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Gerald Lawless, CEO, Jumeirah

May 1, 2006
2006 / May 2006

Global Traveler: Tell us about your career at Jumeirah and in the hospitality/travel industry?
Gerald Lawless: I worked most of my hotel life with the Forte Hotel Group and was stationed three times in the Gulf area, twice in Dubai and once in Bahrain. I was with the regional office of Forte in 1994 when they assumed the Meridien Hotel in Dubai. In June 1997 I was offered a position overseeing the opening of The Jumeirah Beach Hotel and setting up the company organization. I have been with the company ever since — through the transition and building of Emirates Towers and our worldwide expansion including the recent re-brand from Jumeirah International to Jumeirah.

GT: What are Jumeirah’s plans for the Essex House in New York City and for the North American market?
GL: As part of our global strategy, we plan to manage 40 hotels within the next five years all over the world. We have a very strong group of hotels in Dubai, two in London and now New York. We would like to further expand into other parts of the world including China (where we have just announced a property), Southeast Asia, Europe (Munich and Paris, for example) and major gateways in the United States. The Essex House was a natural progression for us. It offers an excellent anchor to set up our sales and marketing offices in the United States, so we are prepared for the expansion. We have three sales offices in the works in the United States — New York, Chicago, Los Angeles — and possibly the Caribbean. We see possible locations for Jumeirah properties in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, Miami and Boston.

GT: With Emirates flying to the United States, have you found a significant increase in American travelers to Dubai?
GL: Certainly with Emirates flying to Dubai nonstop from North America we have seen a significant increase in traffic from the North American market. We have also seen an increased knowledge of Dubai and the Gulf region due to their efforts. We are looking at the MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and events) market as a real growth area for our properties in Dubai. We also feel individual business travelers will think of Dubai as a place to bring their families for an extended business trip or holiday. The cruise market is another opportunity. Silversea has already added Dubai to its permanent visit roster.

GT: Do you expect guests who have experienced Jumeirah properties in Dubai and London to frequent the Essex House?
GL: We aspire to be at the top end of the market with Four Seasons or Ritz Carlton, but we want our hotels and the experience of our guests to be different. Each hotel has its own personality. We also are excited about the team at Jumeirah Essex House. Their attitude, motivation and support in the transition process has been incredible. We will be refurbishing the property, including the public areas and the rooms. Celebrating its 75th anniversary, it is the story of a 5-star hotel that is not turning condo, but continuing its tradition of luxury. We have also invested a great deal into our Recognition & Rewards program, Sirius, so we can track our most loyal customers and guests to deliver an experience that meets their expectations.

GT: What can the North American market expect from Jumeirah in the terms of quality and service?
GL: Our corporate branding is “Stay Different.” That covers everything from architecture to service and hospitality. We allow the general manager of each property the freedom to make his or her property unique. Our company culture is based around three hallmarks that all of us practice all day and every day. Always smile first and greet the guest before they greet you. Our management teams will lead by example. Our first response to a guest will never be “no.” If it eventually has to be no, we exhaust all opportunities to make it happen first. Respect and have integrity with each other. These hallmarks make Jumeirah a unique stay for the frequent traveler.


FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.


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