Hyatt bolsters executive leadership team to support expansion plans

Hyatt Hotels Corporation has made two senior appointments to its executive leadership team in its Europe, Africa, and Middle East (EAME) region as part of a bid to grow its presence in those markets.

The hospitality company has hired Heidi Kunkel as senior vice president of commercial services and Monique Dekker as senior vice president of human resources, with the new appointees expected to be instrumental in continuing Hyatt’s growth in the region.

In 2022, 45 per cent of the 120 hotels that joined the global Hyatt portfolio were based in the EAME region, and the company expects 10 per cent of its pipeline of 117,000 rooms to join the portfolio in EAME markets in 2023.

Heidi Kunkel joins Hyatt from Hilton Hotels and Resorts, where she held the position of Vice President of Operations for Australasia. She brings 15 years of experience at Club Med with commercial and operations responsibility across Asia Pacific and Europe & Africa.

Kunkel will lead Hyatt’s Commercial Services function in the EAME region, focusing on priority source markets such as the UK, Germany, France, and Spain, and driving engagement of the World of Hyatt loyalty program.

Monique Dekker, who began her career with Hyatt 25 years ago, has held various positions across the company's properties worldwide, including that of general manager at the Park Hyatt Vienna, area vice president for Austria, Czech Republic, Italy and Hungary as well as chair for Women @ Hyatt, an initiative to accelerate and increase professional growth opportunities for female employees.

In her new role, she will be responsible for creating professional opportunities for Hyatt’s workforce of over 18,000 in the EAME region, driving the development and retention of talent as well as and advancing a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplace.

Why it matters

Hyatt's ambitious plans for growth in the EAME region, including the addition of a significant number of rooms to its portfolio, indicates optimism in the sector's recovery and potential for continued growth. In the past five years, Hyatt has doubled its luxury rooms, tripled the number of resorts and quadrupled the number of lifestyle rooms in the region.

Hyatt plans to open five Inclusive Collection resorts in Bulgaria in 2023 and 2024. It also plans to launch its Dreams brand in Portugal, with Dreams Madeira Resort Spa & Marina expected to open in 2024. Park Hyatt Johannesburg is expected to open in 2023 and the company will also enter the Moroccan market this year with Park Hyatt Marrakech. In Saudi Arabia, Grand Hyatt The Red Sea and Park Hyatt Riyadh Diriyah Gate are expected to open in 2024 and 2025, respectively.

What they said

Javier Águila, group president for EAME said: “Heidi and Monique are incredible talents and will be instrumental as Hyatt continues growing with intent here in EAME. As we scale, we want to attract and develop strong leaders who will take our culture and purpose of care out into our new properties and across our corporate offices, infusing this philosophy with our partners. I couldn’t think of two more perfect professionals to help us achieve that ambition.”

Heidi Kunkel said: “I am incredibly excited about accelerating growth opportunities for Hyatt across the EAME region. We have a great opportunity for growth in increasing direct bookings through our website and World of Hyatt app, and I look forward to working closely with Monique to develop and support the diversity of talents across our region.”

Monique Dekker said: “The strategic impact of HR is growing, and its value has never been more important. I can’t wait to turn my long-term involvement with Women @ Hyatt and with our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at property level into a major part of my new role.”