Jumeirah, which built its reputation on raising the bar for
luxury hotels with properties like Dubai's Burj Al Arab, is making a new and
seemingly aggressive play in the increasingly competitive culinary arena.
The company last week announced the hiring of the Michelin
Hotel and Restaurant Guide's former global director, Michael Ellis, as chief
culinary officer. The hiring of Ellis is a first
step in new CEO Jose Silva's vision of making dining not only a core pillar of
the Jumeirah experience but also its "strongest market differentiator."
Silva, who came to Jumeirah from Four Seasons in January,
has tasked Ellis "with developing new restaurant concepts, attracting and
[training] culinary talent and enhancing existing restaurants to
industry-leading levels," the company said.
With the hiring of Ellis, Silva said, Jumeirah is preparing
for "a step-change" in its food and beverage strategy that will "shake
the norms, drive creativity and reinvigorate its gastronomic experiences,
reinforcing Jumeirah as a national champion."
Food has become a centerpiece of both luxury travel and
travel in general, with everything from hotels to river cruise lines adopting
farm-to-table and hyperlocal menu options. Meanwhile, meal-sharing services
like EatWith and CuisineBlue offer travelers the opportunity to take cooking
lessons and enjoy meals in the homes of locals.
An advocate for the restaurant industry and an American with
global experience, Ellis "has an unmatched understanding of destination
restaurants," the company said.
"Michael and I share a deep passion for food and dining
experiences," Silva said. "He is a renowned epicure with 40 years'
experience and a champion of food innovators, chef talent and culinary
excellence. He has spent his lifetime championing extraordinary food with
absolute dedication and has been responsible for introducing dining and food
experiences to new audiences across the globe. His appointment is the
cornerstone of the vision to put dining at the center of Jumeirah's luxury
Ellis joins the company at a time of substantial growth and
change. Jumeirah Group, a member of Dubai Holding, operates and manages 15
properties in the Middle East, including the flagship Burj Al Arab, as well as
five properties in Europe and two in Asia. It also has 18 properties under
construction around the globe.
The company was led for 18 years by CEO Gerald Lawless, who
left in 2016. He was replaced by Stefan Leser, who was there for just a year
and is now CEO of Langham Hospitality Group.
Ellis said he is excited to be part of Silva's "bold
and exciting vision to energize the hospitality industry."
He added: "The kitchen is where revolutions happen, and
as a creative culinary thinker, I am delighted to have an opportunity to test
my own and the team's drive for culinary innovation. Jumeirah is synonymous with
Dubai, a city that has made the impossible possible, which led the world in
many firsts, and I am excited by this zealous can-do spirit."