2019 has been marked as the year of change for JA Resorts & Hotels, with transformation including a forward-thinking brand refresh, an all-new food and beverage portfolio and significant international expansion across the Indian Ocean and Asia. Transforming the JA Resorts & Hotels Commercial function is German national and 20-year sales and marketing veteran, Thomas Grundner.
Born in Dusseldorf, Germany, Thomas spent his youth in Malawi, South – East Africa, where his desire to work amongst different cultures was set. He furthered his education in the UK and was selected for several accelerated, high performance courses including Cornell Financial Management Training and a Future Leaders Program, conducted by Dubai Holding through the London Business School. He began his hospitality career in Germany where he attained multiple roles across Sales and Marketing. In the year 2000, he started his first international assignment with Iberotel in Egypt as the Regional Director of Sales & Marketing. In 2002, he joined the Rotana Group as the Area Director of Sales & Marketing Abu Dhabi & Al Ain, before spending 2 years in the Canary Islands with Seaside Hotels looking after a collection of privately-owned luxury hotels as Director of Sales & Marketing.
In 2005, Grundner relocated back to the United Arab Emirates to take on a position as Director of Key Accounts within Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts and so began his reputation for excellence in strategic market penetration and global commercial initiatives within the region. Within one year he had progressed to Regional Director of Sales & Marketing for the Gulf Region. In another rapid advancement, he was appointed as the Vice President of Sales in 2008 where he managed 18 global sales offices, the Global Contact/Reservation Centre, Sales Automation, Distribution and coordinated all sales activities, locally, regionally and globally for the group. Not only did he drive significant revenue increases and establish commercial strategies, he also played a major role in the expansion of Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts as it grew from 7 to 23 properties. In 2013 he spent a year as a Consultant with the Emirates/dnata Group, where he successfully supported establishing a BedBank concept amongst other major projects, before being headhunted by Meydan Hospitality and Millennium as Head of Sales & Marketing and thus Vice President Sales and Marketing. Grundner pioneered several commercial projects and transformative initiatives including a companywide rebrand and loyalty program implementation, besides opening multiple hotels within the Middle East for Millennium.
Joining JA Resorts & Hotels in May 2017 as the group’s new Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Grundner leads a team of 40 associates across Dubai, Seychelles, the Maldives and its global commercial structure. Recognised as a talented team builder, Grundner leads the cross functional and multi-cultural Sales, Revenue, Marketing and PR divisions in reshaping the vision, driving commercial success and expanding the footprint of JA Resorts & Hotels.
A legacy UAE brand, JA Resorts & Hotels was born in 1981 and has a widely recognised reputation for excellence, in the management and operation of award-winning resorts and hotels. Taking its name from the original Jebel Ali (JA) Beach hotel, JA Resorts & Hotels portfolio now features 8 distinct properties across the UAE and Indian Ocean, each dedicated to curating unique experiences and creating unforgettable memories. Tropical escapes include JA Manafaru, the idyllic luxury island resort in pristine, lagoon-ringed Haa Alifu Atoll, at the northern tip of the Maldives and JA Enchanted Island Resort, an ultra-luxurious hideaway of 10 exquisite villas on a private island, in the middle of the protected Saint Anne Marine Park. Within the UAE, the portfolio offers five-star JA Ocean View Hotel, as well as the deluxe hotel apartments of JA Oasis Beach Tower, both located along ‘The Walk’ in Jumeirah Beach Residence. Other attractive options include the acclaimed JA The Resort - Dubai’s largest experience resort, with 1 million square metres of thrilling activities and 3 unique hotels offering 795 suites and rooms between them– JA Beach Hotel, the all-suite JA Palm Tree Court and JA Lakeview Hotel, a stunning new Golf Course adjacent property due to open on September 1st, 2019. The JA Hatta Fort Hotel completes the portfolio as Dubai’s only mountain resort, a secluded getaway amidst the stunning Hajar Mountains landscape.
Grundner’s vision for Sales & Marketing across the JA Resorts & Hotels portfolio includes a focus on driving global expansion, maintaining a brand promise of unique experiences and unforgettable memories, and attracting and developing talent to deliver market-leading performance. One of his credo’s is inspired by a Michael Schumacher quote - “Once something is a passion, the motivation is there”. In addition to spending time with his wife Uta and his 14-year-old daughter, Felicitas, Grundner is a dedicated fitness enthusiast who enjoys running and golf, having almost reached professional level as a teen, before he discovered his passion for hospitality.
See Thomas Grundner speak in the following sessions: