Flavour of the Week

Flavour of the Week

We were ready to send this Movers & Shakers story when Crystal announced a new CEO. So he’s in here too.

Tom Wolber appointed as President & CEO of Crystal Cruises


Genting Hong Kong has announced the appointment of travel industry veteran Tom Wolber as the President & CEO of Crystal Cruises effective September 15th.

Wolber To Succeed Edie Rodriguez Who Successfully Led Crystal for the Last Four Years During Transition of Ownership
to Genting Hong Kong.

Wolber brings over three decades of experience in general management, operations, new-build construction and business
development to Crystal during the company’s most significant expansion since its founding in 1988.

Wolber joins Crystal most recently from the Walt Disney Company where he served in various executive roles for 28 years, 10 of which were with Disney Cruise Line where he served as Senior Vice President of Operations. Wolber was involved in transforming Disney Cruise Line from a Port Canaveral based vacation provider to a global cruise line with itineraries covering North America, the Mediterranean and the Baltic.

During his time at Disney, Wolber assisted with the successful design and launch of new builds including Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. Additionally, Wolber served as President and CEO of Euro Disney, Paris and has held senior executive positions in Disney theme parks and resort operations at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

Wolber replaces Edie Rodriguez, who joined Crystal as President & COO in October 2013; she was promoted to President & CEO following the acquisition of the company by Genting Hong Kong in May 2015.

Karen Christensen, Senior Vice President & Managing Director, Australia and New Zealand, said, “It has been a pleasure working with Edie Rodriguez during an exciting phase of expansion for Crystal which has included the establishment of a dedicated corporate office in Sydney earlier this year.

“We have just completed a successful roadshow of travel industry events, during which we were delighted by the industry’s positive response to the Crystal experiences now offered encompassing Crystal Cruises, Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises, Crystal River Cruises and Crystal AirCruises.

“We welcome Tom Wolber, as President & CEO of Crystal and look forward to working with him.”

Australian Cruise Association appoints new Chair

Grant Gilfillan G (2)

Grant Gilfillan, CEO of the Port Authority of NSW, was appointed Chair of the Australian Cruise Association at their AGM on Friday.   The meeting followed the Association’s annual conference which was held in Mooloolaba.

Gilfillan takes over from Stephen Bradford, who stepped down from the role at the expiry of his term after serving for three years.

Association CEO, Jill Abel thanked Bradford for his hard work and support and for leading the organisation through a period of extraordinary growth and its recent name change and rebranding.

“With our focus being firmly on destination development including all important infrastructure needs, the timing is perfect for Grant to continue the great work undertaken by Stephen and the management committee and  steer us through the next important  years” said Abel.

Voting also took place on the Management Committee appointments with Martin Bidgood (Intercruises), Thor Elliott (Fremantle Ports and ACA Treasurer), Tony Clementson (Tourism NT) and Anne McVilly (Port Arthur Historic Authority) retaining their positions.

Jay McKenzie (Bob Wood Cruises) was also appointed to the Committee. Julie O’Brien (Tourism & Events Qld)  continues in her role as Deputy Chair of the Association.

Brisbane Airport Hotels Group lands four top operators in countdown to opening

L-R: Justin Zammit, Peter Mara, Karan Suji, Simon Schlegel

L-R: Justin Zammit, Peter Mara, Karan Suji, Simon Schlegel

The Brisbane Airport Hotels Group (BAHG) has landed another four hugely-experienced operators who will join the team ahead of the October 11 openings of the Pullman Hotel Brisbane Airport, ibis Brisbane Airport and Brisbane Airport Conference Centre (BACC).

As Director of Human Resources, Karan Suji has jumped straight into action with his new appointment. Armed with well over a decade’s experience, Karan is now undertaking a major recruitment drive to fill a host of roles across the hotels and adjoining conference and events centre.

In addition to traditional front-of-house roles and operational positions, Karan is seeking applicants for roles that will span the unique breadth and depth of the various onsite restaurants, bars and event spaces. Karan’s most recent role was working as the Talent & Culture Manager at Novotel Twin Waters Resort and prior to this he was located in Perth, Western Australia as a multi-hotel Human Resources Manager for AccorHotels.

Joining the group as the General Manager for ibis is Peter Mara, who has spent over twenty years working in operational and management roles across hotels, restaurants, bars and casinos. After spending 11 years working for Treasury Casino and Jupiter’s in Townsville, Peter returned to Brisbane to take up a position with the Novotel Brisbane Airport, the first BAHG property.

