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John Donaldson announces retirement after 45 years in hotel industry

Arora Group’s Executive Director, John Donaldson, has announced his retirement after 15 years with the group. A fellow of the Institute of Hospitality, on which he served as a Director and Trustee for 6 years and a fellow of the Chartered Management Institute, John has been an active devotee to the industry, as a distinguished hotelier with over 45 years in hospitality.

The announcement comes shortly after the opening of Arora’s largest and most prestigious hotel development to date, InterContinental London – The O2 which enjoyed its official opening ceremony this month.  

John began his career with Arora in 2001, launching the 312-bedroom Arora Hotel Gatwick/Crawley as General Manager and managing its 120 bedroom extension in 2004.  His subsequent role as Group Operations Director included the integration, re-branding and opening of the Sofitel London Gatwick in 2005 before his transition to Group Sales and Marketing Director as Arora Hotels - a division of the Arora Group - looked to further expand.   

John was then appointed Arora Group’s Executive Director in 2007 and subsequently had direct responsibility for opening Sofitel London Heathrow at Terminal 5, a significant milestone within the group’s development. During this period he was awarded Business Person of the Year at the 2010 Gatwick Diamond Business Awards and was conferred as Master of the University (Hon MSc) from the University of West London - formerly Ealing Hotel School - from which he graduated in 1971. John then went on to oversee PR and communications for the group as well as undertaking special development projects with Founder and Chairman Surinder Arora.  

Following John’s decision to retire, Surinder has appointed John to the Arora Group Advisory Board. He will also continue in his role as Non-Executive Director of the Gatwick Diamond Initiative, reflecting Arora’s considerable ongoing business interests in the area.  

Surinder Arora commented, “John is a highly respected professional among his colleagues, stakeholders and our partners and has played a key role in the company’s transformation. In addition to leading some of our most significant hotel openings, including Sofitel London Heathrow, John has established dynamic teams and partnerships during his tenure that have been fundamental to our success, and I wish him a long, healthy and very happy retirement.”  

John commented, “I am exceptionally proud of all that the Arora Group has accomplished while I have been part of the team, not least in the hotel division which has experienced exceptional growth with some incredible hotels. Working with Surinder and his team has been an absolute privilege and a pleasure and I am delighted to remain engaged in the Arora business in my advisory role. These are exciting times at Arora with a number of key hotel openings in the pipeline and I wish them every success for the future.”  

Prior to joining Arora, John held various senior operational positions with Forte Hotels at The Waldorf London and The Ritz Madrid, culminating in the role of Worldwide Director of Revenue Management.  

With an internationally recognised portfolio of hotels, Arora Hotels comprises some of the UK’s finest large-scale business and leisure hotels, including Sofitel London Heathrow, Renaissance London Heathrow Hotel, Sofitel London Gatwick and London’s largest new luxury event venue, InterContinental London – The O2.  Also operated by Arora Hotels is the Arora Hotel Gatwick/Crawley, Holiday Inn London Heathrow, Arora Hotel Manchester, Hilton Stanstead Airport and Savill Court Hotel & Spa near Windsor.

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