Who’s Where in Travel: New CEOs at Sandals, Puerto Rico DMO

L to R: Carla Campos, deputy director Puerto Rico Tourism Company; Hon. Ricardo Rossello, governor of Puerto Rico; Jon Borschow, chairman of the board, Puerto Rico DMO; Brad Dean, CEO, Puerto Rico DMO; and Manuel Laboy, secretary of Department of Economic Development.(Photo by Puerto Rico Destination Marketing Organization)


It’s been a busy week for executive appointments in the travel industry, particularly in the Caribbean.

Gebhard F. Rainer
Gebhard F. Rainer

On Thursday major Caribbean resort company Sandals Resorts International (SRI) announced that CEO Adam Stewart would be stepping down after 12 years in the role. Effective immediately, he will be replaced by industry veteran Gebhard F. Rainer. Adam Stewart, who is the son of Sandals Chairman and Founder Gordon “Butch” Stewart, will remain deputy chairman of the company. According to a statement from Sandals, the addition of Rainer to the executive team will allow Adam Stewart to consolidate his role as deputy chairman, as well as continue his leadership role in the Stewart family’s extensive hospitality, media, automotive and appliance business holdings. Rainer will report directly to the chairman and deputy chairman, and most recently served as executive vice president and CFO at Hyatt Hotels.

Also in the Caribbean this week Puerto Rico named the CEO for its newly established destination marketing organization, the Puerto Rico Destination Marketing Organization. One year ago the government of Puerto Rico approved the first private sector-led board of directors for the Puerto Rico DMO, and this week the destination announced that Brad Dean will lead the newly minted organization. Most recently, Dean has served as the president and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce for 15 years. He also serves on the Global Leadership Committee for Destinations International and the U.S. Travel Association executive committee, as well as chairing U.S. Travel’s Project: Time Off Coalition. Under Dean’s leadership, the private, not-for-profit DMO will receive a $25 million annual investment to manage all global marketing, sales and promotion of Puerto Rico in collaboration with local government and tourism partners.

Also this week student and youth travel organization STA Travel made Christine Sutton SVP of U.S. operations. Sutton had joined STA Travel in July 2015 as VP of U.S. product and marketing, before being promoted to SVP in her third year with the company. In her new role Sutton will oversee the management and strategy of the U.S. division of STA Travel.

Francis Riley
Francis Riley

In technology news, this week Traveltek Group Ltd. made a number of new appointments as part of its growth strategy for the Americas. The company named cruise industry veteran Francis Riley, formerly of Norwegian Cruise Line, to lead its sales strategy in the Americas. He will be assisted by three newly appointment business development managers: Ivonne Turcios and Yenedi Perez, who will both be based at Traveltek’s Miami headquarters, and Clarice Bongolan, who will be responsible for driving U.S. West Coast sales from the company’s Los Angeles office.

In cruise news, this week Aurora Expeditions made a number of appointments to its global sales team. Craig Upshall has been appointed to the role of sales director UK and Europe, while Edith Beaudoin has been appointed to the role of sales director North America. Both new hires will be responsible for maximizing sales for the line’s new expedition ship, the Greg Mortimer, which will sail its inaugural polar season in 2019/2020. Upshall has over 20 years of experience, most recently with Rocky Mountaineer; while Beaudoin joins from having spent the past year in Nicaragua assisting a not-for-profit organisation build tourism to Nicaragua and the surrounding area of Central America.

In air travel news, this week South African Airways appointed Marlene Sanau as its new vice president of sales, North America. Based in the airline’s Fort Lauderdale office, Sanau will be responsible for implementing sales strategies to strengthen and grow business relationships with the travel trade, OTAs, corporate customers and key tourism industry organizations. Sanau has spent over 25 years with Lufthansa in several sales and operational management positions.

American Airlines appointed Janelle Anderson as vice president - global marketing this week. She will report to Kurt Stache, American's senior vice president – marketing, loyalty and sales, implementing the airline’s global marketing efforts. Anderson joins American from PepsiCo with more than 15 years of leadership and brand experience.

In other hospitality news, this week Great Wolf Resorts Inc., which manages a collection of family-friendly indoor water park resorts, named Murray Hennessey as its next CEO. Hennessey has advised the company’s senior management team during his tenure on the Great Wolf board of directors, and had been serving as interim CEO following the departure of Rubén Rodriguez in December. He now officially assumes the permanent role.

Interstate Hotels & Resorts has named Greg O’Stean as its chief development officer, North America, reporting to Chief Investment Officer Leslie Ng. O’Stean will be responsible for driving overall business growth in North America. Most recently, Greg served as the chief investment officer at Loews Hotels, and he has also held executive roes with the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, Piper Jaffray & Company and GE Capital.

Also this week Two Roads Hospitality appointed Craig A. Waterman as vice president of openings and transitions. In this role, Waterman will oversee new and transitioning projects across the company’s portfolio. Waterman joined Two Roads Hospitality in 2014 as general manager of Hotel Kabuki, a Joie de Vivre property in San Francisco, and regional director of operations, overseeing the Northern California, Arizona and Hawaii regions.

Finally, this week a number of hotels made new management, operations and sales appointments:

  • Waldhotel Health & Medical Excellence, one of four hotels at the Bürgenstock Hotels & Resort Lake Lucerne, named Daniela F. Krienbühl as its director of operations.
  • Bahia Mar Ft. Lauderdale promoted Lisa Namour from sales and marketing director to general manager.
  • Regent Porto Montenegro welcomed new General Manager Kai Dieckmann.
  • Michael Feeley was named general manager of Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa on Mission Bay.
  • The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach named Jon Ushijima director of Asia sales, and Huy Vo director of public relations.

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