Global hospitality expert joins Northern Xplorer team


Oslo-based zero-emission cruise company Northern Xplorer (NX) has recruited travel industry innovator Ivaylo Lefterov (pictured) as Executive Advisor, Hotel Brand Implementation, amid burgeoning demand for experiential, environmentally conscious travel both on land and at sea.

With over 20 years of experience in luxury hotel development and management, Lefterov’s speciality is bridging the gap between new travel destinations and the brands that will make them fly. His experience covers the planning and establishment of small boutique hotels and large-scale resorts in collaboration with luxury brands such as Rosewood Hotels, Nobu Hotels and Six Senses in locations as diverse as Norway, Iceland, Bulgaria, Italy and Texas.

“We’re thrilled to welcome such a valuable resource within hotel operations and development of hospitality offerings onboard our vessels,” said NX CEO Rolf A Sandvik. “We really look forward to leveraging Ivaylo’s expertise and insight in developing new business models and premium hospitality products from initial concept to daily operations. His strong focus on immersive guest experiences, service empathy and operational sustainability matches our own vision and he’s a great addition to our team.”

Lefterov commented: “I am passionate about pushing the boundaries in the travel industry and am convinced NX will provide a pioneering cruising blueprint for independent-minded travellers combining energy efficiency, minimal impact on the environment and superb hospitality,” said Lefterov. “It’s all about delivering a truly memorable journey rooted in great design, quality of service and value for money.”

NX last year signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) with Portuguese shipbuilder West Sea for the construction of its maiden 300-passenger vessel with delivery slated for the start of the 2026/2027 cruise season. The ground-breaking ship will feature fully electric propulsion, including energy storage and hydrogen fuel-cell systems, that will enable to it to sail emissions-free to hand-picked destinations in the Norwegian fjords and further afield as the green shift takes root.

Based in Lisbon, Lefterov is a US and UK-trained architect and expert in property planning and development, both on the client side and as principal of his own international resort development and management company. Together with partners Svart, SharpEnd and Solice Health, he is currently masterminding a new customised concept (‘Svart Touch’) that aims to redefine luxury health and wellness hospitality.