People on the move: SH Hotels, Choice, PPHE

Starwood Capital Group promoted Arash Azarbarzin to chief executive officer of its subsidiary company, SH Hotels & Resorts. In the CEO role, Azarbarzin succeeds Barry Sternlicht, Starwood Capital chairman and CEO of SH Hotels & Resorts. Sternlicht will remain chairman and continue to be involved with the organization.

“Over the last year, the industry has experienced tremendous upheaval and [Azarbarzin] has shown steady leadership and helped position us for a bright future,” Sternlicht said. “I am confident that under his leadership, we will continue to see significant increases in guest satisfaction, build excellence in SH Hotels & Resorts, as well as true advocacy for our overall mission of sustainability in everything we do.”

Azarbarzin has more than 30 years of industry experience, including in leadership roles at St. Regis Hotels, W Hotels, Four Seasons Hotels and as founding member at Sbe hotel group. In his three years as president of SH Hotels & Resorts, Azarbarzin’s strategic vision, leadership and operational skills supported SH portfolio’s growth. He spearheaded the openings of 1 Hotel West Hollywood in West Hollywood, California, 1 Hotel Haitang Bay in Sanya, China, and launched Treehouse Hotels. Azarbarzin also made headway in reducing overall climate impact for the entire organization, including establishing real-time energy monitoring, decreasing resource use and obtaining certification as a Carbon Neutral Organization while giving back to local and global communities.

From left, clockwise: Arash Azarbarzin (SH Hotels & Resorts), Odette Brown (Choice Hotels International), Marco Roca, Jr. (Aimbridge Hospitality) and Melissa Mitchell (Mainsail Corporate Housing)
From left, clockwise: Arash Azarbarzin (SH Hotels & Resorts), Odette Brown (Choice Hotels International), Marco Roca, Jr. (Aimbridge Hospitality) and Melissa Mitchell (Mainsail Corporate Housing)

Naples Grande Beach Resort in Naples, Florida, appointed Elias Assaly area vice president and general manager, overseeing the resort’s daily operations, as well as creating new opportunities on both local and national levels. He will also support Naples Grande Golf Club, the Cheeca Lodge & Spa in Islamorada, Florida, and Tranquility Bay Beachfront Resort in Marathon, Florida. Assaly has more than three decades of industry experience, including senior leadership roles as vice president of operations for both Rosewood Hotels & Resorts and Radisson Hotel Group.

Choice Hotels International announced three regional vice president appointments. Odette Brown was promoted to regional vice president (RVP) of franchise services, overseeing the mid-Southern U.S. region. Brown joined the company in 2014 as an area director and was elevated to regional area director in 2018. Prior to that, she spent nearly a decade as an area general manager and general manager for several hotels. Glenn Gordon returned to Choice Hotels as RVP of franchise sales development for the Ascend Hotel Collection brand, leading the growth of the brand’s footprint in the Southeast U.S. and Caribbean. Gordon brings more than 15 years of franchising experience to Choice, including his prior work for the company’s franchise sales development team, as well as roles with Value Place, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, and StayAPT Suites. Gary Mills joined Choice Hotels as RVP of franchise sales development for the Cambria Hotels brand. Mills will lead the growth of the brand’s footprint in Texas and the mid-Central region. Mills has more than 40 years in the industry, recently serving as vice president of real estate at NewcrestImage. Mills has also worked with Hilton Hotels Corporation, assisting with the launch of the Hilton Garden Inn brand, as well as Dream Hotel Group and the Doubletree Hotels Corporation.

PPHE Hotel Group appointed Jon Colley executive vice president of acquisitions and development. He also joins the company’s executive leadership team. Colley has deep experience in banking, real estate and hospitality development, and has held senior leadership positions at Hilton Hotels, Barclays Bank, the Royal Bank of Scotland and, most recently, InterContinental Hotels Group, where he was head of development, United Kingdom and Ireland.

Vision Hospitality Group named Michael DiMaria general manager of Kinley Chattanooga Southside, opening soon in Chattanooga, Tennessee. With a decade of hospitality experience, DiMaria most recently was general manager of Vision Hospitality Group’s TownePlace Suites and Residence Inn by Marriott in Nashville, Tennessee. Before joining Vision Hospitality Group in 2017, he held several roles in the industry. He has received awards including the Marriott Gold Circle Award and Vision Hospitality Group General Manager of the Year.

