Describe your role in one sentence: My job is to oversee all the hotel deals that will ensure Cycas Hospitality manages 10,000 rooms across Europe by 2020.
How did you come to join Cycas? As a born and bred hotelier who first started working in hotels aged 15, I have managed properties across four continents. Once I decided it was time for a new challenge, I realised some of my most satisfying roles had involved hotel development. When I first met Cycas’s co-founders it felt like I’d come home – their vision of creating something unique within the hotel market that translated into happy, loyal guests and delighted stakeholders and hotel brand partners really appealed. Having helped position Cycas’s first hotel as an attractive business model, I started running our development and acquisition department in 2014.
Why expand your team now? Having run the department on my own for several years, 18 months ago I hired our first team member. Now, given our ambitious European expansion plans, it’s vital I’m supported by a strong team that can help Cycas capitalise on the incredible growth opportunities across key markets such as Benelux, France and Germany. With five people from six different countries, and 9 languages spoken between us, I’m confident that my team’s expertise and skillsets will put us in a very versatile position and enable us to deliver deals across borders and in multiple jurisdictions.
What industry trends excite you most? Of the 14 hotels we’ll have open by this summer, six are in dual-branded properties (Amsterdam, London and Manchester). With two more (Paris and Slough) under construction, we’re the leading white-label hotel operator in this fast-growing area. Given the shortage of land suitable for hotel development, the “double-decker” concept allows us to pair an aparthotel with a full or limited service property on one site and capture a wider market share at different price points. The benefits are huge – not only does having two distinct types of hotel reduce risk for investors and developers, but shared staff and back-of-house facilities create space and operational efficiencies, along with construction savings. And, from a traveller perspective, this added choice – coupled with Cycas’s exceptional customer service – really does ensure our guests can have the best of both worlds.
Where’s Cycas next focus? This January we opened or first property in mainland Europe (Amsterdam), so our ambitions to become a pan-European hotel management company are on target. We’ve also recently signed our first two hotels in France; Hyatt’s first dual-branded property in Europe (Hyatt Place and Hyatt House) and the first extended-stay hotel around Charles de Gaulle airport, which are already under construction. Whilst we are already talking to developers and brands about European opportunities, our next big ambition is to take Cycas into Germany, where we see potential to more than double Cycas’s existing portfolio over the next four years and add at least 3,500 rooms to our portfolio.
The Fun Five
What’s your proudest Cycas moment? Signing our first European hotels (a dual-branded Residence Inn and Moxy property in Amsterdam’s creative Houthavens district).
What’s your motto in life? Carpe Diem! I watched Dead Poets Society when I was 12 and since then I’ve been inspired to “seize the day” and live my life to its full potential every single moment. I even have a tattoo to remind me.
Where would we find you at the weekend? On my Harley Davidson, cruising through country roads.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? I always dreamed of becoming an astronaut. So, rather than being surrounded by Barbie dolls, my childhood bedroom was full of NASA spaceships.
What would the industry be most surprised to discover about you?I’ve lived and managed hotels in four continents, five countries and ten cities – and I’m fluent in three languages (English, French and Turkish).