Travel Agents

Flavour of the Week

Vanessa Bussoletti

There’s a spate of new appointments this week, so join the conga line and let’s celebrate!

Outrigger Resorts welcomes Kelly Hoen as area GM


Outrigger Enterprises Group announced that Kelly Hoen has been appointed the area general manager for Outrigger’s two iconic beachfront properties in Waikiki – Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort and Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort.

In this role, she is responsible for sustained operational excellence at both properties, as well as direct oversight of sales strategy, market planning and revenue management. The position also includes day-to-day leadership at Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort, serving as its on-property general manager.

Hoen brings more than two decades of luxury hotel leadership to Outrigger Resorts. Most recently, she served as the general manager for The MODERN HONOLULU, a high-energy luxury lifestyle hotel at the gateway of Waikiki. Prior to this, she was the general manager of The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort where she led the $80 million renovation and rebranding of this historic Waikiki Beach hotel. Before that, she was the general manager of Princeville Resort, a Luxury Collection Resort and was directly involved with the design and development what is now The St. Regis Princeville Resort.

THE MODERN HONOLULU leadership transition continues 

Photo-Douglas Rucker-TheModernHonolulu

THE MODERN HONOLULU has announced the appointment of Douglas Rucker as Managing Director. Rucker, a former Maui hotelier, will transition into his new role with assistance from Kelly Hoen, who is leaving THE MODERN to take on a new opportunity in Hawaii’s hotel industry.

A longtime tourism and hospitality industry leader, Rucker brings extensive and diverse operational expertise in managing luxury hotels, vacation rental ownership, timeshare resorts and private clubs in Hawaii and on the mainland.

Rucker was general manager of Aston Hotels & Resorts Hawaii’s The Whaler on Ka‘anapali Beach in Lahaina, Maui. He currently serves as Managing Director of Human Hospitality Advisors, a consortium of hospitality leadership consultants. In this capacity, he has provided strategic leadership, consulting and operational implementations for resort owners and operators. Rucker also has served in various leadership positions with several resorts in Florida, including Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo; Hawk’s Cay Resort-Marathon in Duck Key; South Seas Plantation on Captiva Island; and Sundial Beach and Golf Resort on Sanibel Island.

New Appointment at Driveaway


DriveAway Holidays has recently appointed Rita Abourjaily to the role of Product Marketing Coordinator.

Rita has been with DriveAway for 8 years. Starting in Reservations then working her way to becoming a Product specialist, Rita has been working for the last 6 years managing the Motorhome and Motorcycle Rentals team.

DriveAway’s Head of Marketing James Dowe says, ‘Rita’s expertise and experience with car rental, leasing, motorhome and motorcycle products is second to none. She is a great asset and addition to our marketing team. Rita’s role will be to maintain the clear communication of DriveAway’s products, pricing and insights to the industry’.

Rita looks forward to making her mark within the industry, “I am keen to get started in my new role and look forward to using my product experience in a new challenge”.

AccorHotels Announces New General Manager Appointments

AccorHotels is pleased to announce the following new appointments in Australia:

 Cleo Seaman

Cleo Seaman has been appointed General Manager, Quay West Suites Sydney. Cleo joined Accor in November 2002 as Food and Beverage Manager at The Como Melbourne before moving to Front Office Manager in June 2005.

In June 2006, Cleo commenced at The Sebel Melbourne as Operations Manager. She was appointed as General Manager at the Sebel Launceston in November 2006, before leaving AccorHotels to join The Establishment Hotel Sydney.

Cleo returned to AccorHotels in June 2009 as General Manager at the Hotel Lindrum Melbourne and was General Manager at The Como Melbourne in September 2012. Cleo was most recently General Manager, Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour since March 2015.

 David McDonald_

David McDonald has been appointed General Manager, Pullman Magenta Shores Resort. David started with AccorHotels in December 2009 at Novotel Canberra as Director of Sales and Marketing and National Account Manager.

He was then appointed as Director of Corporate Sales in January 2011 and Director of Sales and Marketing in the Hotel Integration team from February 2012.

In February 2013, David was appointed Director of Sales & Marketing for Accor’s Darling Harbour Hotels, before commencing his first General Manager position for ibis Darling Harbour in July 2014. He was most recently General Manager for Quay West Suites Sydney since January 2015.

 Sam Panetta - Owners

Sam Panetta has been appointed General Manager, Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour. Sam joined AccorHotels in 2007 as Operations Manager for Accor’s Sydney Olympic Park Hotels and was part of the opening team of Australia’s first Pullman Hotel.

