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CHICAGO—Ryan McKenzie has been appointed General Manager at Chicago’s newest downtown hotel, the LEED Certified Hampton Inn Chicago Michigan Avenue, opening June 2015. The hotel’s owner, Integrated Motor Club LLC, an affiliate of Murphy Asset Management (MAM), has invested substantially into the transformation of one of Chicago’s finest Art Deco buildings, the historic 1928 Chicago Motor Club Building. Opening in the heart of Downtown Chicago at 68 E. Wacker Place, just steps from the Magnificent Mile, Millennium Park and the Theater District, Hampton Inn Chicago Michigan Avenue will feature a grand, three-story Art Deco lobby, a 67-seat 1920s-style cocktail bar, and intricate architectural details throughout the property. McKenzie was most recently General Manager of Hampton Inn & Suites Mt. Prospect. Beginning his career as a bellman in Tucson, Arizona, McKenzie has built a career out of working for private boutique resorts and hotels for nearly 20 years.
MCLEAN, VA.—Last year Hilton Worldwide began implementing a responsible sourcing strategy that had four main components, the first of which was development of a position within Hilton Supply Management to oversee responsible sourcing, sustainability and special projects. The person selected to fill that role was Judy Pines. Hilton did not have to look far to find her. Pines had been with Hilton for more than 30 years, having originally started as an administrative assistant. Just prior to her current role, Pines was Director Strategic Sourcing FF&E, a position in which she researched, developed, implemented and managed value based supply chain solutions for FF&E products. One of Pines’ primary responsibilities is dealing with waste within the supply chain. Her efforts support RePurpose, Hilton’s waste management program, which helps hotels find creative ways to reduce, reuse and recycle to avoid waste. Pines was instrumental in the development of a corporate-wide mattress recycling program.
NEW YORK—It is becoming a common story in the lodging industry: Executive passionate about sustainability convinces higher ups to create a full-time position dedicated to implementing best, green practices. Naomi Mirsky, Vice President of Sustainability and Innovation for New York based Denihan Hospitality Group, did just that in her company. She joined Denihan in 2011 but in 2013 she pitched the idea of Denihan moving her into a full-time sustainability position. A year later, the middle of last year, Denihan gave her the title and responsibilities she wanted. Now, a little more than half-way into her first year as Vice President of Sustainability and Innovation, Mirsky is helping to formalize Denihan’s commitment to efficiency and corporate social responsibility. Denihan, a nationally recognized, independent owner and operator of boutique hotels, currently has 14 total properties open with one under development. Two hotels are fully owned, six are majority owned, and six are managed.
LAS VEGAS—Two top executives at MGM Resorts International have been recognized for their contributions in diversity, philanthropy and sustainability. Phyllis A. James, Executive Vice President, Special Counsel-Litigation and Chief Diversity Officer for MGM Resorts International, has been named one of 2014’s most influential women in corporate America by Savoy Magazine. Cindy Ortega, Chief Sustainability Officer and Senior Vice President for MGM Resorts International, was named one of the 10 most powerful women in sustainability by Green Building & Design (GB&D). “These honors demonstrate the effect that both Phyllis and Cindy have had in CSR, not just for our company but for the fields of diversity, philanthropy and sustainability,” said Jim Murren, Chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts. One of the influential women joining James on Savoy’s list is Carla Harris, Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management, Morgan Stanley. Another is Ursula M. Burns, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Xerox.
SEATTLE—Paladino and Company, a leading sustainability and green building consulting firm, announced Dina Belon LEED AP ID&C is joining the company as a Director on its senior management team. Belon, who brings two decades of sustainability experience in the development and hospitality industries, will be responsible for working with Paladino’s clients to implement results-driven high performance building strategies. “Dina has an incredible reputation for delivering measurable results through sustainable development,” said Paladino founder and CEO Tom Paladino. “Adding her expertise to our team will be instrumental as we continue in our quest to help our clients innovate and get the most out of their green practices.” Most recently Belon has worked in the sustainable supply space and as principal of RUSH Hospitality, a sustainability design and construction company. Belon has served in prominent development and sustainability leadership roles.
