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Duncan Palmer leaves the Langham, London as MD

20 November 2015 by
Duncan Palmer leaves the Langham, London as MD

Duncan Palmer is to step down today as managing director of the five-AA-star, 380-bedroom Langham, London, and regional vice-president, Europe, of parent company Langham Hospitality Group (LHG).

Having spent 11 years with LHG, he will be replaced in the managing director role by Bob van den Oord following a hand-over period of nearly two weeks.

Palmer told The Caterer that he felt now was the right time to leave, with the hotel having nearly completed a refurbishment, costing "tens of millions of pounds". The final element of the work, involving the decoration of 65 bedrooms and 45 suites, will be finished by April 2016.

Palmer said he will initially spend some time at home with his young family and travelling before returning to look for a new role with "another iconic hotel", next year.

"I have vast experience in repositioning and refurbishing properties and I hope that will stand me in good stead for the future," he said. "I'm happy to say that I am leaving the hotel today in extremely good shape."

"I think I have eight to 10 years to give to another big general manager role, preferably in London, before retirement."

Palmer said that LHG had grown enormously since he joined the company in 2004, expanding from six hotels to 22 today. "The group is expected to grow to 50 properties in the next two to three years," he added.

Having initially spent five years at the Langham, London as managing director upon joining the company, Palmer spent four years as managing director of the Langham, Hong Kong, from 2009 to 2013, added the role of regional director of operations for Indonesia to his responsibilities in his final year. He returned to London in his current role two years ago.

Earlier in his career, Palmer held the position of general manager at both the Savoy, from 1995 to 1998, and the Connaught from 1998-2002. His considerable overseas experience has included stints with Mandarin Oriental in Macau, Manila, Bangkok and Jakarta, and with the Sukhothai in Bangkok.

Van den Oord's arrival in London marks the second time that he has followed in Palmer's footsteps, having replaced him two years ago as managing director of the Langham, Hong Kong. He has more than 20 years' experience in the hospitality industry and has been with LHG for 16 years, having previously occupied the role of vice president - brands at Langham Hospitality Group.

Under van den Oord's leadership, the Langham, Hong Kong was recently named a five-star hotel by Forbes' Travel Guide after an extensive, multi-million dollar refurbishment programme, and the signature Chinese restaurant T'ang Court attained three Michelin stars in November 2015.

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