Latest Staff Appointments News...
AHC+Hospitality Appoints Brian Behler to General Manager of JW Marriott Grand Rapids
October 5, 2015
AHC+Hospitality is pleased to recognize the promotion of Brian Behler to general manager of the JW Marriott Grand Rapids. In his new role Behler will oversee all operations at the hotel by leading his team to achieve strong performance goals and surpass revenue projections.
“We are in excellent hands with Brian,” says George Aquino, vice president and managing director of AHC+Hospitality. “His strong presence and his enthusiasm to motivate those around him has led him to be an extraordinary leader in the day-to-day operations and continuous growth of the JW Marriott Grand Rapids.”
Behler previously served as assistant general manager at the JW Marriott Grand Rapids. He has been a pivotal leader at the hotel focusing on perfecting the guest experience. These efforts were recognized in 2014 when the property earned the #1 guest rating among all JW Marriott hotels in North America.
He plans to continue the JW Marriott standards of excellence. As he transitions into his role as general manager, Behler's goals include creating more opportunities for education, training and leadership.
Behler has been with the 337-room property since the opening in February 2007. Following a successful tenure as director of rooms, Behler was promoted to assistant general manager in 2013. He began his career in hospitality almost 20 years ago, interning with the Marriott brand in Marco Island, FL.
metroConnections announces new hires, promotions
October 1, 2015
metroConnections, Inc. – an award-winning conference, event, stage production and transportation services firm – has announced a number of promotions and new additions to Attend-eSource® Support Services, Conference & Meeting Management Services, Event Services and Production Services.
Cassie Fameree has been promoted to manager of Attend-eSource® Support Services. Fameree joined metroConnections as an Attend-eSource® registration services lead in 2011 and excelled in her position. Most recently Fameree held the positions of assistant manager and account coordinator of the Attend-eSource® Services team. In her new role, Fameree will oversee various client programs, registration support staff, onsite coordination and other tasks. A 2010 graduate of the University of Minnesota, she was previously employed at the Hyatt, Downtown Minneapolis.
Heidi Bachler has been promoted to assistant manager of Attend-eSource® Support Services. Bachler has been with the Registration Team since April of 2013 and has contributed significantly not only to her immediate team, but to the Conference Services division as well. In her new role, she will be responsible for assisting the Support Services Team with onsite registration coordination, report training/efficiency, training team members and overseeing various administrative duties. Bachler holds a bachelor’s degree from North Dakota State University with a major in hospitality and tourism and a business administrative minor.
Makenzie Cunningham has been promoted to senior coordinator, Conferences & Meetings from her role as coordinator for the previous year. Cunningham holds a degree from Minnesota State University, Mankato and was previously employed as a Communications Specialist II at OATI.
In their former roles with the company, Fameree, Bachler and Cunningham were incredible assets to their teams. Their hard work and can-do attitudes will help them excel in their new positions, and metroConnections couldn’t be more thrilled about their futures with the company.
In addition to the above promotions, several new employees and one familiar face have recently joined the metroConnections team.
metroConnections welcomes back Katie Goodmanson after a short hiatus from the industry to care for her children. Goodmanson has been hired to fill her position as account manager of Attend-eSource® Services. Her responsibilities include managing client relationships, communications, timelines and expectations for all Attend-eSource® Services; serving as a liaison throughout the conference registration, website and form-building process; and guiding clients through usage of Attend-eSource® Services. Goodmanson has a substantial amount of experience in the planning field and prior to working at metro from 2006 to 2011 served as an account coordinator at MotivAction.
Meredith Olson has been hired to be program manager of Conferences & Meetings. In her new position, Olson will be responsible for managing accounts with both current and future clients; planning and developing program agendas, budgets and services; managing contracts and vendor negotiations; providing onsite program management; and supervising multiple members of the conference services team in their duties. Olson holds a degree from St. Olaf College and has previous experience at her alma mater and Target.
