As we reflect on the late hotelier’s legacy, following his passing in April, we pay tribute to his remarkable career.
Jochem-Jan Sleiffer was a longstanding member of the Hilton team, having joined the group in 1990. He was appointed president for the Middle East, Africa and Turkey in January 2020.
Sleiffer’s journey with Hilton spanned three decades, during which he held various influential roles. He served as the senior vice president of operations for Continental Europe, overseeing a portfolio of 57 Hilton-managed hotels across 26 countries and territories. Prior to this, he held leadership positions in Belgium, the UK, France and Greece.
As a highly accomplished and experienced leader, Sleiffer played a pivotal role in driving Hilton’s growth in the Middle East. Under his guidance, Hilton maintained its commitment to exceptional hospitality for customers and exceptional returns for owners. He also championed sustainable travel and tourism, shaping the company’s future in the Middle East, Africa and Turkey, as well as establishing market-leading brands, an award-winning culture and a dedicated team.
Simon Vincent, Hilton’s executive vice president and president of Europe, Middle East, and Africa, expressed his deep sadness, saying: “It is with great shock that I share the incredibly sad news of the unexpected passing of our beloved colleague and friend, Jochem-Jan Sleiffer, affectionately known as JJ. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to JJ’s family, whom we are supporting in every way we can.”
Sleiffer’s Hilton journey began over three decades ago, when he joined Hilton Amsterdam as chief steward. Throughout his career, he held multiple positions across Europe, including general manager roles in the UK, France, Greece and Belgium. He eventually transitioned from operations to corporate, ultimately leading Continental Europe before relocating to Dubai and assuming the role of president for the Middle East, Africa and Turkey.
Industry leaders also expressed their condolences. Guy Hutchinson, president and CEO of Rotana Hotel Management Corporation, commented: “Absolutely devastating. He will be sorely missed – such a zest for life and a positive person.”
Haitham Mattar, IHG’s managing director of MEA and South West Asia, stated: “This is very sad news. He will be missed. An amazing and selfless person who loved the industry with all his heart. A dear friend, an ex-colleague and an industry counterpart whom I enjoyed working with. I will miss him immensely. Rest in peace, JJ.”
Duncan O’Rourke, Accor’s CEO of Middle East, Africa, Turkey and Asia-Pacific, added: “There are moments where competition and business seem so distant, irrelevant, and far away. I would like to extend my sincere condolences to the Hilton family on behalf of everybody at Accor, both in my region and beyond. Hospitality has lost a leader, a true hotelier at heart, and someone who always stood firmly for what he believed was right. My thoughts are with JJ’s family and loved ones. He will not only be deeply missed, but his achievements with Hilton over three decades will be remembered as one of the most exemplary careers in the hospitality industry.”
In his honor, Hilton has established a tribute board, people to pay their respects.