Bernhardt to take the helm at Deutsche Hospitality

by | 07 Oct 2020 | Portfolio

Marcus Bernhardt, the new CEO of Deutsche Hospitality

Deutsche Hospitality has announced that Marcus Bernhardt, whose career includes stints at Steigenberger Hotels and Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, will become its next CEO from 1 November 2020.

In the summer, Deutsche Hospitality revealed that current CEO Thomas Wilms had requested that his contract be cancelled from 30 September, with Matthias Heck temporarily heading the company in a dual function as CEO and CFO from this point on. Now, the supervisory board of Steigenberger Hotels has moved to appoint Bernhardt to the role from 1 November onwards.

An impressive track record

Bernhardt joins from Europcar Mobility Group where he most recently oversaw the company’s initial public offering in 2015 in his role as chief commercial officer, before being named managing director in 2017. His tasks included managing global B2B and B2C sales, ecommerce, revenue capacity, global franchise and partnership development and customer support.

This experience will help Bernhardt when he takes the reins at Deutsche Hospitality, a company that was lauded for its innovation and forward-thinking approach under Wilms.

“Marcus Bernhardt brings together all the attributes we need in order to achieve a massive expansion of the presence of Deutsche Hospitality in Germany, in Europe and at strategic locations all over the world during the coming years,” stated André Witschi, chair of the supervisory board of Steigenberger Hotels. “Such a combination of international networking, excellent branch knowledge and many years of top management experience in three industries makes him the ideal candidate to fill the job of CEO.”

Deep experience in the hospitality industry

Before leading Europcar from 2013, Bernhardt trained and held various leadership positions in the hospitality sector.

He started by obtaining a qualification at the Lucerne School of Hotel Management, as well as pursuing further study opportunities in Lausanne, Fontainebleau and Zurich. His hospitality career began at Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, now known as Radisson Hotel Group. Bernhardt quickly progressed to the position of director at Radisson SAS Brussels and later to COO and vice president at Rezidor, before taking on the job of executive vice president at Steigenberger Hotels & Resorts in 2004.

In 2010, he moved to Gulf Air as its executive vice president and chief service officer. He has also sat on the advisory boards of the Lucerne World Tourism Forum and of the Lausanne Hospitality Consulting SA/EHL Group for many years.

“There is virtually no other European hotel group besides Deutsche Hospitality which offers so much potential in conjunction with such a wealth of tradition and innovation,” commented Marcus Bernhardt. “I am looking forward to working with the company’s associates to continue to expand this potential in a robust way and to opening up the next chapter in the development of Deutsche Hospitality together.”


The unique and varied Deutsche Hospitality portfolio includes the Steigenberger Hotels & Resorts, Jaz in the City and IntercityHotels brands. Deutsche Hospitality was acquired by Chinese hotel operator and franchisor Huazhu Group in 2019.