Since joining the Novotel Brisbane Airport team as Food & Beverage Manager in 2009, Peter has turned his hand to a number of additional roles before being asked to step in to the role as General Manager of the soon-to-be-opened ibis Brisbane Airport Hotel.

Also joining the ranks in a General Manager role is Simon Schlegel, who will head up the Pullman Hotel team. His strong experience in both hotels and major events has included roles with the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, a highly-coveted position on the G20 Taskforce for the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet as well as positions in Beijing, Edinburgh and Canberra.

Rounding out the four senior appointments is Justin Zammit, who will assume the role of Executive Chef across the group. Encompassing the two new hotels and BACC, Justin is well-equipped to take on the multi-venue role with a background that has seen him garner extensive kitchen management experience with large-scale catering venues, five star hotels, and ‘hatted’ restaurants in Australia and Michelin stared restaurants overseas.

Most recently, Justin was in the role of Group Executive Chef for QT Hotels which included properties on the Gold Coast, Port Douglas, Falls Creek and Queenstown. Prior to that he’s held senior positions with Brisbane City Hall’s Epicure, at the 5-star Swissotel Sydney, Hayman Island Resort and a range of leading destinations and properties.

Ahead of the official openings on October 11, Justin will be working to build an equally formidable team, menus and food direction for the upscale Pullman restaurant and private dining room, the ibis beach-style bistro and café, a rooftop bar, 1800sqm functions venue and host of other onsite spaces.

AVANI Hotels & Resorts Appoints Alejandro Bernabé as VP Operations


AVANI Hotels & Resorts, Minor Hotels’ vibrant upscale lifestyle brand, is delighted to announce the appointment of Alejandro Bernabé as Vice President of Operations, AVANI Hotels & Resorts, effective September 2017.

Bernabé joined AVANI as Group Director in January this year. He reports directly to Robert Kunkler, Chief Operating Officer of Minor Hotels and is based at Minor Hotels regional office in Bangkok, which will further strengthen presence and resources in this key market.

Bernabé is responsible for the operational and financial performance of AVANI Hotels & Resorts and he will also be spearheading new developments and brand initiatives. His valuable experience in both operations and F&B allows him to play a vital leadership role in the further development of the brand.

A 20-year veteran of the industry, Bernabé – who started his hotel career in F&B in Switzerland – has worked across multiple disciplines and brands, including varied GM appointments. He has several Bachelor degrees obtained in Spain and the USA, a Hotel Management degree from the Hotel Institute Montreux in Switzerland and a Master of Business Administration from Reims Management School in France.


SeaLink Travel Group has announced the appointment of Anthony Hayes as Chief Operating Officer.

Hayes comes to us with a vast tourism and transport background, most recently as CEO of Fantasea Cruising Sydney. Prior to this role, he was Global Managing Director of AAT Kings, CEO of Tourism Queensland and previously worked at Qantas Airways as Regional Manager of Central Europe.

Jeff Ellison, CEO and Managing Director said, “It is great to have Anthony on-board and he will be working closely with the General Managers to enhance our synergies and build a closer working relationship between our businesses, trade partners and staff.

“We will also leverage his sales and business skills, which will add to the great skills we have at SeaLink”.


Alexander Voegl

Alexander Voegl has been named General Manager of stunning Vietnam resort, Amiana on the Bay in Nha Trang.

Austrian-born, Voegl brings more than 20 years’ experience in the hospitality industry, including 14 years in the role of General Manager, to this popular holiday resort for Australians.

Voegl worked at properties in Switzerland and Germany before moving onto hotel roles in the US in Bermuda and New Orleans, later returning to work in Germany and Myanmar.

He moved to Vietnam in 2006 in senior appointments with hotels in Da Lat, Hue, Long Hai and Vung Tau.

Prior to joining Amiana on the Bay, Mr Voegl was General Manager of L’alyana Ninh Van Bay, Nha Trang and Chairman of the Nha Trang Destination Marketing Organization.

Amiana on the Bay features 155 spacious rooms and villas – all with garden or ocean views and a private terrace or balcony.

At the heart of the resort is a 2500 square metre natural seawater pool plus a 700 square metre freshwater infinity pool and private, guest-only lagoon beach with soft, white sand.

Bacaro restaurant serves modern international cuisine, fresh seafood and excellent traditional Vietnamese food plus tropical cocktails and a selection of wines which can be enjoyed at the three cool bars.

Amiana Spa offers the only luxury private mud bath with an ocean view in Nha Trang, together with a variety of sensual, soothing and rejuvenating massage treatments.

Amiana on the Bay offers extensive meeting facilities with two ballrooms each accommodating up to 220 people.

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