Kansas City Convention & Visitors Association CEO Rick Hughes will step down at the end of this month. Hughes is retiring after 10 years leading the agency, though he will continue to work in a consulting role for the next year. The association’s board is meeting this week to discuss the search for Hughes’ successor. Before coming to Kansas City, Mo., Hughes was executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association, now Visit Indy. kansascity.com
After 15 years as a Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide sales executive, Karen Hughes has joined the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau. She is filling a newly created sales position focused on meetings, conventions and incentives, as well as developing partnerships and programs with airlines, tour operators, travel agents and other intermediaries that sell vacation packages to the islands. As vice president of the VCB’s Meet Hawaii sales effort and travel industry partnerships, Hughes is essentially taking on the meetings responsibilities formerly handled by Michael Murray, who left the organization in March, plus the travel-trade market. Hughes spent five years as regional vice president of sales and marketing for Starwood’s Hawaii properties before moving to the company’s White Plains, N.Y., headquarters six years ago to serve as vice president of global leisure sales and distribution. meethawaii.com
Chris Watson is the new director of sales and marketing for the Hyatt Regency Dallas. Watson has spent his entire 11-year career with Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, including four years in a similar role at the Hyatt Regency Louisville in Kentucky. Prior to that he was director of sales at the Hyatt Regency Bonaventure in Weston, Fla. The Dallas property is located near the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center and has an additional 160,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, including three ballrooms, two exhibit halls, 56 meeting rooms and 42 hospitality suites. The hotel complex also features 1,120 guest rooms and the landmark, 561-foot Reunion Tower. hyatt.com
The Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa in California has appointed Sabrina Guerrero to handle sales in the Washington, D.C., area as its new associate director of sales. She began her career with Hyatt Hotels and Resorts 13 years ago as a switchboard operator before moving to catering and sales positions at Hyatt Regency hotels in Los Angeles, Newport Beach and finally Monterey, Calif., where she was a member of the chain’s top sales team for 2011. The Huntington Beach hotel is a AAA Four Diamond resort with 517 guest rooms and more than 100,000 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor event space. hyatt.com
Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa, Calif., has two new executives in charge of sales and conferences. Amy Walsh has been named director of catering and conference services at the resort, where she will be in charge of selling, servicing and directing banquets, conferences and other group events. She previously had the same position at the Riviera Palm Springs in California and has worked in catering and group sales at The Westin St. John Resort & Villas in the U.S. Virgin Islands and The Wequassett Resort and Golf Club in Harwich, Mass.
The Napa resort also hired Gary Collins as director of sales. Since 1993, he has served in that position at several hotels around the world, including the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa on Maui, Paradise Point Resort & Spa in San Diego, Adams Mark Daytona Beach Resort in Florida, Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort & Spa in Tucsco, Ariz., and, most recently, Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel and Spa in Santa Rosa, Calif.
A California landmark with more than 140 years of history, the Silverado Resort features 390 guest rooms, a 16,000-square-foot spa, two golf courses, 10 swimming pools and 17,000 sq. ft. of event space, which will be undergoing renovations this year. It is owned by golfing legend and NBC Sports analyst Johnny Miller and managed by Dolce Hotels and Resorts. silveradoresort.com
The Ritz-Carlton, Phoenix has hired Joe Wronski as its new director of sales and marketing. For the last eight years, Wronski has served in sales and marketing positions for Omni Hotels in Houston, including the Omni Houston Westside and Omni Houston. His career also includes regional and national sales efforts with Wyndham International and Hilton Worldwide. Phoenix property is a AAA Four Diamond hotel with 281 guest rooms and suites and 20,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. This year it is celebrating its 25th anniversary, scheduled to culminate in the fall. ritzcarlton.com
Jim McSwigan has taken over as general manager of the Atlanta Marriott Century Center/Emory Area in Atlanta. Located northeast of downtown, the hotel features 282 guest rooms and 16 meeting rooms totaling 25,000 sq. ft. of space. McSwigan has a 25-year career with Marriott International, including serving as general manager of five Courtyard by Marriott hotels. In 2006 he was named general manager of the year for the Residence Inn brand. Most recently he was director of operations for the Atlanta Airport Marriott. hotelnewsresource.com
The current general manager and regional vice president at the AAA Five Diamond Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea is making the move to Orlando to open the company’s latest U.S. property. Thomas Steinhauer will take over as general manager of the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World in July, making preparations for the resort’s 2014 opening. The new property is located within the Golden Oak at Walt Disney World Resort residential community. It features 444 guest rooms, 68 suites, a 37,750-square-foot conference center, up to 7,000 sq. ft. of outdoor event space, a Tom Fazio-designed golf course, a spa and three restaurants. A native of Austria, Steinhauer has been with Four Seasons for 18 years. hotelnewsresource.com
InterContinental Hotels of San Francisco is pleased to announce the appointment of Jessie Cable as convention services manager at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins, where she will be responsible for coordinating meeting and event spaces for clients.
Cable brings seven years of experience in the hospitality industry and has held various management positions at hotels including Washington, D.C.’s Mandarin Oriental and the Jefferson.
