Rezidor Appoints Neumann as President & CEO to Succeed Ritter
By Gail Kalinoski, Contributing Editor
Wolfgang M. Neumann will take over as president and CEO of The Rezidor Hotel Group on Jan. 1 following the retirement of the hotel group’s longtime leader Kurt Ritter.
The 65-year-old Ritter, one of the longest serving CEOs in the hospitality industry, has been Rezidor’s president and CEO since 1989 and is credited with growing the portfolio to more than 430 hotels with 95,000 rooms in operation and under development across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Rezidor, headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, operates the upper upscale Radisson Blu hotels, the mid-market Park Inn by Radisson and operates and develops the luxury lifestyle brand Hotel Missoni.
Neumann, 50, has been serving as executive vice president and chief operating officer since joining Rezidor in May 2011. He came to Rezidor from Arabella Hospitality Group in Munich, where he had been the CEO. Prior to that, Neumann had spent more than 20 years with Hilton Hotels & Resorts, where he held various positions including President, United Kingdom and Ireland, and President, Europe and Africa.
“He is an internationally experienced hotelier who will build on Rezidor’s strengths as an industry leader and valuable member of the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group – with a continued focus on revenue generation and profitable growth,” said Trudy Rautio, chairman of the board of directors and president and CEO of Carlson.
Neumann said he was honored to succeed Ritter, adding that he looked forward to “leading Rezidor in our ambitious 2015 strategy.”
“We will continue to focus on meeting the needs of our guests, owners and shareholders while building with our team members on the unique culture of this dynamic company,” Neumann added.
Route 2015 is a program Rezidor started last December that aims to increase its EBITDA margin by 6 to 8 percent by 2015. The hotel group’s strategy includes partnership activities with Carlson and further growth of its portfolio, particularly on new and emerging markets like Russia/CIS and Africa. Within the last month, the group has announced plans to open Radisson Blu Hotel Cotonou in Benin, Africa; Park Inn by Radisson Dakar in Senegal, Africa; Park Inn Radisson Cape Town Newlands, South Africa, and Park Inn by Radisson Dubai Al Jadaf. Also this month, Rezidor signed a long-term strategic alliance agreement with Regent Hotels and Resorts to jointly develop and operate luxury Regent hotels in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Rautio said Ritter will be an advisor to Neumann during a three-month transition period then act as an advisor to herself.
She credited Ritter with guiding Rezidor’s growth and integrating the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. Carlson and Rezidor are separate legal entities but joined forces as the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group in January after working together on various deals for nearly 20 years. The new company immediately became one of the largest hotel groups in the world with a portfolio of more than 1,300 hotels in 80 countries.
Ritter said he was lucky to live his dream.
“I always wanted to become a hotelier and, looking back on more than 35 great years, I met inspiring people, negotiated exciting deals, and always enjoyed working in the service industry,” he added.