Kerten Hospitality on taking change seriously

Marloes Knippenberg

One of the most interesting speakers and a mainstay of hospitality conferences around the region, Marloes Knippenberg, CEO, Kerten Hospitality, is often seen as a disruptor to the traditional hospitality model with her ‘mixed-use, ESG and lifestyle’ brands.

“The world around us is changing rapidly. Owners are getting more savvy, better educated and well experienced. Information is easily available at everyone’s fingertips. Travel agencies are losing clumps of business to the online marketplace. There is so much going on and with every challenge comes opportunity,” Marloes Knippenberg, CEO, Kerten Hospitality, says.

“We saw these change some seven years ago and took them seriously. The reason we started was not to disrupt; we’ve never disrupted. We observed the changes quite early on and took the expectation of change seriously. We didn’t think change was not there to stay. We believed in it.”

Last month, Kerten Hospitality launched their first female-led, purpose-driven Global Gelato Brand called Nakhati with its first store in Riyadh, in partnership with Saudi Foodpreneur Eman Fallatah. In addition to offering gelato, it will also provide a platform for young designers to exhibit their work through a residency programme. Every part of the guest experience will have its own story, from the gelato to the chinaware to the design.


“The reason we started was not to disrupt; we’ve never disrupted. We saw changes quite early on and took the expectation of change seriously”
– Marloes Knippenberg



The key objective for the brand’s footprint growth is to cascade the key entrepreneurial objectives and support for the local communities across its franchisees globally and plans to support the establishment of 200 outlets by 2024.

With more than 40 projects in development across 12 lifestyle-driven concepts on three continents, the brand has a strong commitment to ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) and responsible community-based business practices.

Kerten Hospitality is a mixed-use, ESG and lifestyle operator managing and operating hotels, branded residences, serviced apartments, workspaces and business hubs and clubs under its 100 per cent own and developed brands. Kerten Hospitality transforms destinations through impactful collaborations both with its own and other branded food and beverage, retail, entertainment, art and wellness brands with a focus on building ecosystems, and unique community-centric destinations, that connect international and local travellers.

“We’ve never really had a CSR plan; we really looked at the bigger picture. We connected with locality. We organically started connecting with people, ministries, governments, with other shareholders and stakeholders, with suppliers, and to see how we could build that out.

“If the big guys focus on the big stuff and the smaller companies focus on the smaller things, then with the butterfly effect, you make a global impact,” says Knippenberg.

Over the summer, Kerten Hospitality has rolled out its ESG initiative called UBBU: United. Building a Better Universe, across all its properties.

The brand manages a portfolio of 12 brands including: Cloud7 Hotel and Residence, The House Hotel and Residence, Ouspace – a collaborative Social Hub and serviced offices concept. The current pipeline includes 40+ projects and 4,500+ room keys in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa and the CIS countries.