Phil Karatz has been hired as technical director of metroConnections. In his role, he will manage all technical aspects for his event and production programs as well as assist in creative stage design, room layouts and content execution. Karatz graduated from the Berklee College of Music in Boston and has spent years in the industry touring as a lighting technician, designer and director for artists such as Rush, Ani DiFranco, Bob Dylan, The Doors and others. Most recently Karatz spent the last eight years as a senior account executive at Heroic Productions.
Corbin Holmberg has been added to the metroConnections team in a dual role between Events and Production Services as an events and production assistant. Holmberg’s main duties include managing AV inventory, assisting with warehouse functions and executing event staff setups and teardowns.
The new hires to the metro team come with years of experience as well as an innate understanding of the planning industry. Goodmanson, Olson, Karatz and Holmberg make excellent additions to the company as it continues to grow and expand its reach in the Minneapolis/St. Paul region.
“I’m excited to announce the latest metroConnections promotions and new hires,” says David Graves, president and CEO. “We’ve added notable growth in new customer partnerships and have seen increased business in all four of our service centers, which puts us in a fantastic position to expand our team. We enjoy seeing our current team members push to succeed and grow in their careers. Cassie, Heidi and Makenzie definitely know how to deliver and they do it with a great attitude! Our newest team members have a great feel for our company culture and they bring a new perspective and energy to our team. They will certainly help us continue the growth and ensure the success of metroConnections!”
Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park Welcomes New Executive Sous Chef Atticus Garant
September 29, 2015
Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park, located at 200 North Columbus Drive, is thrilled to announce the appointment of Chef Atticus Garant as Executive Sous Chef. With years of experience ranging from his native Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada to the Bahamas, he continues his tenure with the Fairmont brand as he brings his expertise to Chicago.
Chef Garant most recently served as Executive Sous Chef at Vancouver’s Fairmont Pacific Rim, having worked his way up the culinary line over the past five years from Cook to Chef de Partie to Banquet Sous Chef and even filling the role of Acting Executive Chef. In his role as Executive Sous Chef, he opened the Fairmont Pacific Rim’s Raw Bar expansion, launched the Giovane Market, and spearheaded the hotel’s “Scratch Kitchen” systems and House Charcuterie Program while continually working to exceed customer expectations. He brings his passionate, collegial culinary management approach to the kitchen at Fairmont Chicago – Millennium Park as he works on creating a menu focused around locality and seasonality alongside his colleagues.
“I have always wanted to relocate to a city that is so richly immersed with its food culture like Chicago is, and I can’t wait to be surrounded by diversity and people who are open to creativity,” Chef Garant said. “This is an amazing opportunity within the Fairmont brand to work at a top-level hotel with a truly amazing staff, day-in and day-out.”
Following graduating with honors from culinary school at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, BC, Chef Garant combined his love of fishing and cooking over two summer seasons as Executive Chef at Oak Bay Resort in Canada’s Queen Charlotte Islands. He honed his culinary skills working under acclaimed Michelin three-star chef Daniel Boulud and his team as Chef Tournant at DB Bistro in Vancouver. In this position, he was able to learn effective culinary leadership and kitchen management skills while perfecting his cooking style using many of Vancouver’s distinctly fresh ingredients. He prepared a taste of the tropics when he moved to the Bahamas to serve as Executive Chef at the Cape Santa Maria Resort, ensuring smooth culinary operations for the Oceanside Restaurant and Bar and all in-room dining. His people-centered, “from scratch” approach drives his passion in the kitchen.
“The greatest satisfaction for me as a chef is to see how my food makes people smile,” Chef Garant added. “It should touch someone’s heart and soul. That’s why I put so much passion into everything I prepare.”
Deer Path Inn Names Matthew Barba as General Manager
September 28, 2015
Charlestowne Hotels has announced luxury hotelier Matthew Barba as the new general manager of the Deer Path Inn, a historic English Inn located in Lake Forest, IL, a quaint town along Chicago’s North Shore. In his new role, Barba will oversee day-to-day operations, marketing and sales, and will manage a team of over 125 employees for the 57-room property that features nearly 8,500 sq. ft. of meeting and event space, a fine dining restaurant, a traditional English pub and more.
