Source: Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces
· Raymond Bickson named 2007 Corporate Hotelier of the World · Click Here to Download Image In its November cover story, HOTELS magazine notes Bickson is "a model of luxury hotel keeping" and celebrates his "attention to personal service and global experience" and "years of honing his leadership with dignity and grace."
Editor-in-chief Jeff Weinstein profiles Bickson, who grew up as a surfer in Honolulu in the 1970s when Hawaii tourism was booming and was inspired by hotel legends and founders of Regent International, Georg Rafael, Bob Burns and Adrian Zecha, to pursue a career in hospitality. "He remains true to what he learned in the surf and from his mentors: be patient, be genuine, ... and be there for your guests and your staff."
Bickson, whose hospitality career spans more than 30 years and four continents, joined Taj Hotels in January 2003 to oversee all luxury property operations. In July 2003, he was named managing director and chief executive officer of The Indian Hotels Company Limited, a division of India''s Tata Group, with responsibility for all Taj Hotels management and operations of its hospitality and travel subsidiary companies.
Under his leadership, the Taj Group has seen rapid global expansion, with new developments and acquisitions in key world markets, including Africa, Australia, Bhutan, Dubai, India, Maldives, Malaysia and the U.S., and has plans to add 8,000 additional rooms in 54 new hotels within the next 36 to 48 months. The company''s gateway city strategy includes expanded reach within India, the Indian Ocean rim, South East Asia and the Middle East, with robust plans in all segments, from luxury, five-star, and four-star premium to three-star and budget.
Taj U.S. properties include the brand''s U.S. flagship, the iconic 200-room Pierre on New York''s Central Park, acquired in 2005 and slated for $100 million in enhancements in a second phase of renovations that begin in January 2008. The U.S. luxury division also includes the 273-room Taj Boston, at Arlington and Newbury streets overlooking the Public Garden, purchased in January 2006 for $170 million, and the European-style 110-room Campton Place, a Taj Hotel, on San Francisco''s Union Square, acquired in April 2006 for $58 million.
With Bickson at the helm, the Taj Group has also formed strategic partnerships with other luxury hotel chains and cruise lines; developed innovative new products, including India''s first luxury safari lodges and tours, and steadily increased revenues, with FY2006 profits estimated at 40% more than 2005.
Previously, Bickson spent 15 years as vice president and general manager of The Mark in New York for The Rafael Group Hoteliers Monaco and with Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. His prior experience includes management positions with Regent International Hotels in New York, Chicago, Dallas, Puerto Rico, Melbourne and Shanghai, and training positions with Hotel Plaza Athenee Paris, Le Montreux Palace Switzerland and the Kahala Hilton Hawaii.
An American national, Bickson attended the Ecole Hoteliere Lausanne and advanced management program at Harvard Business School, and was awarded an honorary doctorate in hospitality management by Johnson & Wales University, Rhode Island. He is a member of the World Travel & Tourism Council; the International Business Leaders Forum; and the advisory boards of The Leading Hotels of the World, Cornell Hotel School Center for Hospitality Research and Ecole Hoteliere Lausanne.