional director, founder
Mohammed H. Arkobi
VP and MD
Hussein Ali Hatata
vice president - hotels division
Kevin Wallace
president and CEO
Ziyad Bin Mahfouz
president
Sultan B. Al Otaibi
general manager
Hamad Abdulla Al Mulla
chief executive officer
Raj Shetty
chairman and managing worker
Magdi Samman
regional director of operations & development
Glenn De Souza
VP Int'l operations - Asia and the Middle East
Simon Coombs
president and chief executive officer
Hatem Gasmi
founder, managing director
Michel Koopman
director of operations - Middle East, general manager
Serge Zaalof
president / managing director
Peter Blackburn
president and chief executive officer
Mohamed Awadalla
area vice president
Darroch Crawford
managing director
Tarek El Sherif
managing director
Carl Henderson
general manager
Dr Ali Kasapbashi
group general manager
Shuja Zaidi
general manager, vice president of projects
Bernhard Haechler
vice president/general manager
Jiri Kobos
vice president operations
Samir Daqqaq
senior vice president, development, Middle East and Africa
Paul Arnold
vice president development - Europe, Middle East & Africa
Abdin Nasralla,
vice president
Anton Bawab
regional president
Anders Dimblad
area general manager
Russel Sharpe
chief operating officer
Daniele Vastolo
group director of operations

BY THE NUMBERS

8
Jumeirah Group Hotels open in Middle East
21
Total number of Jumeirah Hotels
5
Hotels in confirmed pipeline for Middle East
13
Total number of Jumeirah Hotels in confirmed pipeline
2
Middle East hotels opened in past 12 months
1
Middle East hotels due to open by September 2013
13,000
No. of employees
38
Years in hospitality
31
Years in Middle East
Irish
Nationality

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