July Sees a Host of Caribbean Hirings, Appointments

It's safe to say that that July was not a quiet month when it comes to hirings and appointments in the Caribbean. From a new minister of tourism in Antigua and Barbuda to a new general manager at the much-anticipated Condado Vanderbilt Hotel in Puerto Rico, Travel Agent keeps you up to speed with all the hospitality titles that were changed this week. 

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne recently appointed businessman Asot A. Michael as the country's new minister of tourism, economic development investment and energy.


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Michael has served previously in the government sector under former Prime Minister Lester Bird as his Chief of Staff. After that promising start, Michael was appointed a government senator, as well as minister of state, responsible for public works, communications, insurance, energy and St. John’s Development Corporation. He continued in this role until 2001, when he was appointed minister of finance and leader of government business in the senate.

The Michael family immigrated to the Caribbean over a half century ago, escaping the war-ravaged and poverty-ridden Middle East. His grandfather worked to build a better life for his family, making sure that each of his children had the opportunities he did not. Michael’s father and uncles all grew up to be extremely successful and politically active. It was from his father that Michael developed his desire to help the people of Antigua and Barbuda. 

Since coming to office on June 12, the new government has signed a memorandum of understanding with China’s Yida International Investment Antigua for a $2 billion resort development that includes the construction of five-star hotels, a golf course, 1,300 residential units, shopping facilities, a modern conference center and a casino. Visit www.visistantiguabarbuda.com

paul pennicookTravel Agent chatted with Paul Pennicook last week and learned what the seasoned Caribbean travel industry veteran plans to bring to his second run as director of tourism for the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB).

"The main priority has to be that of keeping the destination of Jamaica at the forefront of consumers’ minds," he told Travel Agent. "Keeping the arrival numbers growing, expanding airlift to the destination, refreshing the product, diversifying our markets, all of these are part of that main priority.  It is also a priority to streamline the organization so that we are most effective in what we do."

Speaking of expanding airlift, Pennicook says he will continue the work started by former director of tourism, John Lynch, in securing airlift from Latin America, Asia and other destinations that make a great fit.

"Both Latin America and Asia are target for Jamaica.  We will continue to seek to establish partnerships which will increase airlift to the destination," he says. "As you may be aware, only recently, Jamaica became the first international destination for Southwest Airlines.  A new airline, Fly Jamaica, is also looking to offer service to Latin America. We are prepared to work with both established and newer carriers to expand service to the destination."

The Chairman of the Jamaica Tourist Board, Dennis Morrison, announced earlier this week the appointment of Pennicook, who had previously served in this post from 2003-2006. He also spent several years as a hotelier, serving as president and chief executive officer of Couples Resorts, executive vice president of Sandals Resorts and first vice president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association. Pennicook was also Air Jamaica’s senior vice president of sales and marketing from 2006 to 2008. 

"Having worked in the private sector of tourism (accommodation, marketing), and in the public sector (airlines and as Director of Tourism), I believe all of this has helped to prepare me for the role this time around," he says.

And as far as working with agents goes?

"A significant portion of our visitors still book through travel agents," he told us. "They are integral to the success of the destination. That is why we continue our Jamaica Travel Specialist program where agents have an opportunity to learn about the destination.  We also continue to offer fam trips to ensure agents are up to date on all aspects of Jamaica’s tourism product." Visit www.visitjamaica.com.

After seven-and-a-half years at the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism (DOT)Rosa Harris has moved into its top position as director of tourism. 

Harris has a long history with the department and within the tourism industry of the Cayman Islands.  

“I am very excited to be leading this organization to support and drive economic success for the country, being involved with the Ministry of Tourism’s airport and cruise port redevelopment projects, and shaping the future tourism product by collaborating with tourism partners, new developers and sister government agencies,” she said in a written release.  

The role of director is one that Harris has strived for since obtaining her Bachelor’s Degree from notable Ivy League school Cornell University and her Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from Manchester University. 

While she was the acting director, Harris was the interim chairman of both the Public Transportation Board (PTB) and the Hotel Licensing Board, roles she will continue as director. 