“Matt’s vast experience in hotel management and concentration in AAA Four and Five Diamond properties made him the ideal individual for the general manager position at Deer Path Inn.,” states Michael Tall, President and Chief Operations Officer of Charlestowne Hotels. “We are excited about this transition and look forward to seeing Deer Path Inn elevated to a world-class lodging and dining destination under Matt’s direction.”
With a career spanning 20 years in hotel management, Barba brings a comprehensive background in hotel, restaurant, and project management to his new role. Prior to Deer Path Inn, he served as Regional Director of Operations at Charlestowne Hotels and was responsible for overseeing the management of several properties in the portfolio and was at the helm of successfully launching the operations for some high-profile hotel projects. Most recently, he opened The Sewanee Inn, located on the campus of the University of the South in Sewanee, TN. The inn was ranked the #1 hotel in Tennessee on TripAdvisor within the first 10 months of opening.
Before Charlestowne Hotels, he held various escalating management positions, including project management, at a number of celebrated hotels. Most notably, The Waldorf Towers in New York, the Garden City Hotel on Long Island, the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville, The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island and the Walt Disney World Resort. Barba holds a degree in Hospitality Management and International Tourism from New York Institute of Technology.
“I’ve always been drawn to historic buildings and loved Deer Path Inn’s iconic manor house on my first visit,” said Barba. “The building’s charm and its relationship with the Lake Forest community made it an easy decision for me. The team and I are looking forward to reopening the Inn and welcoming our guests back again for the first time.”
Deer Path Inn is currently closed for a substantial renovation and will reopen at the end of this year, 2015. For additional information and periodic updates on the renovation and restoration progress, please visit TheDeerpathInn.com.
The Godfrey Hotel Chicago Names Randy Gardner as Hotel Manager
September 25, 2015
The Godfrey Hotel Chicago (127 West Huron Street) announces the appointment of hospitality veteran Randy Gardner as Hotel Manager for the 16-story, 221 guestroom, upscale lifestyle hotel in Chicago’s energetic River North neighborhood.
“Randy brings nearly 25 years of experience to his role at The Godfrey Hotel Chicago. His focus on positive culture not only improves guests’ quality of service, but also the relationships among staff members,” says George Jordan, Senior Vice President of Operations, Oxford Hotels & Resorts and Chicago area hotel General Manager.
Before accepting the position at The Godfrey Hotel Chicago, Gardner was opening Hotel Manager of the neighboring property, the Hotel Felix, where he worked at providing cross-training opportunities for his staff, improving the overall guest experience.
“I believe in a company culture in which all staff are empowered to do what they need to do to make sure guests are completely satisfied,” said Gardner. “My management style is to train staff to handle any issue quickly and take care of every guest – a philosophy that fits well with the Godfrey brand.”
Gardner began his career with a front-desk position at the Red Roof Inn in 1991. He since worked his way up the industry ladder to management and operations roles at hotels across the country, with a specialty in opening and converting properties. As a general manager he opened four different hotels in Las Vegas; helped rebrand a hotel in Myrtle Beach, SC; and launched an Extended Stay America in Downers Grove, IL. He won Manager of the Year from Hotel Felix in Chicago, in particular for the work he accomplished introducing the LEED-certified property with eco-friendly and cost-efficient operations, and Bricton Hotels Group as general manager at the two Mendocino properties. He had also served as opening manager at the Hotel Cass in Chicago.
Hilton Cleveland Downtown Appoints Kevin O’Leary as Director of Food and Beverage
September 21, 2015
Hilton Cleveland Downtown announced the appointment of hospitality veteran, Kevin O’Leary, as director of food and beverage of the 600-room convention-style hotel.
