Lodging Daily News

After 18 years as founding group president and CEO of the Jumeirah Group, a member of Dubai Holding, Gerald Lawless will be transitioning to a new position within Dubai’s Holding Corporate Office. He will remain chancellor at the Emirites Academy of Hospitality Management. He is succeeded by Stefan Leser, who has been appointed group chief executive, effective Feb. 1. He joins the company from Swiss Travel Business Kuoni.

Here is a look at more notable comings and goings that have taken place this week:

 Tim Bugas has been named director of sales and marketing for Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. He has more than 25 years of leadership experience in sales and marketing.

Fairmont Grand Del Mar has welcomed Greg Garnitschnig back as director of sales and marketing after a two-year departure, during which he founded Hotel Sales Solutions, a South Florida-based sales and marketing company specializing in luxury hotels and resorts.

Pendry Hotels, the new brand established by Montage Hotels & Resorts, has appointed Michael O’Donohue as general manager of their first hotel, Pendry San Diego, set to open in late 2016.

T.G.I .Fridays, which completed a 175-location re-franchising program in October, has selected a franchising executive from Hilton Worldwide, Robert Palleschi, as its new CEO. He replaces former CEO Nick Shepherd, who resigned in October.

Destination Hotels has announced the appointment of Andrew Arthurs as senior vice president and chief information officer for Destination Hotels and Lowe Enterprises. Arthurs has more than 15 years of technology experience and the hospitality industry.

Karl Schorman has been named director of HVS Executive Search, Europe, the world’s leading hospitality consulting and services organization. He will be based in London.

InterContinental Hotels Group has named Michael Torres vice president of corporate communications, the Americas. Torres will manage internal and external corporate communications, including employee/organization, crisis/issues management, strategic messaging, marketing communications and media relations.

Diane Hardy has been named the new director of catering for Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island. She has more than 25 years of hospitality and food and beverage experience.

Mokara Hotel & Spa in San Antonio has selected Jackie Flory as spa director, where she will supervise all aspects of operations, team development, and treatment regimens.

Since the year began fewer than two weeks ago, the Royal Bank of Scotland has been ticking off item after item on their list of global marketplace red flags. Falling oil prices, volatility in China, shrinking world trade, rising debt, weak corporate loans, and deflation have the bank comparing the market to 2008—just before the collapse of Lehman brothers—and are advising clients to sell everything except high quality bonds. Read more here.

U.S. business travel will continue to grow at stable and steady rates over the next two years, despite significant headwinds from Asia Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East, the Global Travel Business Association (GBTA) Foundation reports. Overall, GBTA Foundation’s latest business travel forecast found that the U.S. economy has returned to pre-Great Recession footing, but without the same speculative dangers that existed in 2007 and 2008. This bodes well for future U.S. business travel spending, which the GBTA Foundation predicts will grow at 3.2 percent in 2016, reaching $299.9 billion. According to the forecast, price growth is expected across key travel goods and services in 2016 with the exception of airfares. Lodging prices are forecast to increase 3.4 percent. To read the full report, click here.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—President and CEO Katherine Lugar of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) issued this statement following President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address:

“Tonight, by hailing the progress of economic growth and robust job creation, President Obama touted the resilience and success of our nation and spoke to the power of our workers and small businesses. He noted that we are ‘in the middle of the longest streak of private-sector job creation in history.’ Our industry knows this well. With more than five years of consecutive growth and job creation, employing nearly 2 million workers nationwide, the hotel industry has been one of the key drivers of economic growth across the country. The lodging industry is a leader in strengthening our communities and fostering a track to upward mobility and fast-track promotions for those seeking long-term employment with good pay and benefits and the chance to quickly climb the ladder of opportunity. And though we are encouraged that the President strives to sustain the nation’s economic prosperity in the final year of his presidency, we urge the Administration to support public policy that empowers business growth, entrepreneurial ambitions, and certainty rather than implement onerous regulations that could small business owners.

“Critical to generating and maintaining the backbone of our economic resurgence are innovations in technology, which boost the economy and all industries, including ours. As an industry that is constantly innovating to improve the guest experience, we agree with President Obama that there’s a great need to ensure technological advancements strike a balance between privacy and security. Moreover, there should be a level playing field as newer players enter the marketplace when operating in the lodging sector. Only by working together can these critical issues be addressed in a comprehensive way.

“As President Obama begins his final year in the White House, we encourage the President to work hand-in-hand with Congress on bipartisan policy initiatives that bolster our economy, increase innovation, and create the certainty necessary for our industry to continue to invest in our local communities and jobs. We look forward to working with the White House and Congress towards advancing our common goals aimed at strengthening the communities we serve every day.

earlAUSTIN-Texas—Hyatt Regency Austin, located on the shores of Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin, has announced that its security representative, Earl Smith, has been invited to attend the State of the Union address on Tuesday, Jan. 12. Smith will be seated in the private guest box of First Lady Michelle Obama, along with Dr. Jill Biden, and Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to the president.

Smith first met President Barack Obama when the then-senator was campaigning in Texas in 2008 and stayed at Hyatt Regency Austin. Smith met Obama in an elevator and gave the senator a military patch from his time served in Vietnam as part of the 101st Airborne Division. After holding onto the patch for more than 40 years, Smith presented the patch to Obama as a token of good luck to keep him safe on his journey as he continued on the campaign trail. The president carried the patch in his pocket for the rest of the campaign, and later invited Smith to the Oval Office to tell him how the patch and his story had impacted him.

“We are very proud of Mr. Smith and the profound impact he has made on not only the President of the United States but to everyone who has heard his incredible story,” said Michael Murphy, general manager at Hyatt Regency Austin. “Mr. Smith continuously demonstrates true compassion and care for each guest who stays at the hotel, and strives to make a difference in the lives of everyone he meets. He is a true example of Hyatt’s core value of caring for people so they can be their best, and we are honored to have such remarkable person as part of our team.”

Smith has worked in the hotel industry for more than 40 years. He began his career as a room attendant cleaning rooms and sorting guest room sheets and towels. He worked his way up to management positions and was hired as the hotel assistant manager at Hyatt Regency Austin in 1998. He has worked in the security department since that time holding a number of positions including security director. Smith recently received the 2015 Hyatt Regency Icon Award, an award which recognizes outstanding individuals within the hotel. He was also honored with the 2015 Austin Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) Carl McKee Hospitality Person of the Year Award, which honors the best in hospitality and service throughout the Austin-area.

Richard Solomons, CEO of IHG, stopped by Bloomberg Television’s “The Pulse” to discuss the company’s growth, especially in the booming Chinese hospitality marketplace. “The Chinese are traveling more on business, they’re traveling more on leisure as the country opens up,” explained Solomons. “The Chinese government has described travel and tourism as the fifth pillar of economic growth, so they’re investing behind it. So hotels are getting built.” Currently, IHG has 200 hotels in China, with about 200 more in the pipeline. To watch the video, click here.