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Gary Ellis, General Manager of the Radisson Blu Bamako, puts plans on hold after tragic violence, to support and foster courage of his team amid turmoil and uncertainty.

Gary first entered the world of hospitality 40 years ago, beginning his career by managing Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris. He entered the hotel industry 15 years later in 1990, eventually managing a variety of hotels across France and Tunisia.

Gary joined the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group 5 years ago as General Manager of the Radisson Blu Bamako in Mali. The hotel was located in a business district, close to embassies. At that time, the hotel had around 70 rooms, with an ambitious plan to more than double in size. Gary was tasked with growing and developing the hotel to open an additional 120 rooms. But social and political upheaval would soon present Gary with even greater challenges.

Within his first year, the country experienced two military coups. This sequence of events seriously impacted trade, operations, security, and the planned refurbishment schedule. Gary worked hard to keep his team intact with improved training opportunities even as employees agreed to take pay cuts for a six-month period. Despite these challenges, in 2013 the hotel expansion plan was completed, including the new rooms, a restaurant, a spa and fitness room, and two pool-side restaurants. The improved facilities helped the hotel to win a national hospitality award in Mali in the same year.

Gary’s work was further recognized in 2014. When a new president was elected, the hotel was appointed as official caterer for official and private receptions, both at the president’s palace and his personal residence.

From a commercial perspective, Gary and his team had reason to be proud. Revenues had tripled and the Radisson Blu Bamako was the preferred hotel for the country’s president and ambassadors. From 2011 to 2015, hotel staff’s satisfaction levels increased from 74% to a record 94% (as measured in the annual internal survey). In late November 2015, Gary’s work seemingly done, he was scheduled to accept a new assignment within the hotel group.

On November 20, 2015, the team’s progress would come to a tragic halt.

A terror attack at the hotel left 20 people dead, including three of the hotel staff and two security guards. Gary vowed to stay on. He and the team worked tirelessly with grieving colleagues and families in the face of international media attention.

Against all odds, the Radisson Blu Bamako reopened as promised just 25 days later on the 15th of December.

Gary said: “After the terrorist attack in Bamako, I promised my team, Rezidor, the hotel’s owner and the President of Mali that we would re-open the hotel within a month, which, we did with my exceptional team. What we did together was our response to those who tried to destroy us.”

On the day of the reopening, the President of Mali attended the ceremony and presented Gary with the medal of Officier de l'Ordre National du Mérite du Mali (the highest honorific order conferred by the Malian State).

Before leaving Bamako for his current assignment, Gary presided over the building of a new training center on site with a computer lab, LCD projector, and sound system. All employees were subscribed to online hospitality e-learning courses for the following two years, and a library was put in place with more than 100 books in accounting, human resources, food & drink, kitchen, safety and security, marketing, English language, German language, Italian language, cocktails, bakery & pastry, and more.

Gary was recently appointed General Manager of Nofa Resort Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, by Carlson Rezidor. His main task is to upgrade the resort to Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group Standards. It will have 57 luxury villas, each with its own swimming pool. It will have three restaurants, a pool bar, an afternoon tea lounge, and a hookah shisha lounge. As part of its exclusive offering, the Resort will have a spa, an entertain center with ice skating, bowling, a cinema and indoor pool, fitness center, and 18-hole golf course and equestrian center.

Autre document : M. Gary Ellis CV