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Hans Olbertz heads for Vienna

Having seen Emirates Palace assume its position as the most desirable property in the Middle East – if not the world - Hans Olbertz has confirmed his departure for Vienna to take up a fresh challenge.

It has been a rollercoaster three-and-a-half years at the property for the hotelier, with a host of celebrities beating a path to the door of what many consider to the finest hotel in the Middle East.

“Of course it is nice to have met so many film stars, models, rock stars, and even the odd business tycoon,” explained Olbertz with typical self-deprecating modest.

“It is quite a rewarding aspect of our business,” he added.

Olbertz had been working for InterContinental Hotels as a general manager in South Korea when he was approached by Kempinski to take on the role in Abu Dhabi.

He was familiar with the city, having been the resident manager of the InterContinental there between 1988 and 1990.

It turned out it was an offer he could not refuse.

Hans Olbertz picks up one of Emirates Palace’s innumerable World Travel Awards from founder Graham Cooke

Under his guidance Emirates Palace has grown – both physically with the addition of new including sports facilities and restaurants and in international stature – with the World Travel Awards last year recognising the property as the World’s Leading Meetings & Conference Hotel among a host of other awards.

But it is not just the hotel which has been picking up the accolades, with Hans himself having been recognised as one of the world’s finest hoteliers by the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences.

Each year, the Academy bestows its coveted International Star Diamond Award — a recognition that many strive for, but few achieve—on superlative establishments that are deemed to be of pinnacle quality.

Emirates Palace is considered by many to be the finest hotel in the Middle East

Olbertz took the title in 2009, with Academy president Joseph Cinque, saying of Olbertz: “This is a singular honour which recognises your excellence in every phase of the hospitality industry and it places you in the highest ranks of hoteliers internationally.

“We believe in you as you exemplify the highest standards in our industry.”

In close to four decades of outstanding service in the hotel industry, Olbertz’s sterling career has included various key executive positions at InterContinental Hotel Group properties in Austria, Jordan, Egypt, Germany, Greece, England, China and Thailand.

Fluent in German and English, Olbertz graduated with a Diploma in Hotel Management from the Hotel School in Bad Reichenhall, Germany, and obtained a Diploma as a Hotel Economist from the School of Hotel Administration for Business Management in Berlin.

He also pursued higher studies from Cornell University in New York, an institution well-known for providing excellent training for leaders/senior executives in the hospitality industry.

Hans with just a handful of the great and the good who have passed through Emirates Palace

Next Challenge

But, as with all top executive, success in one area breeds a hunger for further challenges.

Although born in Cologne, Germany, Hans fell in love with Vienna after spending time working there.

He now considers the city to be home.

“To open a hotel in your hometown is fantastic,” he explained.

“One day you have to plan your retirement.”

Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna is set to open in 2012

The new Vienna property is situated in the historical heart of the Danube metropolis, and will offer exceptional service, says Hans.

The Palais Hansen is uniquely located on Schottenring, a close neighbour to the Vienna Stock Exchange, St Stephen’s Cathedral and all of Vienna’s major attractions.

And it is just 30 minutes away from the airport.

Hans Olbertz picks up for award for World’s Leading Conference Hotel with Miss World in 2009

Once renovated, the historical Viennese palace will glow as a five-star deluxe hotel, offering 150 rooms and suites, two restaurants, a bar, fitness centre and spa with pool, meeting and conference facilities as well as 18 exclusive penthouse residences.

The Neo-Renaissance building was developed in 1873 by Theophil Hansen as a hotel for the World Exhibition; during its history the Palais Hansen has since fulfilled various functions - until 2008 it was being used for office space.

It is set to open in 2012.