Interstate China JV announces senior management team

SHANGHAI The China joint venture between Interstate Hotels & Resorts and Jin Jiang International Hotels Co. announces its senior management team, led by COO Chris van der Baars.

The venture, called Interstate China Hotels & Resorts Co. Ltd., will launch and expand its independent franchise hotel management model in the world’s largest economic growth market. The Interstate China senior operating team includes van der Baars, Chief Financial Officer David Kasten, Executive Vice President of Hotel Operations Roger Fung and Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing D. C. Becker. All four executives operate out of Interstate China’s Shanghai headquarters.

“China is an incredibly important emerging market, and our new platform will benefit enormously from the depth of international experience and expertise these accomplished executives bring with them,” says Interstate Chairman and CEO Tom Hewitt. “This is a proven global all-star team and represents exactly the kind of professional management China is looking for as it expands rapidly. With a full leadership team in place, we will be able to fully and respectfully integrate and pioneer the third-party management platform in China.”

Van der Baars previously served as vice president of operations and development for of IHR de Mexico, Interstate’s third-party hotel management platform in Mexico.

“His most recent experience in overseeing our resort properties in Mexico and sourcing additional management opportunities in Mexico and Latin America made him a natural choice for this important position,” Hewitt says. “That experience, combined with his strong leadership skills, will give us a competitive edge in identifying and securing management opportunities throughout China.”

Prior to joining Interstate in 2000, van der Baars was president of his own consulting firm, which specialized in maximizing individual and team performance in the hospitality industry for such clients as Hershey, Colonial Williamsburg, Starwood, Dolce International, Kohler Co., Preferred Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and DuPont Co.

Kasten’s 30-year hospitality career includes stints in Dallas, Amsterdam, and Hong Kong, directing as many as 150 reports in hotels and international regions. His experience spans full- and select-service hotels in urban, airport, resort and international locations, where he has been deeply involved in turnaround scenarios, openings, acquisitions and growth modes.

Most recently chief financial officer and regional vice president of finance for two of Marriott International’s international regions, Kasten was based in Hong Kong where he assisted with the integration of Marriott’s acquisition of the Renaissance Hotel Group and participated in the growth of the region to 62 operating units across 15 countries and US$800 million in revenues. He subsequently served as Marriott’s CFO and regional vice president of finance for the Caribbean & Latin America region, which grew to 54 operating units across 27 countries and territories, representing revenues of US$800 million.

“David’s understanding of both domestic and international lodging finance, his operational acumen and his strong communication skills perfectly qualify him for this key position,” Hewitt says.

Fung has 27 years of work experience in China and is believed to be the longest-serving Hong Kong expatriate in the country’s hotel industry. During his distinguished career, he has held positions of increasing responsibility with Hilton, Regent, Radisson, Hyatt, Peninsula, New World, Marriott, Mandarin and New Asia, as well as a number of independent hotels. He has served in a variety of positions at the property through international levels. He has opened six 5-star hotels in China.

“Roger has unmatched hands-on experience, exceptional leadership skills and an impeccable reputation within China’s hotel industry, attributes which complement the skill sets of the rest of the executive team,” Hewitt says.

Becker joined Interstate China from Titan Group of New York LLC, a consulting practice he founded in 2003 that specializes in marketing luxury hotels and resorts in the United States and Caribbean. He began his career with Hilton Hotels Corp., where was the first director of sales and marketing for The Logan Airport Hilton/Boston. He later joined Interstate, culminating in his promotion to regional director of sales and marketing. He also served as chief marketing officer for Flag Luxury Properties and as senior vice president of sales and marketing for Wyndham Hotels & Resorts.

“D. C. brings a full range of hotel marketing experience, from brands to ownership groups, from management companies to consulting,” Hewitt says. “He has unparalleled expertise in transitioning and re-positioning hotels and hotel sales organizations. His strategic vision and hands-on experience will help our hotels gain awareness, market share and profitability.”