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NAPA VALLEY, CALIF.—Mark Harmon, Founder and Managing Partner of the Auberge Resorts Collection, was honored by the Napa County Historical Society and inducted into its Lodging Hall of Fame on Thursday, November 12. Named for the company’s Napa Valley flagship hotel, the five-star Auberge du Soleil, Auberge Resorts Collection has played a pivotal role in putting Napa Valley on the map as a destination that is world-renowned for hospitality and culinary excellence. Harmon, who formed the company in 1998, has led Auberge’s growth in Napa Valley and beyond, to destinations as far-flung as Fiji and Costa Rica. The group’s resorts have garnered the highest accolades, and Auberge was recently recognized in Travel + Leisure as one of the top 10 hospitality brands in the world. Auberge Resorts’ Planet Auberge program ensures that the company’s resorts minimize their property footprints while making positive and meaningful contributions to their local environment and communities.
OAK BROOK, ILL.—The Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort & Conference Center has announced the appointment of Erica Tomei as Pastry Chef. In her new role, Tomei will head dessert and bakery operations for the resort’s catering functions, restaurant outlets and retail shops. The winner of the American Culinary Federation’s 2014 wedding cake competition makes Oak Brook Hills a one-stop-shop for house-made wedding cakes, pastries and other baked specialties, something few hotel kitchens can offer. “For me, Erica completes the equation,” said Executive Chef Sean Patrick Curry, who recruited Tomei from her post at the Chicago Marriott Naperville, where the two previously worked together. “Whether it’s a business luncheon or a dinner banquet, I want our guests to have a full restaurant experience. The pastry chef rounds out that vision. It’s no longer me telling perspective clients, ‘Let me see if I can [outsource] something.’ It’s ‘yes, tell me what you want’!”
MCLEAN, VA.—As Vice President, Sustainability & ADA Compliance for Hilton Worldwide, Maxime Verstraete is responsible for ensuring the company’s more than 4,400 properties meet the highest standards in the industry. He oversees key initiatives to help reduce carbon and waste, limit water and energy usage and ensure sustainable sourcing practices. Based in Hilton Worldwide’s headquarters in McLean, Va., Verstraete is part of a nine-person corporate responsibility team that overseas sustainability efforts around the globe. With Hilton almost 11 years, Verstraete says he has been involved in sustainability in one shape or form since 2005. Today, he oversees LightStay, Hilton’s proprietary system developed to calculate and analyze environmental impact. Hilton officially launched LightStay in 2010 after two years of testing. “It is a brand standard globally,” Verstraete says.
LONDON—ITP (the International Tourism Partnership) announced that, following an extensive search and interview process (including with Wolfgang M. Neumann, Chairman of ITP’s Governing Council), Fran Hughes has been appointed ITP Director, effective October 1, 2015. Confirming the appointment, Business in the Community’s Director of Environment and Market Solutions Stephen Farrant said, “Fran is a long-standing champion for responsible tourism. Her passion for ITP’s unique role, her knowledge of the industry and the key issues, coupled with her irrepressible enthusiasm and determination make her a natural for this appointment.” Before joining ITP as Head of Programmes in early 2012, Fran worked for CTS Horizons, Explore Worldwide, The Travel Foundation and as an independent sustainable tourism consultant. She holds an MSc in Environmental Strategy. “I am delighted and excited to take on the role of Director,” Hughes says. Hughes will report to Stephen Farrant.
PORTLAND, ORE.—The Heathman Hotel in Portland, a property with a long history of environmental commitments, announces the appointment of Steven Hurst as General Manager. As General Manager, Hurst will oversee all property operations, sales and executive functions as well as focus on a post-sale re-imaging for the hotel, which is one of the oldest and most respected luxury hotels in the city. Hurst started his career in the hotel business at Pebble Beach Resorts. There, he enjoyed seven years of career advancement, starting as Clubhouse Manager, at The Beach and Tennis Club, Monterey Peninsula’s premier private social and recreational club with a rich history spanning more than 90 years (much like The Heathman). After four years in this position, he took on the role of Assistant General Manager of Casa Palmero, Pebble Beach Resort’s most exclusive hotel.
