Phil Blizzard in Dubai reports on the announcement by Dubai Holding that Gerald Lawless, Jumeirah Group President and CEO is to depart to a new post. Having held the helm of the Jumeirah Group for 18 years the transition will see Mr Lawless taking up a new position in Dubai Holding’s Corporate Office. Along with being responsible for tourism and hospitality he will remain Chancellor of the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management and will hold the title of Honorary President of the Jumeirah Group.
His Excellency Mohammad Abdulla Al Gergawi, Chairman of Dubai Holding, thanked Mr Lawless for his leadership of the Jumeirah Group: “We appreciate the role that Gerald has played as the founding CEO of the Jumeirah Group and its subsequent expansion. As a tireless ambassador for tourism and hospitality in Dubai, he is a leader admired across the industry for his commitment to innovation and excellence in the field of luxury hospitality and has been an inspiration to Jumeirah employees, to guests and to other stakeholders in the sector. Jumeirah Group has been a consistently valuable engine of international growth for Dubai Holding and its future expansion will further enhance that impact. We are delighted to have the opportunity of benefitting from Gerald’s expertise in building our own integrated vision for the hospitality sector.”
Mr Lawless first came to Dubai in 1978 and since then has devoted almost 30 years of his professional life to the city. After a 23-year career with Forte Hotels, he joined Jumeirah Group in 1997 and since then has built the company into one of the best-known luxury hospitality brands in the world.
As well as leading the drive to establish Burj Al Arab Jumeirah as the most luxurious hotel in the world and a symbol of Dubai as a luxury destination, Mr Lawless spearheaded the expansion of the Company’s portfolio, which now includes 23 hotels in 12 destinations, stretching from London to Shanghai, with a robust pipeline of new openings planned. Jumeirah Group operates over 100 restaurants, the Wild Wadi Waterpark and the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management. The Company has also launched Venu, its contemporary lifestyle hotel brand.
Dubai Holding also announced that Stefan Leser has been appointed Group Chief Executive of Jumeirah Group, effective from 1 February 2016. Mr Leser joins from Swiss travel business Kuoni, where he spent the last 10 years, most recently as Executive Vice President of its outbound travel and inbound specialist businesses managing a team of 8,000 employees.
Commenting on his new role, Gerald Lawless said: “It has been an immense honour and privilege to have been entrusted with setting up the Jumeirah Group, with the development of its outstanding portfolio of luxury hotels and other businesses and the promotion of the brand internationally. I would like to express my thanks to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai for giving me this opportunity, to Dubai Holding for their support over the years and to the Company’s 14,000 colleagues who have made Jumeirah what it is today. As I move forward into a new set of responsibilities at Dubai Holding, I look forward to a smooth transition with Stefan, and also to assuming the Chairmanship of the World Travel & Tourism Council in April 2016.”