The Biggest Hospitality Comings & Goings of 2017

Each week, LODGING highlights notable hospitality career moves. Below are some of the industry’s biggest comings and goings that took place in 2017.

Extended Stay America just last week appointed its CFO, Jonathan Halkyard, as CEO, effective January 1, 2018. Halkyard is a seasoned corporate executive with extensive knowledge of Extended Stay America, having served as the company’s chief financial officer since January 2015 and, prior to that, as ESA’s chief operating officer since September 2013.

Jim Cosgrove was named Best Western Hotels & Resorts’ Chairman of the Board of Directors for 2018 in December 2017. Cosgrove’s understanding of Best Western operations comes from being a second-generation Best Western hotel owner, multiple leadership roles, and involvement with the company.

Bill DeWitt joined Hospitality Management LLC in 2015 as vice president of hotel operations; in December 2017, he was promoted to president of the company. As president, DeWitt will oversee Best Western and Choice Hotels properties in Kansas and Oklahoma. DeWitt has 30 years of managerial leadership experience at companies including Intercontinental Hotels Group and Marriott Hotels.


In November, the industry learned that Nicolas Graf will use his global education background as associate dean of the NYU School of Professional Studies Jonathan M. Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism. Prior to NYU, Graf served as chief academic officer of Les Roches Global Hospitality Education and taught courses around the world in areas including asset management and business development.

In October, Dream Hotel Group appointed Abid Butt as chief executive officer for the Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa regions. Butt is responsible for the continued growth and global expansion efforts of Dream Hotels. He took the position with more than 30 years of global experience in the hospitality industry.

Also in October, Claire Bennett joined InterContinental Hotels Group as chief marketing officer. Bennett previously worked for American Express, where she held various marketing-focused leadership roles for more than 10 years. Bennett’s hospitality expertise includes leveraging data to make strategic investments and leading advertising, marketing, and media teams.

In September, Pat Pacious, previously chief operating officer of Choice Hotel, succeeded Steve Joyce as chief executive officer.

Paul Sacco was named in September as RLH Corporation’s new chief development officer for upscale brands and corporate development. Sacco’s focus is primarily on the Hotel RL brand. Sacco was president and chief development officer for TPG Hotels & Resorts before joining RLH Corporation.

IHG announced two regional CEO appointments in September. Kenneth Macpherson, who recently served as IHG CEO of Greater China, is leading the new EMEAA region, which encompasses IHG’s current Europe, Asia, Middle East, and Africa regions. Jolyon Bulley, who recently served as COO of the America, will take over for Macpherson as CEO of Greater China in the beginning of 2018.

In August, Wyndham Worldwide announced five appointments to the executive team for their spin-off hotel company: Tom Barber will serve as chief strategy and development officer; Paul Cash will work as grand counsel; Mary Falvey has assumed the role of chief administration officer; Barry Goldstein will serve as chief marketing officer; and Bob Loewen will work as chief operating officer.

In August, Michael Metcalf was promoted to chief operating officer of Crescent Hotels & Resorts, where he had worked for 10 years. Throughout his 25-year hospitality career, Metcalf has worked with varying property types in positions including hotel operations and investment. In his new role, Metcalf is more involved in partner relations and financial strategies.

In July, Two Roads Hospitality named Sherri Gilligan chief marketing officer. In this position, Gilligan focuses on the company’s brands, customer relations, and public relations across the globe. Gilligan joins Two Roads from Capital One, where she served as senior vice president and oversaw credit card marketing.

Aparium Hotel Group announced John Farris as chief marketing officer in July. The Detroit native is excited to bring his business knowledge to the Midwest region. With 30 years of experience primarily in the motor cycle industry, Farris last worked as director of global brand & marketing – alliances and business development for Harley-Davidson Motor Company.

Hard Rock International appointed three executives to the corporate team in June: Jon Lucas as chief operating officer, Dale Hipsh as senior vice president, and Sean Caffery as senior vice president of casino development. Lucas oversees operations and helps Hard Rock expand to the western U.S. Hipsh will mange the company’s hotel portfolio and Caffery will fine new development locations and business partners.

In June, the Board of Directors at Hershey Entertainment & Resorts named John Lawn as CEO. Lawn joined Hershey in 2004 as director of food and beverage. He was named chief operating officer in June 2016, then president in October 2016. Lawn will succeed Bill Simpson, who retires at the end of 2017.

Hilton named Jonathan Witter as chief customer officer in March. In this role, Witter oversees global brands, marketing, loyalty, partnerships, IT, and strategy teams. Witter previously worked for Capital One Financial Corporation as president of retail and direct banking.

Michael (“Mike”) Deitemeyer was appointed as chief executive officer of Interstate Hotels & Resorts in March. He was also appointed to the board of directors. Before Interstate, he served as president of Omni for 13 years.

FairBridge Hotels International announced Rajiv Bhatia as CEO in January 2017. Prior to his appointment, Bhatia served as leader of the Knights Inn brand at Wyndham Hotel Group. Throughout the last decade, he was responsible for brand operations, property openings, design, development, franchise services, quality assurance, training, development financing, and marketing.

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