Selim El Zyr, Rotana’s Co-founder, President and Chief Executive Officer, has achieved a new success by being awarded the ‘Hospitality CEO of the Year’ at the 2011 CEO Middle East Awards. This achievement proves once again the continuous success of Rotana, the leading hotel management company in the Middle East and Africa, and confirms the step-by-step strategy which has been ingeniously applied since its opening to include region-wide expansion.
The ‘Hospitality CEO of the Year’ award is recognised as one of the most prominent and prestigious awards granted in the business calendar, as it strongly reflects the astounding success of businesses across the Middle East and Africa. This award is aimed at honouring Chief Executive Officers and recognising their efforts in innovative business development and business excellence in addition to publicly acknowledging the positive impact they and their corporations have contributed to the vibrancy of business across the region.
El Zyr graduated from ‘Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne’ located in Switzerland in 1970 and then pursued his higher studies in both Cornell and Columbia Universities in the United States of America. He began his career as Chief Steward at the Waldorf in New York and then spent 12 years with Hilton International in Germany, Spain, Egypt, Canada and the United Arab Emirates leading him to the title of Regional Director before he decided to shift into industrial catering by establishing a leading fast food chain in Lebanon in 1982. However he moved to Abu Dhabi in 1988 where he then joined Abu Dhabi National Hotels as Vice President overseeing their operations in the Emirates as well as overseas.
It cannot be denied that one of El Zyr’s biggest achievements took place in 1992 when he co-founded ‘Rotana’, the first Middle Eastern hotel management company, which currently holds an impressive portfolio of 70 properties across the Middle East and Africa. With his extensive managerial expertise, Selim El Zyr has been spreading Rotana’s trademark and succeeded in doing so by making it an iconic hospitality institution known in every city within the region.
Ongoing innovations including constant assessment and continuous investments in a wide range of innovative international products and services by El Zyr has made Rotana a leader in the hospitality industry. Some of El Zyr’s newly designed concepts included introduction of the “All Suites” concept which was rebranded to Arjaan Hotel Apartments by Rotana in 2008. In 2006, he introduced the Centro Hotels by Rotana concept which is a modern, stylish and affordable business hotel brand designed to cater to this rapidly expanding market. In 2008, he launched Rayhaan Hotels & Resorts, the alcohol-free chain of hotels by Rotana.
El Zyr also introduced a range of new concepts and programs, some of which included an award-winning loyalty program, ‘Rotana Rewards’, an exclusive club concept, ‘Club Rotana’, and a spa concept, ‘Zen the Spa at Rotana’, in addition to partnering with some of the world’s most respected franchises like the esteemed Blue Elephant, Trader Vic’s, and Benihana to further strengthen Rotana’s offering.
Selim El Zyr has won considerable industry recognition and has been recognized by many institutions such as the Middle East’s most powerful hotelier and most influential industry professional in the first edition of the “Hotelier Middle East Power 50” in 2009 and went on to receive an honorary doctorate of Business Administration in Hospitality Management from Johnson & Wales University in 2010. In addition to being selected as the Middle East CEO of the Year in 2004 by Datamatix, Lebanon’s President also took part in honoring him with the National Cedar Decoration in 2003.