Geoffrey Gelardi, London's longest serving managing director of a luxury property, is to step down after nearly 28 years running the Lanesborough hotel.
The departure of Gelardi from the five-red-AA-star, 93-bedroom hotel will take place nearly three years after the hotel reopened following a £60m, 19-month refurbishment. He arrived at the Lanesborough a year before the former St George's Hospital was launched as a luxury hotel in 1991.
He said that he will leave the hotel overlooking Hyde Park Corner in July, or earlier if a replacement is appointed before then, once he has "handed over the reins".
Gelardi told The Caterer that he had not yet decided on his next move, but he said there were "lots of options" and he would look at the possibility of a future role in the UK or overseas.
Originally from Johannesburg in South Africa, Gelardi is a third-generation hotelier who has spent more than 40 years in the industry. His grandfather, Commendatore Giulio Gelardi, simultaneously held the position of general manager of Claridge's in London and the Waldorf Astoria Towers in New York, when the latter hotel opened in 1931. His father, Albert Gelardi, was president of Trust House Forte North America.
Having himself started in hospitality as a trainee at the Waldorf Astoria, Gelardi went on to enjoy a 25-year career in the US which included stints as managing director at the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles and the Sorrento hotel in Seattle.
When he arrived in London in 1990 to oversee the opening of the Lanesborough the following year, Gelardi initially intended to stay for just three years.
When asked at the time of the reopening of the hotel two and a half years ago why he had remained so long, he said: "I love it and it is my home away from home. I believe the new design has longevity, and I hope the hotel will remain in this guise for the next 24 years. I don't expect to still be here after that time, but intend to still be here for another 10 years or so."
So why the change of heart? "I came to the conclusion that following the successful reopening of the hotel and the more recent launch of the spa, it was time to look at something else. I leave behind the success of the hotel as my legacy."
The Lanesborough is owned by the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and since its relaunch in 2015 has been managed by the German-based Oetker Collection.
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