Who’s Where in Travel: New at AAA, AIC Hotel Group

It’s been another busy week for executive appointments in the travel industry. Here’s what you need to know. 

This week AAA named Paula Twidale vice president of AAA Travel, effective February 4. She replaces Bill Sutherland, who retired in December after more than 21 years with the organization. Twidale has more than 35 years of experience in the travel industry, most recently serving as executive vice president of Collette Vacations as well as the first female board chair of United States Tour Operators Association

In hotel news, this week AIC Hotel Group promoted Carilis Felipe to the newly created role of director of field sales and promoted Michelle Fariñas to senior destination weddings department manager. Felipe joined the company nine years ago as business development manager, and spent her initial years under Ash Tembe's leadership growing travel agent business in her territories. Six years ago, she was tasked with leading the Weddings Department under Frank Maduro, ultimately growing AIC’s wedding business for North America. In her new role as director of field sales, she will lead a team of six regional directors of business development and 11 business development managers in the United States and Canada, reporting directly to Tembe, who is the company's VP of sales. 

Fariñas joined AIC eight years ago as a wedding sales coordinator. In her new role, she will oversee a dedicated sales team of 11, with the goal of growing the weddings and events business within the company, and report directly to Frank Maduro, VP of marketing. 

AIC Hotel Group spearheads sales and marketing for Hard Rock, Nobu and UNICO hotels in Mexico and the Caribbean

Elsewhere in the Caribbean, this week SunSwept Resorts named Rebecca Platt its director of sales and marketing. She brings over 15 years of extensive sales, public relations, marketing and digital knowledge to the company.

Also this week Dream Hotel Group appointed Dimitri Mitropoulos as vice president of food and beverage, overseeing the delivery of all food and beverage operations at the group’s properties worldwide. Based in New York City and bringing more than 15 years of experience in the hospitality industry to the role, Mitropoulos was most recently director of operations at the TAO Group

In wellness news, Canyon Ranch announced three new senior leadership hires this week. Blake Catlett joins the team as chief development officer, responsible for leading future growth of Canyon Ranch properties and real estate developments. Prior to Canyon Ranch, Catlett was a vice president at Starwood Capital Group. Dianna Balabon joins as senior vice president, sales and marketing. She will direct all sales and marketing efforts, drawing on her 25 years of hospitality sales and marketing experience, which has included executive roles at Leading Hotels of the World, The Peninsula Hotels, and Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, among other luxury hotel collections. Finally, Carl Pratt is returning to Canyon Ranch to serve as the Canyon Ranch Tuscon’s general manager. 

Finally, in air travel news, this week United Airlines named Bryan Quigley its senior vice president of flight operations. Quigley will be responsible for overseeing United's 12,500 pilots and will serve as the airline's FAA certificate director of operations. Quigley will replace Howard Attarian, who is retiring after more than a decade of leadership at United.

Quigley, who joined United in 1995, has held several leadership positions throughout United. He most recently was the vice president of the company's San Francisco hub. Quigley also served as chief pilot and led the team in charge of the integration of policies and procedures following the merger of United and Continental.

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