Personnel Profile

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Tom Rhodes Leads NC GreenTravel Initiative Towards 200 Participating Businesses


RALEIGH, N.C.—Later this year, the NC GreenTravel Initiative will turn five years old. It is very possible that 200 travel-related businesses in North Carolina will be participating in the program by that point. When the program launched toward the end of 2011, its focus was on hotels and restaurants. Today, led by Tom Rhodes, NC Green Travel Initiative Program Manager, many kinds of travel-related businesses have been recognized as green businesses—attractions, museums, parks, vacation rentals, convention centers, festivals and other travel-oriented establishments. “Although I wear several ‘hats’, the majority of my workday involves tasks associated with the green travel program,” Rhodes says. Businesses participating in the NC GreenTravel Initiative first fill out an application geared toward their type of business. There is even an application customized for breweries. There is no cost to participate. Applications are reviewed by Rhodes. While there is no mandatory site visit in order to become a certified business, Rhodes says there are 62 retirees in North Carolina who volunteer their time to do site assessments covering water, waste and energy.

Jeffery Smith Joins Six Senses as Director of Sustainability


BANGKOK—Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas announced that Jeffery Smith has joined the group in the role of Director of Sustainability. In his new role, Smith will ensure that Six Senses remains at the leading edge of sustainable tourism practices. These include environmental performance of each property, support for the preservation of natural and cultural heritage, and enhancing social and economic benefits to local communities in destinations where Six Senses operates. Smith joins Six Senses with 11 years of broad experience of delivering green programs, with internal and external engagement. His most recent role was in the delivery of solar energy solutions for Canadian company Solar Brokers. Prior to this position, he was based in Thailand as Projects Director for Global Vision International where he provided leadership to meet regional objectives for sustainable development. This followed a four-year tenure in the progressive rolls of Sustainability Consultant, Manager and Project Manager for Elephant Nature Park, a sanctuary with tourism components located in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Smith’s wide experience also includes roles in environmental engineering and ecosystem risk management in his native Canada. He holds a Master of Environment and Sustainability.

Host Hotels & Resorts’ Rick Werber Focuses on Adding Value to REIT’s Portfolio


BETHESDA, MD.—For years now Host Hotels & Resorts has been one of the lodging industry’s leading REITs when it comes to energy management, carbon emissions reduction, water management and overall sustainability performance. In 2015 Host Hotels & Resorts was one of two NAREIT Leader in the Light winners in the Lodging/Resorts category. In 2014 Host was on the CDP A List—a list of companies around the world doing the most to combat climate change. Being recognized as a leader not only among REITs but throughout the lodging industry is the result of the work of a team of talented industry veterans, one of whom is Rick Werber, Senior Vice President, Engineering and Sustainability | Development, Design and Construction for Host Hotels & Resorts. Werber has been instrumental in guiding investment in capital projects that have resulted in significant savings for the Bethesda, Md.-based REIT that currently has 115 hotels in its fold. Adding value to the Host portfolio is the focus of Werber, who first worked in lodging as a chief engineer trainee at the Newton Marriott in Newton, Mass.

Rashmi Bhakta is P&G’s ‘Community Hotelier of the Year’


NASHVILLE, TENN.—Arizona volunteer Rashmi Bhakta was awarded P&G Professional’s “Community Hotelier of the Year Award” in conjunction with the Asian American Hotel Owners Assn. (AAHOA). Bhakta was chosen as the grand prize winner after submitting an essay detailing her participation with and support of Child Crisis Arizona. The charity will receive a $10,000 award in Bhakta’s name. Bhakta, who was not able to attend in person, was recognized on stage during the 2016 AAHOA Annual Convention and Trade Show awards presentation at the Nashville Convention Center. Amiti Bhow, who nominated Bhakta for the honor, accepted the recognition on Bhakta’s behalf. The Community Hotelier of the Year Award recognizes an AAHOA member who demonstrates dedication and care for their community and expresses a desire to make a positive impact in the future with a $10,000 donation to the winner’s charity of choice. Bhakta supports Child Crisis Arizona by organizing fundraising events like the Family Garba Night which had both philanthropic and cultural goals and raised more than $9,000 for the organization.