O’Leary brings 29 years of experience to his new role at Hilton Cleveland Downtown. In his previous role as Director of Food and Beverage at Hilton Atlanta Towers, he was responsible for leading a team of 125, developing annual budgets and overseeing multiple restaurant and banquet operations for the 1,242-room convention hotel.
“Under O’Leary’s leadership, our guests will experience signature event planning, new twists on American cuisine and hospitality the Hilton way,” said Teri Agosta, general manager, Hilton Cleveland Downtown. “We are confident his versatility, passion and world-class experience will bring ongoing innovation and success to our food and beverage operations.”
“Cleveland is unique,” said O’Leary. “I’m eager to develop the right food and beverage operations to highlight that uniqueness and provide a brilliant experience for our guests.”
Prior to his new role at Hilton Cleveland Downtown, O’Leary successfully led and implemented Hilton Breakfast Beta Test Initiative for nine test properties at Hilton Americas-Houston. O’Leary has also held positions with Two Brothers Brewing Company and Marriott.
AHC+Hospitality Expands Marketing Team
September 18, 2015
AHC+Hospitality has expanded its marketing team, under the leadership of Chief Marketing Officer Chad LeRoux, to better accommodate the hospitality company’s expanding business. Tracy Fahselt has joined as digital marketing manager and Carrie Kolehouse has been promoted to senior marketing manager for The Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, The Peter Island Resort, Downtown Courtyard By Marriott and JW Marriott Grand Rapids. Both will actively manage various areas in the marketing field.
“As AHC+Hospitality continues to evolve, we are expanding the marketing team in order to keep our hotels and restaurants in the forefront of the industry,” shared Chad LeRoux. “With social and digital content being a top priority, I know the marketing efforts of Carrie and Tracy will expand our reach to new guests and customers.”
Carrie Kolehouse, a member of the hospitality group’s marketing team since 2011, has taken on a new role as senior marketing manager. In addition to managing digital marketing efforts including social media strategy, OTA’s, online reputation management and email marketing, Kolehouse will take on a larger role with SOLACE magazine, the hotel’s destination publication. In her new role, she will be instrumental in expanding the SOLACE brand to in-room televisions in fall 2015 with curated broadcast content as well as overseeing all editorial and advertising sales. Kolehouse will be the main anchor for the television channel, which will focus on highlighting the city of Grand Rapids, the hotel offerings, events, dining, attractions and much more.
Tracy Fahselt, the new digital marketing manager for AHC+Hospitality is responsible for all social media efforts for the properties under the expansive hotel portfolio. Fahselt will grow the brands social media presence by creating new corporate strategies for posting focused and frequent content on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. She will also oversee the digital presence of all hotel restaurants, including The Kitchen and The Kitchen Counter by Wolfgang Puck, which opened in September 2015 at Amway Grand Plaza. Previously, Fahselt worked on online media campaigns at JA PR Group in Grand Rapids and handled marketing and social media content for Universal Forest Product and Wolverine Worldwide. Fahselt studied multimedia production and visual communications at Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids.
Brandon Ganus Named Executive Chef at The Cornhusker, A Marriott Hotel, in Lincoln, Neb.
September 17, 2015
The Cornhusker, A Marriott Hotel, majority owned and operated by Marcus Hotels & Resorts, announced the addition of Brandon Ganus as executive chef. Ganus will oversee all culinary operations of the hotel, including banquets, special events and daily dining.
Ganus brings 13 years of culinary experience to The Cornhusker. He started his career as a kitchen steward at the Renaissance Hotel & Convention Center in Tusla, Okla. and worked his way up to sous chef. As a sous chef, Ganus worked under accomplished chef Bill Doyle, who now holds the position of executive chef at Marcus Hotels & Resorts’ InterContinental Milwaukee.
After nine years in Tulsa, the Oklahoma native moved south, and held the role of executive sous chef at the Renaissance Hotel & Convention Center in Richardson, Texas for two years and then served as executive chef at the Marriott Hotel & Convention Center in Allen, Texas.
