Is it time for the rise of the smaller brands? As industry consolidation continues to see the large operators grow in size are smaller, regionally focused operators the alternative some owners have been looking for?
Stephen Sackur Presenter – HARDTalk
Presenter – HARDTalk
Stephen Sackur is presenter of HARDtalk, the current affairs interview on BBC World and the News Channel. His subjects have included the heads of NATO and OPEC, Shimon Peres, Gore Vidal and Richard Dawkins.
For HARDtalk he has also interviewed a number of the world’s great innovators, from James Dyson to Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia and the bioscientist Craig Ventor. Distilling his notes for a series of articles, Stephen identiﬁed the ﬁve qualities they all seemed to share: an indestructible will, passion (almost beyond reason), outrageous optimism, a super-sized ego and a ‘rebel yell.’
These interviews have also given him an insight into how organisations can best bring about innovation: “You need to ﬁnd ways to assess individuals on their merits, and give rewards for innovative thinking rather than play-it-safe mediocrity. You should encourage insiders to get outside and bring back fresh insights. And you shouldn’t confuse seniority with creativity.”
Away from set-piece interviews Stephen has served in Brussels, reporting on day-to-day stories from the major European institutions and across the continent. Before that he was Washington Correspondent, where his coverage and analysis of 9/11 won widespread acclaim.
Ten years earlier it was Stephen who broke the story of the mass killing on the Basra road out of Kuwait, marking the end of the Gulf War. He was then posted to Cairo and Jerusalem as Middle East Correspondent, where he reported on the emergence of the Palestinian Authority.
Mohamed Awadalla Chief Executive Officer – Time Hotels
Chief Executive Officer – Time Hotels
An international hotelier with over 30 years’ experience, Mohamed Awadalla has worked with some of the leading global hospitality companies including Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, Hilton International, Rotana Hotels and now at TIME Hotels Management L.L.C where he was one of the founding members.
After completing his studies at the German Academic Institute for Hotel Management in 1985, Awadalla began his career with the well-known Swiss hotel group, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, in the Egyptian city of Luxor. He then joined Hilton International in Luxor and was subsequently tasked with running the travel trade division out of the Area Sales Office in Cairo, with the responsibility of 12 properties.
In 1996 Awadalla relocated to the UAE, and returned to operations, joining the Hilton Corniche Residence team in Abu Dhabi as Rooms Division Manager. Recognising the Emirates’ burgeoning potential in the hospitality sector in 2000 he was appointed Director of Business Development for the Al Ain Hilton Hotel, where he spent two years driving the brand’s business strategies.
Following his successful tenure with Hilton International, Awadalla was headhunted by UAE-headquartered Rotana Hotels and joined the Al Maha Rotana, Abu Dhabi, as General Manager in 2004. His reputation for operational excellence then saw him take on the role as opening General Manager for the new five-star Al Manshar Rotana in Kuwait City, where he quickly established brand presence, setting new standards of hospitality within the local market.
Being one of the founders of TIME Hotels Management in 2007, Awadalla started as the Area Vice President. In 2012 he moved to the position of CEO with overall responsibility for the company’s Ten Hotels, Hotel Apartments and Residence with a remit to spearhead the future development and drive the commercial success of TIME’s rapidly expanding portfolio of Middle East and Northern Africa based properties.
Thomas Grundner Vice President Sales & Marketing – JA Resorts & Hotels
Vice President Sales & Marketing – JA Resorts & Hotels
2019 has been marked as the year of change for JA Resorts & Hotels, with transformation including a forward-thinking brand refresh, an all-new food and beverage portfolio and significant international expansion across the Indian Ocean and Asia. Transforming the JA Resorts & Hotels Commercial function is German national and 20-year sales and marketing veteran, Thomas Grundner.
Born in Dusseldorf, Germany, Thomas spent his youth in Malawi, South – East Africa, where his desire to work amongst different cultures was set. He furthered his education in the UK and was selected for several accelerated, high performance courses including Cornell Financial Management Training and a Future Leaders Program, conducted by Dubai Holding through the London Business School. He began his hospitality career in Germany where he attained multiple roles across Sales and Marketing. In the year 2000, he started his first international assignment with Iberotel in Egypt as the Regional Director of Sales & Marketing. In 2002, he joined the Rotana Group as the Area Director of Sales & Marketing Abu Dhabi & Al Ain, before spending 2 years in the Canary Islands with Seaside Hotels looking after a collection of privately-owned luxury hotels as Director of Sales & Marketing.
