Duncan Palmer, former managing director of the five-AA-star, 380-bedroom Langham, London hotel, has taken up a position in Hong Kong to open a new luxury property for Marco Polo Hotels.
It marks a return to Hong Kong for Palmer who spent four years as managing director of the territory's Langham hotel, from 2009 to 2013. He then moved to London, where he was also regional vice-president, Europe of parent company Langham Hospitality Group (LHG).
In his new role, Palmer will oversee the conversion of the Murray Building - originally built as the tallest government building in Hong Kong in 1969 - into a hotel with 336 bedrooms and extensive food and beverage facilities. The hotel is due to open in October 2017.
The 27-storey Murray Building was acquired by Wharf (Holdings), the owner of Marco Polo Hotels, through its subsidiary Harbour Centre Development in 2013. A total investment of HK$7b (£685m) is expected to be spent on the transformation of the property.
Palmer, who left the Langham, London in November 2015, after 11 years with LHG, said that he spent six months with his young family travelling in Europe and Asia before accepting his new positon.
He described the new hotel as a "stunning" property which is being designed by the architect Lord Foster. "I am excited to open this Iconic landmark building," he said. "I enjoy a challenge and this hotel project is indeed along the lines of what I did at the Langham in positioning the hotel here on Hong Kong island."
At the Langham, London, Palmer headed a refurbishment costing "tens of millions of pounds", including the creation of the six-bedroom 450sqm Sterling Suite.
He went on to say that he thought his timing on leaving the UK following Brexit decision and a possible downturn in the economy was "good".
Dr Jennifer Cronin, president of Marco Polo Hotels, described Palmer as "an inspiring hotelier" who has built a formidable career on the foundations of the world's leading hotels, including the Savoy in London and Mandarin Oriental in Macau, Manila, Bangkok and Jakarta.
"We are confident that he will launch and establish the Murray building as an iconic landmark hotel that will redefine the city's luxury hotel landscape."
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