Who’s Where in Travel: Kempinski CEO, Carnival and Virgin’s New Officers

This week in the travel industry saw a number of new hotel leadership appointments, plus big ship updates from Carnival and Virgin

Kempinski appointed Martin R. Smura as CEO, effective July 1. Smura has held a number of leadership roles in the hospitality industry, including his most recent stint as executive chairman of the board of the Dorint Hotel Group and 15 years with Intercontinental Hotels Group in various roles, including director of operations in Eastern and Western Europe and a regional GM post, which he assumed at age 28 – the youngest person in the company to ever do so. 

In cruise news, Carnival Cruise Line announced the lineup of senior officers for its newest ship, the Mardi Gras, which is set to launch in 2020. Captain Giuseppe Giusa, who joined the cruise line in 1993 after a career in the Italian Navy, will serve as the ship’s master. Fellow Carnival vets Ferdinando Ruocco and Pierre B. Camilleri will serve as the new ship’s chief engineer and hotel director, respectively. 

Virgin Voyages named Captain Wendy Williams the master of the Scarlet Lady, the first ship for the new, adults-only cruise brand that will also set sail in 2020. Virgin said that Williams, who has over 28 years of shipboard experience, is the first Canadian woman to be the captain of a ship for a major cruise brand. Virgin recruited her, along with nearly a dozen other female officers, through the company’s Scarlet Squad program, an effort to equalize the number of men and women in leadership roles across the maritime industry. 

Starboard Cruise Services, which manages retail options onboard a number of cruise ships, named Lisa Bauer its president and CEO. Based out of Starboard’s Miami headquarters, Bauer will lead Starboard and its sister company, Onboard Media, both of which are part of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. She will report directly to that company’s group managing director, Toni Belloni. Bauer most recently held the position of vice president of onboard experience at Delta, as well as roles at International Cruise & Excursions, Inc. and Royal Caribbean.

Royal Caribbean named Chris Perry to the newly created role of operations – private destinations, putting him in charge of hospitality and managerial operations for the cruise line’s expanding lineup of private island destinations, including the new Perfect Day at CocoCay. He will also provide input on the design and best practices for the new destinations as part of the company’s hotel operations team, led by SVP Mark Tamis. Perry joins Royal Caribbean from Icon Global Partners Limited, where he served as CEO for the amusement operational consulting and management firm.

In other hotel news, Triumph Hotels appointed new team members to four property and corporate positions. Edward Buzzanco, who has been with the brand since 2015, will serve as the new corporate director of sales. Martin Aguilar will serve as the director of sales and marketing for The Evelyn Hotel, The Frederick Hotel and The Iroquois Hotel New York; Glenda Maldonado will serve as the general manager of The Frederick Hotel; and Sava Vailjevic will serve as the general manager of The Evelyn Hotel. 

A number of other individual properties made new leadership appointments:

  • The AC Hotel Los Angeles South Bay, slated to open this summer, hired Victoria “Tory” Coursen as assistant GM, Hector E. Martinez as director of sales and marketing and Alexis Hansen as director of food and beverage. 
  • Outrigger Hospitality Group appointed Sheryl Tsugawa as GM of the OHAHA Waikiki Malia by Outrigger
  • Pan Pacific Seattle named Jonathan Bartlett its new GM and Rebecca Carr its new director of sales and marketing. 
  • The Alexander, a Dolce Hotel, welcomed Barry Cockrum as its GM. 
  • The Fairmont Southampton hired Simon Boden as its director of sales and marketing. 
  • The new 25hours Hotel One Central in Dubai named Chantel Moore its GM.
  • The Hyatt Regency Austin named Sara Hamza its new marketing manager. 

In tour operator news, IWorld of Travel named Zehava Bitton its director of sales, headquartered in Los Angeles

Finally, in destination news, Grand Canyon Group, whose brands include Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters, Grand Canyon Scenic Airlines, Buck Wild Grand Canyon Hummer Tours and Grand Canyon Coaches, announced its new vice president of sales, Kidist Grznar. Nearby, popular Las Vegas attraction The Neon Museum hired Bruce Spotleson as its vice president of partner fund development. 

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