By Andy Sambidge
President and CEO Gerald Lawless tops Power 50 poll published by Hotelier Middle East
Jumeirah Group president and CEO Gerald Lawless has been named the most influential hotel professional in the Middle East.
Lawless has topped the 2012 edition of the Hotelier Middle East Power 50, rising six places on last year.
Lawless’ ranking is testament to the growth in the Dubai-based 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.
The Jumeirah chief edged out Rudi Jagersbacher, area president Middle East and Africa, Hilton Worldwide, at the top of the rankings.
Since taking up his role in January 2011, Jagersbacher has overseen a period of major growth for the company in the Middle East, Africa and Indian Ocean.
In the past year, five hotels have opened, including the company’s debut in Qatar, Hilton Doha, as well as DoubleTree by Hilton, RAK; Hilton Jumeirah Hotel Apartment, Dubai.
In third place was Guido De Wilde, senior vice president and regional director - Middle East, Starwood Hotels and Resorts.
Starwood is the leading hotel operator in Dubai, where the company currently has 14 hotels under five of its brands.
In what was the most talked-about hotel development deal to be announced so far this year, Starwood will add to this with three hotels on Sheikh Zayed Road — the St Regis, Westin and W — being built on the site of the former Metropolitan by the Habtoor Group.
Hotelier Middle East said the Power 50 rankings were based on portfolio and pipeline, activity over the past 12 months and plans for the coming year, along with the reputation of the individual among their peers and their dedication to developing the Middle East hospitality and tourism industry generally.
Selim El Zyr, co-founder, president and CEO, Rotana, and Alex Kyriakidis, president and managing director – Middle East and Africa, Marriott International, made up the top five places in the Power 50.
El Zyr has led the diversification of Rotana brands to capitalise on all market segments including the all-suites Arjaan, midscale business Centro Hotels by Rotana, and the alcohol-free Rayhaan Hotels & Resorts, in addition to the original five-star Rotana.
Kyriakidis is set to lead major growth for Marriott with 22 properties scheduled to join its portfolio in the region through 2015, adding 7,321 rooms.
Christophe Landais, managing director, Accor Middle East, Pascal Gauvin, chief operating officer for India, the Middle East and Africa, InterContinental Hotels Group, Michel Noblet, chief executive officer, Hospitality Management Holdings, Amine E Moukarzel, president, Golden Tulip MENA, and Ali Hamad Lakhraim Alzaabi, president and CEO, Millennium and Copthorne Middle East rounded out the top 10 positions.