Interview: Sunset Hospitality Group's Antonio Gonzalez
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Sunset Hospitality Group’s Antonio Gonzalez on the company’s big plans for 2023

Sunset Hospitality Group’s Antonio Gonzalez on the company’s big plans for 2023

The chairman and CEO of Sunset Hospitality Group shares how SHG is planning to reach a total of 60 venues locally and internationally within the next 12 months

Neesha Salian
Antonio Gonzalez - Chairman and CEO Sunset Hospitality Group

As you look back on 2022, tell us about the company’s biggest achievements and challenges.

Without a doubt, 2022 has been a great year for Sunset Hospitality Group (SHG), especially as we celebrated our 10th anniversary of operations in Dubai. We’re extremely proud of this achievement, as it enables us to look back at how far we’ve come since opening our first venue. Expanding into nine different markets with more than 40 outlets is something we never could have imagined possible all those years ago.

Moreover, SHG recently achieved a great milestone, welcoming $35m funding from Goldman Sachs Asset Management – the firm’s first investment in a hospitality business within the Middle East. This opportunity is something we’re extremely grateful for and will strengthen our capacity to deliver on our ambitious expansion plans, including the opening of METT Hotel & Beach Resort in Marbella, and many more.

It has also been a challenging year, we have more than doubled the size of our business, and we had to establish new systems and procedures to manage that growth. We have also onboarded hundreds of new talents who have enriched the Sunset team and helped us achieve this success.

Read: Dubai’s Sunset Hospitality Group to expand to 14 countries in 2022

How will the investment from Goldman Sachs Asset Management aid Sunset Hospitality Group’s expansion plans?

This investment is a massive achievement for the organisation, since it not only provides funding, but also validates our performance and potential. Being Goldman Sachs’ first investment of this kind within the Middle East is a tremendous demonstration of trust in our abilities and it’ll aid our very ambitious expansion plans.

Our plan is to open an additional 60 venues across the globe next year and these will be announced in the coming months. The significance of this collaboration directly aligns with our strategic growth plan to ensure our offering becomes top of mind for every consumer across the region that is looking to experience something unique and unmissable.

Tell us about your journey as an entrepreneur. Any key learnings that you would like to share?

It has been a fantastic journey, with ups and downs, lots of challenges but also lots of great times. I have been blessed with having great partners that believed in my vision for the company, and most important an amazing team that works tirelessly to make a difference every day. I am very grateful for what we have achieved till today, but even more excited about the future and all the great things we will do.

What are Sunset Hospitality Group’s plans for 2023?

When SHG first launched in 2011 it was with the aim of changing the hospitality industry for the better, with a fresh and dynamic approach. While I certainly think we’ve done this with our projects, this year, we will focus even more heavily on improving our current positioning of creating unique hospitality experiences.

In 2023, we aim to create unforgettable experiences and are excited about the challenge. We can’t wait for you all to see what we have in store.

What trends do you foresee in the hospitality industry this year both locally and internationally?

Sustainability plays a key part in hospitality both locally and internationally and is becoming more prominent than ever. I definitely foresee this trend growing even further. It’s something we at SHG take great pride in being a part of. For example, our venue Drift has solar panelled roofing, which reduces its carbon footprint. We also have a contract in place with Neutral Fuels to collect waste kitchen oils and convert them into biofuel.

Additionally, health and wellness has seen a major surge in the past couple of years due to the Covid-19 pandemic – not just in this region, but also from a global standpoint. People are more conscious of committing to a healthier lifestyle through the consumption of fresh, nutritious ingredients. Sunset Hospitality Group prides itself on serving the best quality produce across all our venues to ensure the consumer receives an experience of value.

What would you say are the key differentiators between the local and internationally hospitality market?

There are fewer differentiators as we merge into the global economy and landscape. Trends are now global, not local, and it’s increasingly easier to take business international.

The local market has seen a fast evolution in the last few years, fast tracking to become a global powerhouse, and one of the most fascinating and competitive destinations in the world.

The leadership in the region has played a key role to facilitate this evolution with regulation and policies that facilitate entrepreneurship and investment. It is a great time to be in this part of the world, and we are very proud to export our know-how and experiences around the world.

Read:  Dubai’s Sunset Hospitality Group launches Azure Beach and Attiko in Vietnam

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