The American Hotel & Lodging Association named Marilou Halvorsen vice president, government affairs and state relations. In this new role, Halvorsen will enhance the organization’s partnerships with state lodging associations, as well as be involved in state and local government affairs in the Northeast U.S. Based in New Jersey, Halvorsen has served as president and chief executive officer of the NJ Restaurant & Hospitality Association since 2012. Prior to that, she was director of marketing for Jenkinson’s Boardwalk, Point Pleasant Beach & Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, New Jersey.

Hilton Aventura Miami, opening early this spring in Aventura, Florida, named Thaddeus Keefe general manager of food and beverage, and Philip Thompson executive chef. Keefe has worked in Atlanta, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Los Angeles, where he joined Ellis Adams Group as vice president of operations. Most recently he was director of beverage for the Gaylord Rockies, Marriott International, in Aurora, Colorado. Thompson grew his culinary career by working his way through various Hilton hotels in the Washington, D.C. area. Most recently, he was executive chef at the Hilton McLean, Tysons Corner, in McLean, Virginia, where he led and managed teams at multiple dining concepts and onsite culinary projects, including an outdoor chef’s garden and rooftop beekeeping.

Deer Path Inn in Lake Forest, Illinois, appointed Patrick Lacassagne general manager/innkeeper. Lacassagne previously managed another historic property, the Knickerbocker Hotel in Times Square, New York City. Prior to joining The Knickerbocker, he played a key role in renovating the Sofitel Legend Old Cataract in Aswan, Egypt, where he introduced French cuisine to the Middle Eastern-inspired menus.

Belmond appointed Ulisses Marreiros general manager of Copacabana Palace, A Belmond Hotel, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Thomas Moons general manager of La Residencia, A Belmond Hotel, Mallorca, Spain. In 2013, Marreiros became general manager of La Residencia, A Belmond Hotel, Mallorca. He previously worked at a number of hotels and resorts in the Maldives and Portugal before becoming general manager at Reid’s Palace in Funchal, Portugal, in 2010. Moons previously served as general manager of Miraflores Park, A Belmond Hotel, Lima, Peru. He’s also worked at hotels in Belgium, The Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates. Moons joined Belmond as rooms division manager at Governor’s Residence, Yangon, Myanmar, before becoming resident manager at La Residence d’Angkor, Cambodia. In 2015, Moons become general manager of La Residence Phou Vao, Laos, followed by hotel manager at Miraflores Park, Lima, Peru, in 2016. He became the property’s general manager in 2018.

Virtuoso appointed Helen McCabe-Young senior vice president, marketing, and Michael Londregan, who formerly served as the organization’s managing director of Asia-Pacific, senior vice president, global operations. McCabe-Young initially joined the organization in July 2020 as the acting senior vice president of marketing. Before this, she held senior executive positions with Kerzner International, including One&Only Resorts and Atlantis The Palm, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. She has more than 12 years’ experience in the cruise sector, having served as vice president, marketing for Silversea Cruises. Prior to that, she helped build the Princess Cruises brand while with an ad agency. Londregan, who over the past seven years has been responsible for establishing Virtuoso within Australia and New Zealand while also moving the network’s expansion into China, will now focus on further cementing global operations geared toward future growth in the markets where Virtuosos has travel agency members. Londregan has more than 25 years’ experience in executive management positions at companies including Tourism Australia, JTG Qantas Holidays, Air Pacific and Shangri-La Resorts.

Midas Hospitality named Greta McCue director of sales at the Aloft Milwaukee Downtown. In her new role at the Milwaukee hotel, McCue’s responsibilities include pursuing corporate and individual consumer bookings, as well as maintaining ongoing communication with both the property’s team and guests. McCue has worked in numerous sales and managerial capacities in both Wisconsin and Illinois.

Mainsail Corporate Housing named Melissa Mitchell director of sales. Mitchell has 25 years of industry and management experience. During her career with Oakwood, she was promoted from strategic account executive to district sales manager, national account manager and then global accounts director. Most recently, Mitchell was the head of client experience at Garten, a health and wellness company, where she managed a national account team responsible for more than US$50 million in annual revenue.

