ORLANDO, FL—Loews Hotels at Universal Orlando has named the executive leadership team for Universal’s Aventura Hotel, set to open in August.
Rising 17 floors with 600 rooms, the hotel is the sixth on-site hotel at Universal Orlando Resort and offers views of all three Universal Orlando theme parks, advanced in-room technology, the destination’s first rooftop bar and a virtual reality game room.
“What excites me the most about the executive team is the vision we all share to create a new hotel experience that’s unlike anything else we offer here at Universal Orlando Resort,” said Managing Director Stephen Cummings. His leadership team will include the following executives:
Raj Mehta has been promoted to director of rooms. Mehta has extensive experience across the Universal Orlando Resort hotel campus having served in various roles at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel and the Regional Support Center. He was also part of the project team tasked with opening Loews Sapphire Falls Resort.
David McKeever has been promoted to director of food and beverage. He was previously assistant food and beverage director for Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort and was instrumental in the success of this 2,200-room hotel since it opened in 2014. Prior to joining Loews Hotels at Universal Orlando, McKeever held several leadership positions with Hyatt, Marriott, Universal and Hilton.
Mouhssine Benhamacht has been named executive chef. Most recently, he was executive chef at Meraki Market, described as a “temple of food disguised as a little corner store,” in San Francisco. His culinary career also includes sous chef posts at Spice Market under Chef Jean George Vongerichten and at Loews Atlanta Hotel alongside Master Chef Olivier Gaupin. Benhamacht was chef de cuisine at the former Loews Don CeSar Hotel’s Maritana Grille.
Jake Plata has been promoted to director of housekeeping. He was previously assistant director of housekeeping at Loews Royal Pacific Resort. Plata is an accomplished hospitality industry professional with more than 10 years of experience. Prior to joining Loews Hotels at Universal Orlando, he held positions at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino and the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.
Elroy Dalmida is director of engineering. He previously served as chief engineer for Loews Royal Pacific Resort and assistant director of engineering for the former Loews Don CeSar Hotel. Dalmida began his hospitality career as an electrician with Ritz Carlton Hotels and rose to become director of engineering at the Ritz Carlton St. Thomas during his 13-year tenure with the company.
Stephanie Legros has been promoted to director of human resources. She was previously associate director of human resources for Loews Royal Pacific Resort and Loews Sapphire Falls Resort. Legros began her career with Loews Hotels & Co at Loews Philadelphia Hotel and has served in a variety of human resources roles in her 16 years with the company.
Joseph Romano is director of finance. He spent 29 years with Hyatt Hotels and has extensive experience in Florida’s hospitality industry. Romano was previously director of finance at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Chicago.
The executive leadership team will oversee the August opening of Universal’s Aventura Hotel, which will add more than 300 jobs to Orlando’s hospitality industry.
For more info on the Aventura Hotel and more, check out our interview with Jonathan Tisch and Alex Tisch of Loews Hotels & Co.