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People on the Move: Great Wolf, Westin, WaterWalk

Great Wolf Resorts has appointed 30-year industry veteran John Murphy as the company’s next chief executive officer, taking over for Murray Hennessy, who is retiring but will continue to serve as an advisor to the company.

“I am absolutely thrilled and honored to be following in Murray’s footsteps, leading this incredibly talented and enthusiastic Great Wolf team. It’s abundantly clear that this is a company with a strong culture that truly cares for its people, setting the foundation for everything the team does to support the mission of bringing joy to families,” Murphy said.

“We are grateful to Murray for his hard work over the years, and excited to welcome Murph to the team,” added Rob Harper, Blackstone’s head of Real Estate Asset Management Americas, the private equity firm that maintains a majority ownership stake in Great Wolf Resorts. “His extensive hospitality experience, collaborative approach and ability to develop high-performing teams make him an ideal choice to lead Great Wolf Resorts as we continue to invest in new communities, creating jobs and giving more families the ability to enjoy the Great Wolf experience. With Murray remaining as an advisor, we are confident it will be a seamless transition.”

“We have been honored to work with Murray for the past five years. As CEO, he expanded the Company’s ‘paw print’ with four new resorts across the U.S., which created more than 2,000 jobs and made millions of memories for families,” added Billy Rahm, global head of Real Estate for Centerbridge Partners, the New York-based private equity group that holds the remaining share of Great Wolf Resorts. “In addition, Murray led the company through the particularly challenging years of the pandemic, and helped the company emerge even stronger.”

From left to right: Abby Murtagh (The Broadmoor), Jordan Meehan (Viking Partners), Nicola van Heemsbergen (Hyatt Regency Phnom Penh), and John Murphy (Great Wolf Resorts)

Corporate Management

Hotel Equities, Atlanta, Georgia, has named James Hansen executive vice president. Previously, Hansen served as vice president of sales and marketing at Kolter Hospitality, Delray Beach, Florida.

WaterWalk, Wichita, Kansas, has selected Jim Mrha as chief financial and operating officer and Stephen Armstrong as senior vice president of brand. Mrha joined with more than 35 years of experience with hotel brands including Marriott International, where he served as the chief financial officer of the Western region; MGM Hospitality, where he served as the chief financial officer; and Hilton International, where he served as vice president of finance for the Americas. Armstrong rejoined the WaterWalk team in 2017, overseeing site selection strategy, financial underwriting and data analytics.

Twenty Four Seven Hotels, Newport Beach, California, has welcomed Phil Norman as executive vice president of people resources and development. Most recently, Norman was chief human resources officer with Canyon Ranch, Fort Worth, Texas.

Small Luxury Hotels of the World Ltd. London, England, has welcomed Martin Rinck to the executive board. Most recently, Rinck was the executive vice president and chief brand officer at Hilton.

Virgin Hotels, Miami, Florida, has hired Leslie Shammas as vice president development services. Previously, Shammas served as a development services consultant at Montage International.

Tafer Hotels & Resorts, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, has appointed Enrico Lindenhahn to vice president of operations. Most recently, Lindenhahn was the senior corporate director of brand and concept at Karisma Hotels & Resorts, Miami, Florida.

General Managers and Managing Directors

John Allan has been named managing director of The Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort & Kimpton Shorebreak Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort, Miami, Florida. Most recently, he was general manager of Sole Miami, A Noble House Resort.

Thompson Austin and tommie Austin, Texas, have named Sonja Chase as hotel manager and Jan Shaw as area director of revenue management. Most recently, Chase served as the director of rooms, engineering and spa at Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa, California. Shaw held the director of revenue management position at the W Austin for nearly a decade.

Makeready, Dallas, Texas, has named Jason Delcamp as general manager of The Junto, Columbus, Ohio. Previously, Delcamp served as general manager of Halcyon, a hotel in Cherry Creek, Colorado.

Chatrium Grand Bangkok, Thailand, has appointed Daniel Kerr as its general manager. Most recently, Kerr served as general manager for Indonesia for Starbucks.

Sandro Mazza has joined Kempinski Hotel Amman, Jordan, as general manager. Most recently, he served as general manager of Shangri-La Al Husn Resort & Spa, Muscat, Oman.

The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, Colorado, has named Abby Murtagh vice president and managing director. Most recently, she led the renovation as the general manager of the Arizona Biltmore, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, Phoenix, Arizona.

