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MARK WILLIS

Area senior vice president Middle East, Turkey, and Africa, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group
Willis has been focused on many initiatives that centre around diversity, inclusion, and equal rights last year

What’s really impressive about the last 12 months for the Rezidor Hotel Group is the 50 properties it reportedly has in its pipeline for the Middle East and North Africa, up from 21 in the Middle East last year. With 39 operating properties and 8,751 rooms, Mark Willis (who in the last year was promoted to a senior role and added Africa to his portfolio), says that in Saudi Arabia, the company is “one of the fastest-growing hotel groups”, with expansion in both primary and secondary cities.

Willis has been focused on many initiatives that centre around diversity, inclusion, and equal rights last year. The operator was the first in hospitality worldwide to appoint a Saudi female general manager, in March 2017. The appointment complements Saudi Vision 2030, which emphasises the Saudi women’s role in leading the development of both social and professional growth in the Kingdom.

Staff development is enormously important, says Willis: “I truly believe what motivates talent to excel is when they have a sense of purpose and when they are recognised for great work. I am pleased that I can demonstrate many examples of this, like our mentee programme, which has seen multiple Rezidorians progress to general manager level in the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa region.”

The operator also spearheads a development programme called STEPS, designed to accelerate the careers of talented females across the group. It was also the first hospitality company to introduce an enhanced maternity leave policy in the Middle East region, offering 60 days’ maternity leave in the UAE and Oman, and 70 days in Kuwait and Lebanon — an increase on the respective countries’ statutory levels for private-sector companies.

The owner-operator relationship is key to Rezidor’s success. And while the group is no longer managing what was earlier flagged as the Radisson Blu Downtown hotel, during an interview with a Rezidor spokesperson earlier this year Hotelier was told that this was a mutual and amicable decision.

Willis emphasises the importance of working well with owners: “The success in establishing relationships with new — and strengthening relationships with existing — owners is evidenced in the continued growth within the region, with more than 180 hotels in operation or under development in the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa. Our strong pipeline is now coming to fruition and we are pleased that we will have more than 25 hotels opening across the region in this year alone. And we set a new record when we signed the largest Radisson Blu and Park Inn by Radisson hotels in the world in Makkah this year.”

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ALEX KYRIAKIDIS
President and managing director
OLIVIER GRANET
Managing director and chief operating officer
PASCAL GAUVIN
Chief operating officer, India, Middle East and Africa
MARK WILLIS
Area senior vice president Middle East, Turkey, and Africa
ANDREAS MATTMÜLLER
Chief operating officer, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts
ALI HAMAD LAKHRAIM ALZAABI
Founder, president, and CEO, Millennium Hotels & Resorts
OMER KADDOURI
President and CEO
ROBERT KUNKLER
Chief operating officer
KAMEL AJAMI
Vice president operations
AMINE MOUKARZEL
President/ partner
IGNACE BAUWENS
Wyndham Hotel Group regional vice president
SAMI NASSER
COO luxury brands
PETER FULTON
Group president – Europe, Africa, Middle East, and Southwest Asia
HUSSAIN SAJWANI
Chairman
Simon Casson
President – hotel operations, Europe, Middle East & Africa
Dr Badr Al Badr
Chief executive officer
Antoine El Sayegh
President
Imad Elias
CEO
Vincent Miccolis
Country general manager, Middle East and Turkey
Mohamed Ahmed Awadalla
Chief executive officer
Henk Meyknecht
Chief operating officer, Middle East and Africa
Andrew Shaw
Assistant vice president — development EMEA
Laurent A. Voivenel
Senior vice president, operations, and development for the Middle East, Africa, and India
Sumair Tariq
Managing director
Baran Turkel
Managing directorTurkey, Middle East, and Central Asia,
Hatem Gasmi
Founder and managing director,
Aboudi Asali
Chief executive officer
Gabriel Escarrer Jaume
Vice chairman and CEO
Jamal Serhan
CEO and senior vice president
Hussein Ali Hatata
Vice president, hospitality division
Marc Dardenne
Group chief operating officer and interim CEO
Siegfried Nierhaus
Vice president Middle East
Rob Weeden
Vice president sales and marketing Europe
Kamal Fakhoury
Chief executive officer
Nehme Imad Darwiche
Founder and chief executive officer
Mohamed Soussan
Group general manager
Simon Coombs
President and CEO
Suparat Chirathivat
Vice president business development
David Grant Thomson
Chief operating officer
Prithvi Raj Singh Oberoi
Executive chairman
Philippe Zuber
President and chief operating officer
Anton Bawab
Regional president
Frederic Flageat-Simon
Chief executive officer
Sir Rocco Forte
Founder and chairman
Philippe Harb
Chief operating officer and partner
Ranjit Phillipose
General manager

BY THE NUMBERS

6
Previous Ranking
5
Number of years in the role
16
Number of years with the company
39
Number of operating hotels in the region as of July 2017
50
Number of pipeline hotels in the region as of July 2017

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