Dubai Holding today announced the transition of Gerald Lawless, Jumeirah Group President and CEO, to a new position responsible for tourism and hospitality in Dubai Holding’s Corporate Office, having served 18 years at the helm of Jumeirah Group.
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; where Mr Lawless will remain Chancellor. The Company has also launched Venu, its contemporary lifestyle hotel brand.
Dubai Holding also announced that Stefan Leser has been appointed 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.
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. In recognition of Gerald’s contribution to the success of Jumeirah, he will hold the title of Honorary President of the Jumeirah Group and Chancellor of the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management.”
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 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.”
Stephen Murphy, Chairman of the Jumeirah Group Board, said: ""I would like to express immense gratitude on behalf of the Jumeirah Board to Gerald for his role in setting up, growing and leading the Jumeirah Group for the past 18 years. Under his leadership, the Company has emerged as a major player in the luxury hospitality market and stands as one of the most widely recognised Dubai-born brands. As Gerald steps into his new role with Dubai Holding, the Board warmly welcomes Stefan as Group Chief Executive Officer and looks forward to fully supporting him in leading the next exciting phase of growth for Jumeirah.
“It's a great honour to join Jumeirah; one of the world’s most prestigious hospitality brands and a major contributor to Dubai’s phenomenal success story. I look forward to working closely with Jumeirah's talented team as we continue to grow our international portfolio, build our range of brands and deliver ever better services to our guests and business partners.”