YOUNTVILLE, CALIF.—Bardessono, the LEED Platinum certified wine country hotel located in Yountville in the heart of Napa Valley, announced that its General Manager Jim Treadway was named “General Manager of the Year” in the Small Property category by the California Hotel & Lodging Assn. This award honors a hotelier who has demonstrated superior professionalism in operating a CH&LA member property and has taken a leadership role in the industry by actively participating in association, community or industry programs. “I’m honored by this prestigious CH&LA award, but running a high-performing small luxury hotel is a team sport,” said Jim Treadway, General Manager, Bardessono. “So I share this award with our team at Bardessono. They really are outstanding, and deserve this wonderful recognition. So, too, is Benchmark Hospitality International and its Personal Luxury Resorts & Hotels collection, which provide wonderful management company support.”
ST. JOHN, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS—As Chief Visionary Officer and owner of the eight-suite Eco Serendib Villa and Spa on St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, Harith Wickrema is adamant about providing luxury experiences for guests that “excite, educate, and entertain.” “Eco Serendib Villa and Spa is proof that you do not necessarily have to sacrifice luxury and modern conveniences to live a greener existence,” Wickrema says. Wickrema, who grew up in Sri Lanka where “eco” efforts were standard out of necessity, readily admits that his property is not perfect when it comes to sustainability but he has gone far beyond what is standard to reduce the property’s environmental footprint. The list is very long and can be seen on Eco Serendib’s website but some of the property’s most significant initiatives include: 69 rooftop solar panels, kitchen appliances that use less energy than a 100-watt bulb and are made from as much as 75 percent recycled materials, a gray water system for irrigation, and three separate 20,000-gallon cisterns to collect rainwater.
CHICAGO—Aparium Hotel Group, a leading hotel company specializing in management and development of independent properties across the United States, announces the appointment of Sean Castady as General Manager for The Charmant Hotel, a boutique and historically relevant hotel in La Crosse, Wis. In his role, Castady will direct and oversee all daily operations of the former chocolate factory turned 67-room hotel, scheduled to open in the Summer of 2015. “Sean’s past experience with reputable brands and award winning boutique hotels will complement our translocal philosophy perfectly,” said Kevin Robinson, Chief Operating Officer/Managing Partner, Aparium Hotel Group. “More importantly, Sean will naturally fit into the city of La Crosse with his Midwest roots and hospitable personality. As we prepare for the opening of the property local residents will quickly get to know Sean and will appreciate his commitment to extending the authentic and natural culture of La Crosse through The Charmant Hotel and its future team.”
LAS VEGAS—Trump International Hotel Las Vegas announced the appointment of Sydney Jones as the hotel’s new executive sous chef. Jones, known for using cutting edge and progressive cooking techniques, oversees all aspects of culinary operations at Trump International Hotel Las Vegas including its in-room dining, meetings and banquet facilities and DJT, the hotel’s signature restaurant. With an impressive culinary background that includes positions at some of the country’s most prestigious resorts and notable dining destinations, Jones brings a flare for cooking with Italian influences and a passion for utilizing local, seasonal, farm-fresh ingredients to his new role. “Executive Sous Chef Jones is extraordinarily talented and we are excited to welcome him to Trump International Hotel Las Vegas,” said Brian Baudreau, Vice President and Managing Partner. “He has spent many years developing his own unique cooking style and artistry and guests will enjoy the new culinary concepts and menu creations he has planned for our hotel.”
ORLANDO, FLA.—As Energy & Sustainability Specialist, Resort Management for Wyndham Vacation Ownership (WVO) in Orlando, Jeff Benavides, as part of the sustainability team, touches a lot of people—not only the primary contacts at the 190 resorts that WVO manages, but also the more than 900,000 families who have ownership interests. For Benavides there is no typical day. One time slot might be spent on chasing down rebate and incentive opportunities for a client. Another might be spent on strengthening or administering WVO’s required Sustainability 101 course or voluntary Energy University program. What the sustainability team has accomplished along with others at WVO and Wyndham Worldwide should come as no surprise given Wyndham’s commitment to developing sustainability programs. Wyndham’s Wyndham Green program was launched in 2006 and Wyndham has had a seat at the table whenever the lodging industry has met to discuss important sustainability concerns.
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