In 2005, Grundner relocated back to the United Arab Emirates to take on a position as Director of Key Accounts within Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts and so began his reputation for excellence in strategic market penetration and global commercial initiatives within the region. Within one year he had progressed to Regional Director of Sales & Marketing for the Gulf Region. In another rapid advancement, he was appointed as the Vice President of Sales in 2008 where he managed 18 global sales offices, the Global Contact/Reservation Centre, Sales Automation, Distribution and coordinated all sales activities, locally, regionally and globally for the group. Not only did he drive significant revenue increases and establish commercial strategies, he also played a major role in the expansion of Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts as it grew from 7 to 23 properties. In 2013 he spent a year as a Consultant with the Emirates/dnata Group, where he successfully supported establishing a BedBank concept amongst other major projects, before being headhunted by Meydan Hospitality and Millennium as Head of Sales & Marketing and thus Vice President Sales and Marketing. Grundner pioneered several commercial projects and transformative initiatives including a companywide rebrand and loyalty program implementation, besides opening multiple hotels within the Middle East for Millennium.
Joining JA Resorts & Hotels in May 2017 as the group’s new Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Grundner leads a team of 40 associates across Dubai, Seychelles, the Maldives and its global commercial structure. Recognised as a talented team builder, Grundner leads the cross functional and multi-cultural Sales, Revenue, Marketing and PR divisions in reshaping the vision, driving commercial success and expanding the footprint of JA Resorts & Hotels.
A legacy UAE brand, JA Resorts & Hotels was born in 1981 and has a widely recognised reputation for excellence, in the management and operation of award-winning resorts and hotels. Taking its name from the original Jebel Ali (JA) Beach hotel, JA Resorts & Hotels portfolio now features 8 distinct properties across the UAE and Indian Ocean, each dedicated to curating unique experiences and creating unforgettable memories. Tropical escapes include JA Manafaru, the idyllic luxury island resort in pristine, lagoon-ringed Haa Alifu Atoll, at the northern tip of the Maldives and JA Enchanted Island Resort, an ultra-luxurious hideaway of 10 exquisite villas on a private island, in the middle of the protected Saint Anne Marine Park. Within the UAE, the portfolio offers five-star JA Ocean View Hotel, as well as the deluxe hotel apartments of JA Oasis Beach Tower, both located along ‘The Walk’ in Jumeirah Beach Residence. Other attractive options include the acclaimed JA The Resort - Dubai’s largest experience resort, with 1 million square metres of thrilling activities and 3 unique hotels offering 795 suites and rooms between them– JA Beach Hotel, the all-suite JA Palm Tree Court and JA Lakeview Hotel, a stunning new Golf Course adjacent property due to open on September 1st, 2019. The JA Hatta Fort Hotel completes the portfolio as Dubai’s only mountain resort, a secluded getaway amidst the stunning Hajar Mountains landscape.
Grundner’s vision for Sales & Marketing across the JA Resorts & Hotels portfolio includes a focus on driving global expansion, maintaining a brand promise of unique experiences and unforgettable memories, and attracting and developing talent to deliver market-leading performance. One of his credo’s is inspired by a Michael Schumacher quote - “Once something is a passion, the motivation is there”. In addition to spending time with his wife Uta and his 14-year-old daughter, Felicitas, Grundner is a dedicated fitness enthusiast who enjoys running and golf, having almost reached professional level as a teen, before he discovered his passion for hospitality.
Andrew Reitmaier Director – Corporate Development – Oakwood®
Director – Corporate Development – Oakwood®
“Oakwood Worldwide is one of the largest providers of corporate housing and serviced apartment solutions across the world. This award-winning company provides move-in-ready furnished housing designed to meet the needs of global organisations, individual travellers and insurance clients on long and short-term assignments.
As an integral member of the Investment and Asset Management team, Andrew is responsible for leading all real estate development activities, including acquisitions and management deals throughout the EMEA region. Andrew brings to Oakwood extensive senior level hospitality and consulting experience spanning over 20 years with both hotel owning and operating companies across the EMEA region, where he was responsible for strategy, asset management and advising and overseeing hospitality and real estate developments and investments.”