Kurt Ritter Celebrates 30 Years at The Helm at Rezidor SAS

26 Sep 2006

Rezidor SAS, celebrate 30 years with the group, out of which 17 years as the President & CEO, steering the company through a dramatic growth period, which now sees Rezidor SAS as a global operator of multiple hotel brands.

Born in Switzerland in 1947, Mr. Ritter had an early start in the hospitality industry as a child growing up in his parents' hotel, learning the meaning of providing guests with attentive service at a very early age. After completing his formal education at the Ecole Supérieure de Commerce du Canton de Vaud, Mr. Ritter graduated from the prestigious Hotel Management College in Lausanne and took up his first position in the Hotel Bellevue Palace in Bern as assistant manager in 1970.

For the next six years, Mr. Ritter worked with Ramada Hotels in Paris, London, Cologne, Frankfurt and also in Sweden before joining SAS International Hotels (SIH) as GM of SAS Hotel in Lulea in Sweden.

In 1979, Mr. Ritter moved to the Middle East to take up a similar position at the SAS Kuwait Hotel. Within five years he had progressed to be promoted to Vice President Middle East for SAS International Hotels, moving to Singapore for this post. In spring 1988, Mr. Ritter became Vice President & COO and returned to Europe, where he was appointed President & CEO of SIH in 1989 deciding to relocate the corporate office from Oslo to the strategically better placed Brussels, providing the company with an optimum starting position for global expansion.

Under Mr. Ritter's direction, in 1994, SAS International Hotels closed an agreement with Carlson Hotels Worldwide for the Radisson brand, which represented the basis for Radisson SAS growth from 29 to the current 185 hotels in 47 countries. Since this time, Ritter has also held the position of President & CEO of Radisson SAS Hotels & Resorts.

In 2001, Mr. Ritter masterminded the renaming of SIH to Rezidor SAS Hospitality to reflect the new strategy as a global operator of diverse hotel brands. This was quickly followed by another major step in September 2002, when a fresh strategic agreement with Carlson Hotels Worldwide was signed. As a result, in addition to the Radisson brand, Rezidor SAS Hospitality also became a strong partner for the Park Inn, Country Inn and Regent brands in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In June 2005, Rezidor SAS Hospitality completed the strategic agreement with US-based Carlson Hotels Worldwide, which resulted in an enhancement of the long-time franchise partnership into a shareholder agreement. Carlson Hotels acquired a 25% shareholding in Rezidor SAS from SAS Group in return for renegotiated commercial terms of the parties’ current master franchise agreements. In November 2005, Mr. Ritter signed a worldwide license agreement with the Italian fashion house Missoni, to develop and operate a lifestyle hotel brand of the same name: Hotel Missoni.

Under Ritter's direction, the Radisson SAS brand has enjoyed record-breaking growth and more than quintupled the number of hotels in just five years.

Mr. Ritter has made an unparalleled contribution to the success of the group to date taking the portfolio from 29 hotels in 1994 to the current 271 hotels, spread out over five dynamic hotel brands, encompassing over 55,000 rooms in operation and under development in 47 countries. Mr. Ritter’s aim is to continue to develop at this pace with an ambition of growing the portfolio by 40 new hotel deals per year.

Ritter’s outstanding achievements have been noted by his peer group and Mr. Ritter has been awarded Honorary Doctorates and awards including the ‘HOTELS’ "Corporate Hotelier of the World 2002", and the "International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF) Lifetime Achievement Award".

Known for his traditional values, visionary spirit, straightforwardness, and unparallel belief in genuine customer service, Mr. Ritter has already made a strong mark in the hospitality industry and raised the bars in every possible way for his peers and followers. Mr. Ritter is married to Lara Ritter, has three children and lives in Brussels.