Avistone named Charlie Muller managing director of its newly formed hotel division, Avistone Hospitality. Muller has nearly 40 years of hospitality experience in operations, acquisitions, development, asset management and dispositions. He has completed more than US$7.5 billion in transactions, including acquiring 75-plus hotels, developing or redeveloping 19 hotels. He has overseen asset management practices for more than 200 hotels and recreational properties. Prior to joining Avistone, Muller held positions including senior vice president of investments with First Hospitality, vice president of development at Omni Hotels & Resorts and executive vice president and chief operating officer for CNL Hotels & Resorts and CNL Lifestyle Properties.

Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club in Dana Point, California, appointed George Munz general manager, Jean-Pierre Dubray executive chef and Pat Rizco director of engineering. Munz most recently spent five years as general manager of The Ritz-Carlton Washington, D.C., during which he repositioned the hotel through a US$12 million, two-year room and facilities renovation project. Prior to his role in D.C., Munz was general manager at The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay, California, and The Ritz-Carlton, Phoenix. Dubray, a French native, has more than four decades of culinary experience, most recently as executive chef at The Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Beach, California. Earlier, Dubray held positions at various Ritz-Carlton hotels, including executive chef at both The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco, and The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage, California. He was executive sous chef at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, California. Rizco has 30 years of experience at Southern California resorts. His previous role was director of engineering at The Resort at Pelican Hill, where he oversaw all maintenance, equipment replacement and renovations on property. Prior to that, Rizco also held director of engineering roles at Paradise Point Resort & Spa in San Diego and The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel.

Aimbridge Hospitality welcomed Marco Roca, Jr. as vice president of development. Roca will support the growth of the company’s luxury and resorts vertical, focused on finding resort opportunities in North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as sourcing opportunities for Aimbridge’s lifestyle branch, Evolution Hospitality, in the Eastern U.S. Roca most recently was co-founder and chief investment officer at Reveille Hospitality. He has previously served as vice president of business development and corporate strategy at Trust Hospitality, among other positions at Horwath HTL in Miami, and J.P. Morgan in New York City.

Charlestowne Hotels appointed Paul Stracey director of operations. Stracey brings more than 35 years of hospitality experience to the role. In his previous position as managing director at Belmond Charleston Place in Charleston, South Carolina, Stracey was responsible for the strategy and operations of the highest revenue producing property in the Belmond portfolio, while managing more than 500 employees. During his tenure at Charleston Place, Stracey was appointed North American managing director of Orient Express (now Belmond). For five years, he oversaw operations and strategy for six additional properties in Belmond’s luxury portfolio, while maintaining a hands-on leadership role at Charleston Place.

The Marriott Dallas Uptown appointed Robbie Tawil the property’s general manager and Juan Pablo Silva executive chef of Good Graces, the hotel’s restaurant. Tawil has more than 35 years of experience with Marriott and the hospitality industry. During his tenure with Marriott, Tawil has served as general manager of the Marriott Conference Center in Norman, Oklahoma; general manager of the Worthington Renaissance in Fort Worth, Texas; director of operations at the Dallas Renaissance; director of food and beverage at the Worthington in Fort Worth; and director of operations at Dallas Marriott Downtown. Silva, a native Peruvian, was executive sous chef at The Ritz-Carlton, Abu Dhabi Grand Canal in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. After three years in Abu Dhabi, he became executive sous chef of The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas, and then executive chef.

David Werly is executive chef for Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, slated to open early this year after a reconceptualization. Werly will oversee the Virgin Hotels concepts, as well as run in-room and banquet dining. He most recently served as the assistant executive chef of food and beverage at Aria and Vdara in Las Vegas. He was also the culinary director for Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas, and executive chef of Le Cirque at Bellagio Resort in Las Vegas, where he was awarded and maintained a Michelin star from 2007 until his departure in 2010. Between stints in Las Vegas, Werly was executive chef at The Setai Miami Beach in Miami Beach, Florida.

Carver Road Hospitality appointed Tony Yousfi chief growth officer, focused on the corporate sales and events division. Yousfi previously served as vice president of sales, services, catering, group dining and weddings at MGM Resorts International. In 2009, he joined Aria Resort & Casino and Vdara Hotel & Spa in Las Vegas to launch the hotel’s opening.