Founder, Chairman, Smart Hospitality Solutions, Chairman of Advisory Board, World Tourism Forum Lucerne A global hotelier with 40+ years’ experience Reto Wittwer is an undisputable and preeminent leader in luxury hospitality industry. Before founding Smart Hospitality Solutions, Reto Wittwer was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Kempinski hotel group, Europe’s oldest luxury hotel management company, between 1995 and 2014. Wittwer previously held the position of President and C.E.O. of Ciga S.p.A. and prior to that, he was President and CEO of Swissair Nestlé Swissôtel Ltd. Reto Wittwer is a Swiss national and a graduate of Ecolè Hoteliere de Lausanne. He started his hotel career at the Palace Hotel in Madrid. The following six years he worked for Inter- Continental Hotels in Paris, Frankfurt, Geneva and Tehran. In 1976 he was appointed to Director of Food & Beverage of the Mandarin Singapore International. Two years later Wittwer moved to the Peninsula Group in Hong Kong as Resident Manager. In March 1979 Wittwer joined Hyatt International in the capacity of General Manager and worked in Canada, Mexico and Indonesia. In 1982 Wittwer returned to Paris as General Manager of the Le Méridien Montparnasse. During his five years with Swissôtel he was promoted to Senior VP Operations and then appointed President & CEO. In 1992, Wittwer joined CIGA S.p.A. as President & CEO. He is also Chairman of the Advisory Board of World Tourism Forum Lucerne a highly focused strategic body that brings together selected leaders around the world to reflect on the big challenges facing the industry. Wittwer has received many honours for his contribution to the Industry, including the “Freedom of the City of Paris” and the title “Knight of Honour of France”.
Co-Founder, Vice Chairman Smart Hospitality Solutions Ulrich Eckhardt is a seasoned hotelier with a career that has extended over 50 years in the hospitality industry. During these years, he has been a true citizen of the world – active in five continents working and establishing many premium luxury brands worldwide. Before founding SHS, he was the President of Middle East, Africa and Indian Ocean with Kempinski Hotels having joined the company in 1995 as Senior Vice President Latin America & Caribbean. He spearheaded Kempinski group’s impressive expansion in the Middle East and Africa, which allowed the group’s portfolio to evolve from a “one hotel” presence when it opened its first hotel in Ajman in 1998 to a regional presence that spanned India, the Middle East, and Africa. Simultaneously he orchestrated successfully Kempinski’s re-entry into the Americas, starting off in the Caribbean including Cuba, Panama and some of the Leeward Islands of that region. A German national and a graduate of Heidelberg Hotel School, Ulrich Eckhardt speaks five languages. His hospitality career began in Germany and extended out through Europe when he joined Intercontinental Hotels during the 60’s. After nearly 10 years, in the early 70’s, he moved to join ITT Sheraton (today Starwood Hotels) in the Caribbean, South America and North America when he advanced to Senior Vice President and Director of Operations for Sheraton Hotels in Latin America. A highly successful stint ensued for over 23 years before he was actively head hunted by Kempinski group. Since his retirement from Kempinski in May 2015, he has been a Hospitality Advisor to companies like Solidere International and Meydan Group LLC.