The Lodge and Spa at Callaway Gardens in the heart of Middle Georgia welcomes Perry Grice as director of sales. Grice brings 15 years of hospitality sales experience, including 10 years as director of sales and conference services at Callaway Gardens. Grice will be responsible for all group sales and accommodations at the resort.
The Amarillo Convention & Visitor Council, a division of the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce in Texas, announced two new area hospitality professionals this week.
Kashion Smith is the new convention sales manager, handling association and government groups and the corporate market. Her duties will have her in Austin regularly. Stephanie Andres, a Louisiana native but longtime resident of Amarillo, is the new sales and servicing assistant.
Sierra Nevada Resort announced the appointment of Brent Truax as its new general manager. He will work alongside resort owners Nancy and Jim Demetriades in overseeing the operation of the new resort in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.
Originally from Vermont, Truax moved to Mammoth Lakes in 2010 and has become an active member of the community, serving on Regional Planning Commissions and State Planning Commissions. Additionally, Truax served as the past president of The Mammoth Lakes Chamber of Commerce, and is currently a board member of Mammoth Lakes Tourism as well as a member of the Disabled Sports of the Eastern Sierra council.
Truax has an extensive background in managing resort properties with an emphasis on health and wellness, including Westin Monache Resort in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.; The Peaks Resort and Spa in Telluride, Colo.; Mirbeau Inn and Spa in Skaneateles, N.Y.; Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Ariz.; and Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa in Whitefield, N.H.
The Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau (DMCVB) has named Keith Kirsten as its new director of sales. Kirsten joins the DMCVB from the Rio Mar Beach Resort in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, where he served as director of sales from the Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., sales office. In his new position, Kirtsen will help guide the DMCVB sales efforts in convention and group business while maintaining and growing the bureau’s relationship with all partner hotels, venues and attractions.
Kirsten brings more than 25 years of sales experience to the role, and previously served as assistant director of sales at the Reno Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority and director of national group accounts at Marriott International.
Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa has announced Richard Ross as its new vice president of sales and marketing. Ross’ responsibilities include shaping and executing all sales and marketing strategies for group and leisure markets; developing new programs to maximize opportunities and exceed revenue goals; management of the public relations and advertising initiatives of the resort; and overseeing the performance management, coaching, recruiting and selection of the sales team.
Ross brings more than 20 years of leadership success in hospitality and tourism. He was most recently with Remington Hotels, where he was vice president and director of sales and marketing. He was nominated as Sales Leader of the Year in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Bay Point Wyndham Resort in Panama City Beach, Fla., announced Gary Johnson as its new general manager. Johnson brings 34 years of experience in the hospitality industry to the role, and previously served as general manager with hotel brands including Sheraton, Embassy Suites, Hilton and Holiday Inn.
Bay Point Wyndham Resort is located in a natural setting on St. Andrews Bay and includes 319 guest rooms, including 60 golf villas, as well as tennis courts, five pools and three onsite restaurants. It has more than 40,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Sage Hospitality named Brandon Hendricks as its new area director of sales and marketing, overseeing two Denver properties: the Union Station hotel, slated to debut in July 2014, and Oxford Hotel. Hendricks has served as the director of sales and marketing for the St. Regis Houston and as assistant director of convention sales at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. He has also held several senior sales executive positions with Hyatt Hotels Corporation, including the Hyatt Regency Lake Las Vegas and the Grand Hyatt Atlanta.
InterContinental Hotels of San Francisco hired Peter Koehler as regional director of operations for Northern California. Koehler now manages InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Staybridge Suites in the region. Koehler has worked in the hospitality industry for more than 35 years, including with the Morgans Hotel in New York City and the Omni Hotel at Independence Park in Philadelphia.
The Board of Directors of the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau appointed Milton Segarra-Pancorbo as President and CEO of the CVB. Beginning in June, Segarra-Pancorbo will take the helm of the nonprofit organization dedicated to driving meetings and conventions to the island. Segarra-Pancorbo will oversee all aspects and operations of the bureau, including its headquarter offices in San Juan and regional hubs of New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C. Prior to assuming this position, Segarra-Pancorbo served as executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company and as secretary of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce, and had sales, marketing and management roles with Hilton Hotels & Resorts and Hyatt Resorts Puerto Rico. Most recently, he worked in business development within the island’s medical tourism arena.
InterContinental Hotels of San Francisco promoted Nelum Gunewardane to general manager for the iconic InterContinental Mark Hopkins in San Francisco. Gunewardane will oversee all aspects of the property and its Top of the Mark Lounge. Gunewardane brings more than 20 years of hospitality experience to the role and was recognized by the San Francisco Business Times as one of the “Most Influential Women in Business” in 2012.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Thursday approved new rules that would increase the available spectrum for air-to-ground broadband service. Current air-to-ground broadband connectivity is covered within a three-megahertz allocation, but the FCC proposal would increase that allocation to 500 megahertz. “For passengers, that should mean higher speeds and the ability to access a wider range of applications, like video,” said commissioner Ajit Pai.