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Board of Directors announced that USGBC’s Chief Operating Officer Mahesh Ramanujam has been named incoming Chief Executive Officer, and will move into the role after Rick Fedrizzi, the co-founder of USGBC and current CEO, steps down at the end of 2016. “Mahesh has a highly impressive track record of success in both his role as USGBC’s COO and as President of Green Business Certification Inc.,” said USGBC Board Chair Marge Anderson. “He is a proven leader who has exhaustive knowledge of the organization, respect from its volunteer leadership and strong support from its team. He has extensive global experience and broad business acumen. He is the perfect choice to lead the organization into the future.” “As a founder, I could not be happier, and as a CEO, I could not be more satisfied that I’ll be able to leave USGBC in the best hands possible,” said Fedrizzi.
NEW YORK—Rebecca Marshall, Energy and Sustainability Manager at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, says there was a time when the Center was the No. 1 bird killer in New York City. Birds failed to see the windows of the Center as a barrier and collided with the glass. Thanks to the addition of a new glass façade and a 6.75-acre green roof, however, the Center has become an urban sanctuary for wildlife—an amazing turnaround for any building, Marshall says. Bird collisions have declined by 90 percent. As Energy and Sustainability Manager for the Javits Center, Marshall oversees the progress of the green roof—the second largest of its kind in the United States and the largest in the Northeast. She also oversees other aspects of the Center’s sustainability program. “Our sustainability program helps the Javits Center improve the quality of life for our employees, our customers and the community around us,” Marshall says.
DEATH VALLEY, CALIF.—Xanterra Parks & Resorts, Inc. announced the appointment of Dominie Lenz as General Manager of Furnace Creek Resort, located in Death Valley National Park. In this role, Lenz will oversee all operations of both the AAA four-diamond, 66-room Inn at Furnace Creek and the 224-room, family-friendly Ranch at Furnace Creek. “We are delighted to welcome Dominie into her new role,” says Gordon Taylor, Vice President Operations South, Xanterra Parks & Resorts, Inc. “Her tenure with Xanterra Parks & Resorts and commitment to excellence in the hospitality and food and beverage industries mean she is in the perfect position to lead both the Inn at Furnace Creek and the Ranch at Furnace Creek.” Lenz has spent more than seven years with Xanterra Parks & Resorts throughout her career, most recently as Executive Director of Operations for Xanterra South Rim LLC.
SANTA MONICA, CALIF.—Shore Hotel, a leader in sustainability among Santa Monica’s luxury hotels, announces the appointment of hotel veteran Joe Velasquez to its executive team as General Manager. Velasquez brings more than two decades of experience in the luxury hotel business, including success at brands in California, Arizona, and Hawaii. “We know that Joe will bring the expertise and experience Shore Hotel needs to continue providing the highest level of service on which the hotel prides itself,” says CEO Steve Farzam. “Shore Hotel is an extraordinary escape destination where we value our guests and know that Joe will further our commitment to providing personable five-star customer service.” Velasquez was most recently the Director of Sales and Marketing at The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles. Prior to that, he was acting General Manager during the ownership transition at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess in Arizona, which included being responsible for high profile events.
PHILADELPHIA—In need of someone to analyze and quantify the impact of its EarthView program, Hersha Hospitality Trust in 2012 hired Matthew Lobach, currently Associate Sustainability. Today, Lobach is responsible for the development and implementation of EarthView. He also leads the company’s philanthropic Giving Committee. Lobach works closely with Bennett Thomas, Vice President of Finance and Sustainability. “Bennett and I have sustainability in our titles but it is part of everyone’s job responsibility,” Lobach says. EarthView is implemented at the 46 hotels owned by Hersha Hospitality Trust. It is also the program for the 105 hotels that Hersha Hospitality Management manages. In its recently released sustainability report, Hersha Hospitality Trust announced that steps to reduce energy and water consumption and waste generation have resulted in $3.2 million in savings since EarthView was launched in 2010.
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