She is also the deputy chairman of the Cayman Islands Hospitality School Council, Tourism Attractions Board and the Cayman Islands Marketing Professionals Association. 

Her DOT career began in 2006 as the national promotions and events manager. During her tenure, she gained considerable experience in key aspects of the Cayman Islands’ tourism industry. In these roles she established marketing plans for the Islands and led tourism product development in addition to other duties.

Some of her notable achievements include five destination promotions that resulted in annual increases in the number of tourists visiting the Islands. Visit www.caymanislands.ky.

International Hospitality Enterprises (IHE) has named Nicholas Gold general manager of the highly-anticipated Condado Vanderbilt Hotel in the Condado District of San Juan

The December 1 opening of the hotel’s second phase will reveal luxury accommodations, a spa sanctuary with Puerto Rico’s first Hammam, two pools and a second restaurant. 

The luxury accommodation were originally slated to open earlier in 2013, but plans stalled when International Hospitality Enterprises’ bank in Puerto Rico closed, José M. Suárez, president of International Hospitality Enterprises, told Travel Agent at the time. 

In October of 2012, the Condado Vanderbilt opened up its signature restaurant, 1919, with hopes of having the rooms ready shortly after. But those plans were stalled until now. 

Built in 1919 by Frederick William Vanderbilt, the Condado Vanderbilt’s lavishness attracted royalty, heads of state, Hollywood stars and industry icons to the hotel’s dramatic perch on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean for almost half a century. It has been shuttered for nearly 20 years.

In his new role, Gold is tasked with managing the property’s opening and overseeing all hotel operations, including staff management, recruitment and development, training, scheduling and preparation of annual budgets, communication with guests and outside vendors, and building community relations.

"It fills me with great pleasure to return to Puerto Rico to join the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel team and ensure the property returns to its status as the social epicenter of San Juan," Gold said in a written release.

A 30-year veteran in the hospitality industry, Gold started his career in his native London as a restaurant manager more than two decades ago before moving on to hotels in Europe, Florida and even Puerto Rico where he worked for Williams Hospitality at Hotel El Conquistador and Condado Plaza Hotel & Casino. 

Since then, Gold has managed some of the most prestigious hospitality properties in the U.S. including Enchanment Resort & Mii amo Spa in Sedona, Arizona, Tanque Verde Ranch in Tuscon, and, most recently Amangiri Resort in Canyon Point, Southern Utah. Visit www.condadovanderbilt.com.


CheapCaribbean.com recently announced its new president, Steve Dumaine, who brings more than 15 years of travel and tourism experience.

Dumaine undertook leadership roles at Travelocity, Expedia, Hotels.com and Sabre Holdings, plus a decade of management consulting and strategic planning expertise from his tenure at Booz Allen.

"This is an exciting new chapter in our company's growth, bringing on a leader who is steeped in travel industry and e-commerce knowledge who can help take us to the next level," said Alex Zozaya, chief executive officer for Apple Leisure Group, in a written release. "We welcome Steve to the Apple Leisure Group family of leading travel companies and know his expertise will be valuable across our spectrum of hospitality companies, as well as specifically for CheapCaribbean.com."

Dumaine takes over the reins of the company from Flo Lugli, principal at Navesink Advisory Group, LLC, who has served as CheapCaribbean.com's interim president since mid-March, following the departure of the company's previous president.

Dumaine most recently served as both the chief strategy and technology and operations officer at Travelocity, where his responsibilities included leading global business strategy, technology and engineering, and end-to-end product management of online and offline applications. 

Prior to joining Travelocity in 2011, Dumaine held various leadership roles at Hotels.com and Expedia from 2007 to 2011. He also worked in business strategy at Sabre Holdings for two years, and before that spent 10 years at Booz Allen as a management consultant for Fortune 1000 companies. 

"I'm thrilled to take this company to new heights with a focus on innovation and value to our customers," Dumaine said in written release. "I look forward to building on our momentum as beach vacation experts and casting my vision for the kind of growth that is valuable to all of our stakeholders." Visit www.CheapCaribbean.com.

Keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com/Caribbean for all the latest Caribbean news and articles.