In 2010, he moved on to Sofitel Sydney Wentworth as Executive Assistant Manager and was promoted to Hotel Manager in 2012. Sam was also awarded the AAA Property Manager of the Year in 2012. He was most recently General Manager of Pullman Magenta Shores resort for 2.5 years since 2014.

He has also held positions as Director on the Golf Board for the resort and as a Chairman of Central Coast Tourism Board.

Chris Naylor

Chris Naylor has been appointed General Manager, Ibis Styles Alice Springs Oasis. Chris commenced with AccorHotels in May 2003 and worked as Assistant Manager for Hotel Ibis Sydney Airport Hotel and Mercure Gold Coast Resort before leaving the company in October 2006.

In July 2016 Chris returned to AccorHotels as Hotel Operations Manager at Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel. Prior to this he was Hotel Manager for Oaks Charlotte Towers Brisbane CBD.

Haldon Philp appointed as General Manager of W Brisbane, opening early 2018 

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 12.06.42 PM

W Hotels, part of Marriott International, has announced the appointment of Haldon Philp as General Manager of the highly anticipated W Brisbane. Slated to open in early 2018, W Brisbane marks the re-entry of W Hotels into Australia, bringing a new interpretation of modern luxury to the city.

As General Manager, Haldon will be responsible for recruiting a team of over 230 associates and managing all pre-launch activity to ensure the hotel opens to the highest standard. Upon launch, Haldon will oversee the hotel’s day-to-day operations and be accountable for the commercial and operating strategy and performance of the hotel.

Haldon will report into Victor Clavell, Vice President, Luxury Brands APEC & Bulgari Hotels & Resorts APAC, Marriott International.

Haldon is an experienced hotelier, with over 22 years experience working for premium hotels, predominantly with Starwood Hotels & Resorts, which merged with Marriott International in 2016. Most recently, Haldon managed the successful opening of Sheraton Melbourne Hotel, leading the team to win various awards, including Australasia’s Leading New Hotel at the 21st Annual World Travel Awards, 2014.

Prior to this, Haldon was the Deputy General Manager for The St. Regis Doha, where he led the opening of the 336 room hotel. The property was awarded Middle East Leading New Hotel, Qatar’s Leading New Hotel and the World’s Leading New Hotel at the 2012 World Travel Awards. Haldon joined The St. Regis Doha team from China, where he was Hotel Manager for The St. Regis Shanghai and managed all 350 associates to ensure the smooth operation of the 328 room hotel.

Iconic Vanuatu Resort Appoints New Food & Beverage Team

Christopher Day and Benjamin Stephens
Christopher Day and Benjamin Stephens

Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu has welcomed Benjamin Stephens as the Resorts’ newly appointed Food and Beverage Manager and Christopher Day as Executive Chef. These appointments herald an exciting new era in event and culinary experiences at the Resort.

No stranger to Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG), Benjamin brings a wealth of experience and knowledge, after honing his food and beverage skills in various properties in the Northern Territory, including Holiday Inn Darwin. Benjamin has relocated to Vanuatu from the Gold Coast following his most recent position as Banquet Operations Manager at the famed Palazzo Versace.

Christopher who has joined the Resort from Pokolbin, a vineyard hamlet located in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales, also has extensive IHG experience. His career catapulted in roles held at various IHG properties in Canberra and the Hunter Valley as well as an Executive Sous Chef cluster management role where he oversaw the kitchens of Crowne Plaza Darwin, Holiday Inn Esplanade Darwin and Holiday Inn Darwin.

His most recent role in the Hunter Valley however, was at the renowned Pop Up@Harkham restaurant at Harkham Wine Estate, Pokolbin.

Benjamin and Christopher will be responsible for all Food & Beverage outlets at the Resort which include The Lobby Bar, The Pool Bar, Verandah Restaurant, Room Service and the large Meeting and Events facilities.

Nanuku Auberge Resort Fiji appoints Sascha Hemmann to GM role

 Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 12.12.54 PM

Pacific Harbour, Fiji – Nanuku Auberge Resort Fiji has announced the appointment of Sascha Hemmann to the role of General Manager, effective immediately.

His career spans more than 23 years specialising in resort operations and management with a strong focus on luxury properties in Europe, the Maldives, the Middle East, the United States, South East Asia and China.

