Kurt Ritter (b. 1947) is the former Chief Executive Officer of the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, and during his tenure was one of the longest-serving CEOs in the worldwide hotel industry.
Kurt was born into a family of hoteliers who owned the Hotel Beausite in Interlaken, and was involved in its running from a young age. On finishing school, he trained at the École Supérieure de Commerce du Canton de Vaud and the prestigious hotel school in Lausanne, where he graduated in 1970. He began his career as Assistant Manager at the Hotel Bellevue Palace in Bern, later working for Ramada Hotels in Belgium, Germany, France, the UK and Sweden. In 1976, he took over as General Manager of the Rezidor Group-owned SAS Luleaa hotel in Sweden (as the youngest general manager in the entire Ramada chain), and was later General Manager of the SAS Kuwait hotel in the Middle East. In 1984, he was made Area Vice President for the Middle East, and in 1988 became the new vice president and COO of SAS International Hotels.
In 1994, Kurt led Rezidor in signing the first Master Franchise Agreement with Carlson for operation and development of the Radisson brand in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In 2002, the second Master Franchise Agreement followed for the Park Inn, Country Inn and Regent brands in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
When SAS sold the hotel business in 2006 and Rezidor went public, Kurt became the largest shareholder and is today the majority shareholder. Under his leadership, the company grew from 29 hotels in 1994 to more than 430 in 2013, the year in which Kurt retired following more than 35 years at Rezidor. He continues to serve the business as a Strategic Advisor.
Kurt was named Corporate Hotelier of the World in 2002. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Hospitality Investment Forum (2004) the International Hotels investment Conference (2005) and the prestigious MKG Group (2008).
Kurt was honoured by the British Travel & Hospitality Hall of Fame in 2012.