Born into the Business

Kimberly Rowell, EVP, Five Star Group

Kimberly Rowell

What initially inspired you to get into the hospitality business? My father was a commercial airline pilot, and his passion for travel, took my family and I to hotels around the world. As I walked the lobbies and corridors, I became fascinated with every aspect of the operation and never looked back.  You might say I was born into the business.  

Who were some of your mentors or role models, male or female, and what were their most valuable lessons? I was raised in Manhattan and frequently visited the female-owned and operated Helmsley Hotel where Leona Hemsley epitomized the essence of quality and service. Kirk Kinsell, former Loews President & CEO and president, IHG Americas, for his dedication to empowering and educating women in hospitality as well as for the straight-forward, practical career advice that he provided to me and so many others. Finally, Peggy Berg for founding and dedicating herself to The Castell Project, which has paved the way for all of us! 

What’s your outlook for the future with regards to diversity and inclusion within hospitality? The industry is progressing with the addition of leaders such as IHG’s well respected Chief Development Officer, Julienne Smith. In addition, I was recently named as the only female board member of newly announced Extended Stay Lodging Association represented by many of my esteemed male colleagues from every vertical of the Extended Stay segment. A progressive move by Doug Artusio. 

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