Innovators, Leaders Are Among Hotel Business’ 10 to Watch

When the Hotel Business team sat down to pick our “10 to Watch,” we took a look at industry leaders who have made news not only in 2016 but who are positioned to continue creating our headlines in ’17. For many of our 10, the thoughtful choices and progressive moves they’ve made during their careers created a strong curriculum vitae for obtaining their current positions, and their remarkable portfolios bolstered our decision to include them in this year’s lineup. And—this should surprise very few of us—many of them started at the bottom in entry-level hotel jobs, working their way to the top.

This year, our esteemed 10 (in alphabetical order) are:

• Ross Bierkan, RLJ Lodging Trust, who rose through the ranks to lead the REIT and its portfolio of 125 owned hotels in 21 states and DC;

• Jim Chu, Hyatt Hotels Corp., who has seen the transformation of a company primarily focused on full-service hotels to one that has select-service offerings and is creating an emphasis on franchising, putting him in charge;

• Christian Clerc, Four Seasons, who, after years of experience at the brand, now helms the luxury giant with a commitment to be true to the brand promise on a global level;

• John Cohlan, Margaritaville Holdings, who, long before he was CEO, met Jimmy Buffett, recognized the loyalty of “Parrotheads,” and instinctively knew a growing hotel brand was in the making;

• Kathleen Flores, Trump Hotels, who was brought on to lead the execution and operations of new lifestyle brand Scion for a company that has said it would only offer luxury brands;

• David Kong, Best Western Hotels & Resorts, who, with his many awards—which he shares with the entire BW family—has earned his place in the C-suite and, certainly, on our list as he continues to grow the brand;

• Hung Luk, Lam Group, who has, as COO, been vital to the development of the NYC hotel landscape both in Manhattan and its surrounding boroughs;

• Michael Medzigian, Watermark Capital Partners, who is actively buying hotels at a tremendous pace, having invested close to $2B on behalf of CW1 and CW2 since early 2015;

• Richard Stockton, Ashford Hospitality Prime, who brings his real estate investment banking background to his post as CEO in what he calls “an entrepreneurial opportunity;” and

• Robert Warman, CEO, Langham Hospitality Group, who told us that “delivering service with poise” is key to running the luxury operation, which is expanding its global footprint.

On a closing note, Happy Holidays from Hotel Business and here’s to a healthy and profitable 2017…

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