Luminary Hotel & Co., Fort Myers, Florida, has promoted assistant general manager Robert Nokley to general manager.

Fairmont El San Juan Hotel, San Juan, Costa Rica, has named José Padín as general manager. Padín most recently served as general manager at La Concha Resort, also in San Juan.

Food & Beverage

Crescent Hotels & Resorts, Fairfax, Virginia, has welcomed Robert Carr as the new executive chef of Tapatio Springs Hill Country Resort, a Latitudes: Lifestyles by Crescent property in Boerne, Texas. Carr has over 25 years of experience in the hospitality industry.

Chef Matthew Daughaday has joined 21c Museum Hotel St. Louis, Missouri, as executive chef. Daughaday made a name for himself at Niche Restaurant and Taste by Niche, before leaving to open his own restaurant, Reeds American Table in Maplewood, Missouri.

The Lodge at Blue Sky, Auberge Resorts Collection, Park City, Utah, has chosen Jason Franey as executive chef. Franey most recently worked for Aspen Hospitality Group, Aspen, Colorado, as the culinary director.

Sundara, Bali, Indonesia, has welcomed David Gavin as chef de cuisine. Gavin joins after serving at the Mozaic Ubud, also in Bali.

Nicola van Heemsbergen has joined Hyatt Regency Phnom Penh, Cambodia, as executive chef. Most recently, van Heemsbergen worked at Marineau, Antwerp, Belgium.

Jose De la Puente has been appointed chef de cuisine of Lightkeepers at The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami, Florida. Prior to this position, De la Puente served as executive chef of The St. Regis Bahía Beach Resort in Río Grande, Puerto Rico and as chef de cuisine of Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Dorado, Puerto Rico.

Sales & Marketing

Revival, a JdV by Hyatt Hotel, Baltimore, Maryland, has chosen Maureen Cameron as its new director of sales and marketing. Cameron previously served as community sales director of Brightview Senior Living, also in Baltimore.

Thompson Austin and tommie Austin, Texas, have named Dustin Imbesi area director of sales, marketing and events. Imbesi served in leadership positions throughout the hospitality industry for over 20 years, most recently as vice president of sales and revenue in the hospitality division of Hamister Group, Buffalo, New York.

WaterWalk, Wichita, Kansas, has chosen Augustus Piazza as director of marketing and product and has promoted Katrina Gough to senior director of national sales. Previously, Piazza started his own consulting company in which he worked with WaterWalk. Gough was a national accounts manager for Woodspring Suites, also in Wichita.

Joy Schmidt has joined 21c Museum Hotel St. Louis, Missouri, as director of sales and marketing. During her 20-year career in hospitality, Schmidt has become known for driving innovative sales and marketing strategies that produce dynamic business results.

Fairmont El San Juan Hotel, San Juan, Costa Rica, has named Shannon Vidal-Soto as director of sales. Most recently, Vidal-Soto served as the regional group sales manager for MGM Resorts International’s Northeast and West Coast Regions, Las Vegas, Nevada.

Others

Jordan Meehan has joined Viking Partners, Denver, Colorado, as an acquisitions manager in the firm’s Western U.S. office. Before joining, Meehan served as acquisitions associate at Baceline Group, also in Denver.

Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa, Cayman Islands, has appointed Natasha Anna Pereira as director of event management. Previously, Pereira served as convention services manager at the hotel.

21c Museum Hotels, St. Louis, Missouri, has named Christopher Randall as director of community impact. Previously, Randall served as the community impact manager for 5 On Your Side KSDK-TV, also in St. Louis.

Sun Siyam Resorts, Maldives, has introduced new key management roles as well as a recently developed Creative Department with Sara Siyam as new creative director, Claudia Klingbeil as director of public relations and communications, and Shammun Mohamed as director of digital communications. Siyam previously served as public relations and marketing manager for Siyam World Maldives. Klingbeil’s previous role was consulting director of public relations and marketing for Siyam World. Mohamed has worked as public relations executive and as the cluster public relations manager for Sun Siyam Vilu Reef and Sun Siyam Iru Veli.

WaterWalk, Wichita, Kansas, has welcomed Brian Yocam as director of technology and security. Preceding his appointment, Yocam served as the network manager at INTRUST Bank, Wichita.

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