KSA’s hospitality of Guenter Gebhard, VP at Four Seasons Riyadh 

KSA’s hospitality of Guenter Gebhard, VP at Four Seasons Riyadh 

Four Seasons Riyadh's Guenter Gebhard, regional VP 1

As massive development continues to characterize KSA, we hear what Guenter Gebhard, Four Seasons Riyadh’s regional VP, has to say about the kingdom’s vibrant hospitality sector and what’s on the horizon. 

How would you describe the current state of the hospitality industry in Saudi Arabia and how has it evolved in recent years?

Saudi Arabia is thriving, especially the hospitality sector, marked by substantial growth and development in recent years. Moreover, government initiatives like Vision 2030 have propelled the sector forward, leading to increased investment and the expansion of hotel chains.

In addition, the emergence of luxury resorts aligns with efforts to diversify the economy and promote tourism, while advancements in infrastructure and accommodations have enhanced the country’s appeal to domestic and international travelers.

Consequently, this contributes to the kingdom’s evolution as a key player in the global hospitality market.

In your opinion, what are the major opportunities and challenges of the Saudi Arabian hospitality sector?

There are significant opportunities for growth in Saudi’s hospitality sector, including infrastructure development, religious tourism and cultural attractions. Additionally, aligned with the kingdom’s investment and diversification objectives, there’s a clear path for expansion in the sector. However, regulations, compliance requirements and the difficulty in attracting skilled workers, among other things, remain obstacles to growth. Furthermore, promoting KSA as a desirable leisure destination adds to the complexity of navigating the industry landscape. Ultimately, managing these challenges is crucial for sustained success in the Saudi hospitality industry.

What are some of the key trends in KSA’s hospitality market?

Some key trends include a focus on experiential travel, emphasizing personalized services and unique guest experiences. Additionally, sustainability is gaining traction, with hotels implementing eco-friendly practices and offering environmentally conscious amenities.

Furthermore, the integration of technology, such as mobile check-in and smart room features, is enhancing convenience and efficiency for guests.

The cultural authenticity is another emerging trend, with hotels incorporating local elements into their design, cuisine and activities, providing an immersive experience reflective of Saudi culture and appeals to travelers seeking authentic experiences. In addition, we are witnessing a greater number of GCC travelers, who are drawn to the kingdom thanks to the abundant entertainment offerings.

What differentiates KSA’s clientele from guests from other parts of the world?

Saudi guests often prioritize privacy, family-friendly amenities and internationally recognized brands and dining experiences, satisfying their desire for quality dining. On the other hand, international guests seek diverse experiences, including leisure activities, entertainment options and accommodations that are aligned with global standards. Additionally, they have certain expectations regarding service quality, language preferences and cultural sensitivities, necessitating a tailored approach. Understanding and catering to these preferences are essential for providing exceptional hospitality experiences to both Saudi and international guests.

Do you have any major announcements that you would like to share with our readers?

This year promises to be an extraordinary culinary journey at Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh, with ongoing renovations. Moreover, the recent addition of the Pierre Hermé Paris boutique in our lobby has enhanced the guest experience. Furthermore, the upcoming opening of The Tonic Bar, managed exclusively by women mixologists, adds to the hotel’s allure. Finally, the eagerly awaited debut of Café Boulud by Michelin-star chef Daniel Boulud in early September promises to deliver a unique dining experience.


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About author

Rita Ghantous

Rita Ghantous is a hospitality aficionado and a passionate writer with over 9 years’ experience in journalism and 5 years experience in the hospitality sector. Her passion for the performance arts and writing, started early. At 10 years old she was praised for her solo performance of the Beatles song “All My Love” accompanied by a guitarist, and was approached by a French talent scout during her school play. However, her love for writing was stronger. Fresh out of school, she became a freelance journalist for Noun Magazine and was awarded the Silver Award Cup for Outstanding Poetry, by The International Library of Poetry (Washington DC). She studied Business Management and earned a Masters degree from Saint Joseph University (USJ), her thesis was published in the Proche-Orient, Études en Management book. She then pursued a career in the hospitality industry but didn’t give up writing, that is why she launched the Four Points by Sheraton Le Verdun Newsletter. Her love for the industry and journalism led her to Hospitality Services - the organizers of the HORECA trade show in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, as well as Salon Du Chocolat, Beirut Cooking Festival, Whisky Live and other regional shows. She is currently the Publications Executive of Hospitality News Middle East, Taste & Flavors and Lebanon Traveler. It is with ultimate devotion for her magazines that she demonstrates her hospitality savoir-faire.

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