Women hotel owners who are making waves in the industry


Jongeneel's gastrofarm Op Oost offers unique food-centric experiences. — Photos: SLH

Only three women made it on Yahoo! Finance’s list of “15 richest hotel owners in the world” (published June 2023), and all three are from the same family – the Pritzkers.

The Pritzker family owns Hyatt Hotels Corporation, and in total, six members are on the said list. Karen Pritzker, 66, is the “richest”, with an estimated net worth of US$6.2bil (RM29.26bil).

There are only a few hotel owners in the world who are women as compared to men, and even fewer who make billions of dollars from the business. But there are a handful of women who are making waves in the industry, either as owners, CEOs or general managers.

Small Luxury Hotels of the World has its own list of women hotel owners who have created unique independent properties around the world. Here are eight of them.

Samornpun Somnam

Owner of Keemala in Phuket, Thailand

Samornpun is a fourth generation “Phuketian”, so it is no surprise that her boutique resort, Keemala, focuses on local cultures and traditions. She wants to show guests everything Phuket has to offer, beyond the beaches and kitschy tourist attractions, via authentic local experiences.

Keemala owner Samornpun wants guests to experience Phuket beyond the beaches and islands. Keemala owner Samornpun wants guests to experience Phuket beyond the beaches and islands.


Angela O’Connell

Owner of Chalets At Blackheath in New South Wales, Australia

O’Connell doubles as the general manager of this Australian property. Chalets At Blackheath has a sustainable yet luxurious design, using mostly recycled materials throughout the chalets.

Chalets At Blackheath owner O'Connell is also its general manager.Chalets At Blackheath owner O'Connell is also its general manager.


Geraldine Frater Wyeth

Owner of Le Mas Barossa in South Australia, Australia

Frater Wyeth has spent most of her life between France and Australia, and wanted Le Mas Barossa to reflect a Provencal way of life, but with an Aussie twist.

Frater Wyeth grew up in France and Australia.Frater Wyeth grew up in France and Australia.


Denise Omurca

Owner of Lost Lindenberg in Bali, Indonesia

Omurca is both the owner and managing director of Lost Lindenberg in Indonesia’s popular island of Bali. The property with treehouse-style rooms is surrounded by nature and truly highlights the Balinese way of life.

Omurca's Lost Lindenberg caters to travellers seeking authentic Balinese experiences.Omurca's Lost Lindenberg caters to travellers seeking authentic Balinese experiences.


Teresa Unterthiner

Owner of Forestis Dolomites in Brixen, Italy

Together with Italian hoteliers, the Hinteregger family, Unterthiner transformed an Austro-Hungarian tuberculosis sanatorium into a sustainable, luxury hideaway. Forestis Dolomites runs on 100% renewable energy and operates on a zero-waste ethos.

Unterthiner worked with a well-known hotelier family to create Forestis Dolomites.Unterthiner worked with a well-known hotelier family to create Forestis Dolomites.


Valerie Jongeneel

Owner of Op Oost in Oosterend, the Netherlands

Jongeneel offers guests a luxurious experience in her Dutch gastrofarm, where the sounds of the Wadden Sea can be heard throughout the property. The eco-conscious Op Oost features experiences like private oyster picking tours and foraging sessions.


Aristide opened the Aristide Hotel with her sister.Aristide opened the Aristide Hotel with her sister.

Oana Aristide

Owner of Aristide Hotel in Syros, Greece

Aristide and her sister Jasmin opened the eco-art property Aristide on the island of Syros, after writing her novel, Under The Blue. The plastic-free property is housed within a beautifully restored neoclassical mansion, and holds regular art exhibitions.


Khin Win Omar

Owner of Gangtey Lodge, Bhutan

Gangtey Lodge is a well-known property in Bhutan that focuses on sustainability and conscious living. The 12-suite lodge has dedicated programmes in support of the 17th-century Gangtey Monastery, and works with a handful of wildlife protection and nature conservation groups.

Khin’s Gangtey Lodge focuses on the Bhutanese way of life.Khin’s Gangtey Lodge focuses on the Bhutanese way of life.

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