This includes key roles with some of the best-known names on the international hotel scene, among them several Leading Hotels of the World-branded properties including the Jebel Ali Golf Resort and Spa, Dubai, UAE; Raffles Resort Canouan Island, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Caribbean, and the Capella Hotel Group.

Mr Hemmann’s career with the Capella Group over a six-year period saw him hold senior managerial positions at three of the company’s high profile properties – the Capella Hotel – Founders Inn & Spa Conference Center, Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA; the Capella Solis Vanke Centre, Shenzen, China, and the Capella Singapore & The Club at Capella (Residences) located on Sentosa Island.

His experience also extends to the Ritz Hotel, London; the Dusit Thani Hotel Dubai and the Fairmont Dubai, UAE; One & Only Kanuhura, Maldives, The Empire Hotel & Country Club in Darussalem, Sultanate of Brunei and also in his hometown at the Four Seasons Berlin.

Prior to his Fiji appointment Mr Hemmann was general manager for Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spa’s flagship property, the Anantara Phuket Layan Resort & Spa in Phuket, Thailand.

A self-described “hotelier by heart” Mr Hemmann is renowned as a driven and conscientious team player with a commitment to deliver.

Grampians Tourism appoints new CEO 

After an extensive recruitment campaign the Board of Grampians Tourism has announced the appointment of Mr Marc Sleeman as Chief Executive Officer. Currently the General Manager of Tourism Kuranda, would commence with Grampians Tourism on July 3.

Mr Sleeman has 20 years’ experience in tourism in both private industry and local government including roles in general management, marketing and sales with responsibility for strategic planning, events, visitor services and stakeholder engagement.

As a Japanese speaker he commenced work with Australian Pacific Tours in Melbourne in the early 1990’s before relocating to Far North Queensland where his roles included Director of Sales & Marketing for Raging Thunder Adventures Group (Fitzroy Island Resort & Ferries) and for the last seven years the General Manager of Tourism Kuranda.

Mr Sleeman said he looked forward to his move back to Victoria and working with local business owners to increase sales and take the Grampians Region to even greater heights.

Fiji Airways appoints Marc Cavaliere as new Chief Marketing Officer

Fiji’s National Airline, Fiji Airways has announced the appointment of industry veteran, Marc Cavaliere, as Chief Marketing Officer. Mr. Cavaliere joins the airline’s executive leadership team, reporting directly to the CEO, and will be responsible for the new, dedicated global airline alliances and partnerships function, as well as all sales channels, marketing activities, and related commercial functions.

Mr. Cavaliere’s professional background includes thirty-seven years of airline industry experience, with extensive international assignments, leading airlines in various regions of the world including the United States.

His key areas of expertise include commercial strategy, marketing, sales management, e-commerce, distribution and collaborative tourism development. With a strong background in airline global alliances, strategic partnerships and virtual network optimisation, with a focus on expanding partner-carrier networks and maximising revenue opportunities, Mr. Cavaliere enters the Fijian National Carrier’s ranks at an opportune time, when it has signed and extended several airline partnerships, and continues to expand its network.

He has served as board member of the Star Alliance Airline Management Board for five years, and as Chairman for two years.  He recently completed a 12-month project with Crystal Luxury Air (sister company to Crystal Cruises) developing their luxury private jet tours programme. Prior to this, Mr. Cavaliere held senior management positions with South African Airways, Spirit Airlines, American Airlines and Pan Am.

Rocky Mountaineer appoints Fiona Watson as Managing Director Asia Pacific


Rocky Mountaineer, world-renowned luxury train operator offering life-changing travel experiences through the Pacific Northwest and majestic Canadian Rockies, is pleased to announce the appointment of Fiona Watson as the Managing Director, Sales – Asia Pacific.

Sydney-based Watson will be responsible for driving continued growth for the iconic global brand within the Asia Pacific region, including introducing the product to the China market. Rocky Mountaineer has experienced seven consecutive years of double-digit growth in Australia and New Zealand, with 2017 showing signs of another profitable year.

Prior to joining Rocky Mountaineer, Watson held various leadership positions over a ten-year period at American Express, most recently as Director, Partnerships & Benefits (Travel), Asia Pacific. Prior to joining American Express, Watson was National Sales and Marketing Manager at Globus.

“Ms. Watson is a passionate and dynamic leader with a wealth of sales and marketing experience spanning multiple channels,” says Karen Hardie, Vice President, Global Sales, Rocky Mountaineer. “We are thrilled to welcome Fiona to our team to continue to drive the upward trend of unprecedented growth from the Asia Pacific region.”


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