Selim El Zyr (EHL 1970) has been recognized as the Middle East’s most powerful hotelier
Selim El Zyr (EHL 1970), the President & CEO of Rotana, has been recognized as the Middle East’s most powerful hotelier and most influential industry professional in the first edition of the “Hotelier Middle East Power 50”.
El Zyr’s constant assessment and investment has ensured that the brand has remained at the forefront of industry trends with the development of a wide range of innovative international products and services. To highlight a few of the brand’s milestones achieved through El Zyr’s vision and commitment, Rotana Rewards loyalty programme; Club Rotana Executive Club concept; and spa arm Zen the spa at Rotana are initiatives which have set a path for other hotels to follow.
In 1996 Rotana introduced the new all-suite concept, which has been recently rebranded to Arjaan Hotel Apartments by Rotana. Alcohol-free brand Rayhaan Hotels & Resorts was launched in March 2008 and the new business-focused Centro Hotels by Rotana brand is soon to make its debut. Among the flags set to join the company’s portfolio this year are Centro Yas Island, Yas Island Rotana, Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan, Park Rotana, Park Arjaan, and Hala Arjaan — all in Abu Dhabi. The company will also open Raouché Arjaan by Rotana in Beirut, Amwaj Rotana in Dubai, Centro Barsha in Dubai, and Al Marwa Rayhaan in Makka.
The upshot of this is that Rotana is well on its way to achieving El Zyr’s strategic goal to have a property located in every key city in the MENA Region through careful, long-term planning and timely action.
How did it all start?
“Since 1964, which was the first time I was in a hotel, I knew that’s where I wanted to be. I was simply bewitched: the colors, the cars stopping at the front porch, the uniformed bell boys… I stayed for ten minutes by the door, plenty of time for me to watch the people coming and going on the escalators. Then I moved to the lobby, which was even grander. The sights I saw in the hotel that day triggered my lifelong interest in hotels. A few weeks later, I finished military service and went to L’Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland at the age of 18 where I began my journey through hospitality”, said El Zyr.
Mr. Selim El Zyr Co-founder, President and CEO of Rotana graduated from L’Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland in 1970. After completion of his further studies in Cornell and Columbia Universities, Selim held his first job as Chief Steward in the Waldurf in New York. Selim then spent 12 years with Hilton International in Germany, Spain, Egypt, Canada and the U.A.E. until he earned the title of Regional Director before he decided to shift into industrial catering by establishing a leading Lebanese fast food chain in 1982. After Lebanon he then moved to the U.A.E. in the capacity of Vice President for Abu Dhabi National Hotels overseeing their operations in the Emirates as well as overseas.
However, his biggest achievement was the co-founding in 1992 of Rotana, the first Middle Eastern hotel management company, with a portfolio of 68 across the Middle East. With his management expertise Selim El Zyr has ensured that the signature trademark is steadily making Rotana’s presence known in every city within the Region.
Rotana SVP UAE Operations Omer Kaddouri has worked with El Zyr for 11 years and says “When you look up in the dictionary the word for drive, detail, passion, ambition, advisor, teacher, businessman and friend, you should be looking for Selim El Zyr”.
“You can be anything you want, but be the best at your chosen profession. Even the best carpenter is better than an average doctor. It’s something I have grown fond of repeating to my colleagues and family, which was said to me by my father”, words by Mr. El Zyr.
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