In his new position, Ganus strives to bring local Lincoln fare and food purveyors into The Cornhusker kitchen. With a focus on fresh, seasonal foods and market-style presentations, Ganus continually customizes the hotel’s menu to reflect what’s growing best in Nebraska’s fields and farms. Already, Ganus’ unique style is being noticed in Lincoln, as his braised beef short rib with red wine demi-glace took home the “Best in Show” award at the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce’s Savor the City event which took place August 27 at Nebraska Champions Club.
“As the number one hotel for group events and meetings in Nebraska, The Cornhusker offers meeting planners a high-quality experience, including fresh and locally sourced foods. Chef Brandon has created new banquet menus focusing on today’s educated diners, using the freshest ingredients from the area. He also excels at creating customized menus to make each event special and unique,” said Susan Madsen, general manager of The Cornhusker. “We are excited to have Brandon on board and I know both travelers and local residents alike will enjoy his creative and flavorful Nebraska cuisine.”
Ganus received an associate degree in Culinary Arts from The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.
The Eldridge Hotel Announces New Executive Chef
September 16, 2015
Guests to The Eldridge Hotel will soon experience a change in culinary direction as its recently hired Executive Chef Drue Kennedy prepares to introduce his new menu to the Lawrence, Kan., community and its visitors.
Kennedy came to The Eldridge Hotel from Zócalo on the Country Club Plaza. Prior to that he worked for PB&J restaurants, Grand Street Café and was also executive chef at Vivere in Chicago.
His experience at those multi-million facilities makes Kennedy well-qualified to lead The Eldridge Hotel’s catering, dining and banquet services.
“Drue has already made a positive impression on customers with his well-presented, well-balanced daily specials,” said Nancy Longhurst, The Olivia Collection General Manager. “We expect more tasty seasonal cooking, awesome food and beverage pairings and exceptional buffets. On occasion you’ll see him tableside in TEN restaurant checking on guests’ meals. Please make Drue feel welcome and share your favorite Eldridge moment with him.”
Kennedy supervises The Eldridge Hotel’s culinary team. His passion for Italian food, seafood, braised meats and vegetarian and vegan cooking will come through in all of hotel’s culinary efforts.
Chef Kennedy, his wife and stepson look forward to getting to know the Lawrence community better.
The Townsend Hotel Adds New Management to Catering Team
September 11, 2015
The Townsend Hotel, a AAA 4-Diamond, Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star and Travel + Leisure 500-rated luxury property known for its exceptional service and amenities, announced the addition of two new managers to its catering sales team – Maria Finateri as corporate catering sales manager, and Annie Whalen as catering sales event service manager. The announcement was made by Steven Kalczynski, The Townsend’s managing director.
“The Townsend Hotel enjoys a hard-earned reputation as one of the best places in the area for hosting special events, both business and personal, and that takes the behind-the-scenes work of some highly specialized service industry leaders like Maria and Annie,” said Kalczynski. “They embody the passion for excellence and commitment to service that is paramount to The Townsend guest experience.”
As corporate catering sales manager, Finateri – who began her hospitality career more than a decade ago as a college student serving as floor manager at East Lansing, Mich.’s Walnut Hills Country Club – is responsible for establishing new relationships among the area’s business community to further grow the luxury property’s corporate catering clientele.
Prior to joining The Townsend, Finateri honed her service industry skills with roles as beverage and hospitality manager for Darden Concepts in Cincinnati, Ohio and, most recently, sales and marketing manager for Blackfinn Ameripub in Royal Oak and Clinton Township, Mich.
Annie Whalen joins The Townsend Hotel team as catering sales event service manager with a career in the sales and special events industry spanning more than 20 years. In her new role, Whalen is responsible for overseeing the planning and execution of the luxury property’s volume of special events and catering contracts.
Prior to joining The Townsend Hotel team, Whalen served as special event and travel coordinator for the University of Michigan School of Public Health Risk Science Center. She also spent five years planning student and alumni social events at the historic Michigan Union on U of M’s central campus.