Ezra Gardiner Appointed Head Farmer for Old Edwards Hospitality Group


HIGHLANDS, N.C.—Old Edwards Hospitality Group announces the appointment of Ezra Gardiner as Head Farmer. Ezra will oversee Old Edwards Gardens at Sequoia Lake and The Gardens at Cherrywood including greenhouses and hoop houses. Ezra will be responsible for cultivating vegetables and herbs to support the culinary offerings throughout Old Edwards, including Madison’s Restaurant and Wine Garden, the Spa Café, the country inn at Half-Mile Farm and the Grill Room at Old Edwards Club, as well as weddings and special events. Gardiner was raised in Ashe County, N.C., an agricultural community of small homesteads and sustenance farming where growing things for aesthetic and for the tables and cellars was a part of daily life for most. Gardiner says, “North Carolina is a great place to grow vegetables, especially here in Highlands—one of the most ecologically diverse places in the world. Our latitude is similar to places like northern Egypt, meaning that we have a lot of sunlight even in the winter and that we can grow under minimal protection throughout the year.

JQH Hires David Bishop as Corporate Director of Facilities Management


SPRINGFIELD, MO.—John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts (JQH) announced the addition of David (Dave) Bishop to the capital planning and asset management department in the company’s Springfield, Mo.-based corporate offices. With 20 years of experience in progressive facilities management, Bishop joins JQH as Corporate Director of Facilities Management beginning March 1, 2016. JQH is a leading private, independent owner and manager of hotels in the United States, including operating more than 1 million square feet of meeting space. “We are pleased to add Dave’s unique education and experience to the JQH family,” said Bill George, JQH’s Vice President of Capital Planning and Asset Management. “His impressive track record for effectively completing a range of property projects and earning his associates’ respect will bode well in his role as Director of Facilities Management for JQH’s diverse national hotel portfolio.” Prior to JQH, Bishop served nine years as director of facilities, buildings and grounds for the Springfield Public Schools R-12 district.

Hyatt Regency Crystal City Hires New Chef de Cuisine


CRYSTAL CITY, VA.—The Hyatt Regency Crystal City has launched a new culinary initiative that includes partnerships with regional farms and providers. The new menu features modern interpretations of southern classics made with seasonal ingredients from local farms such as Kreider’s Farms in Lancaster, Pa.; Meadow Creek Dairy in Grayson, Va. and others. The new menu items are now available at the hotel’s Cinnabar restaurant. David Carlson, who recently joined the Hyatt Regency Crystal City team as chef de cuisine, has always had an interest in finding ways to incorporate more locally-grown produce in menu items. Carlson has over 15 years of culinary experience and has developed restaurant menus in Florida, Texas and Doha, Qatar. Carlson is passionate about cooking with fresh, local ingredients and also sources from a number of local suppliers including Olli Salumeria, in Mechanicsville, Va.; Edwards Ham in Surry, Va.; Uptown Bakery in Hyattsville, Md. and Moorenko’s Ice Cream in Silver Spring, Md. “David is very talented in creating delicious dishes that showcase local products,” said General Manager Derrick Morrow.

Nate Lindsay is New Executive Chef at Bardessono Hotel & Spa


YOUNTVILLE, CALIF.—Bardessono Hotel & Spa, the LEED Platinum Certified wine country retreat in the heart of Napa Valley, announces the appointment of Nate Lindsay as the new Executive Chef. Lindsay will oversee all aspects of the culinary experience at Bardessono and for Lucy Restaurant & Bar, the hotel’s award-winning, signature restaurant presenting innovative, garden-inspired cuisine that embodies the property’s “exceptional by nature” modern aesthetic and eco-spirit. “We are delighted to welcome Chef Lindsay to Bardessono and excited to watch Lucy thrive from his fresh culinary vantage, talent and enthusiasm,” said Sileshi Mengiste, Divisional Vice President, Luxury Division Remington Hotels. “Chef Lindsay brings a balanced approach to food thanks to his successful background of intuitive leadership and creative talent—all critical traits to help ensure continued growth and success at Lucy and Bardessono.” Most recently, Lindsay was the Executive Chef at the farm-to-fork restaurant, Jardenea, at Melrose Georgetown Hotel in Washington D.C. Lindsay embraces the philosophy of serving inventive dishes.

Lorraine Francis: the Leading ‘Green Voice’ for NEWH’s Sustainable Hospitality Committee


NEWPORT BEACH, CALIF.—As Director of NEWH’s Sustainable Hospitality Committee, Lorraine Francis leads monthly committee meetings in preparation for educational discussions at key industry events. She works with various subcommittees within the Sustainable Hospitality Committee and has been instrumental in pushing the discussion around sustainability to a higher level. Francis has been on the Sustainable Hospitality Committee for several years and took over as Director in June 2015. One of the Committee’s challenges is “how you make sustainability fun,” Francis says. “Additionally, how can we create more events around sustainability at the local chapter level? Recruiting new people into our committees is also a goal.” The Committee is also responsible for contributing one article each quarter to the NEWH magazine. At this May’s HD Design Expo, the NEWH Sustainable Hospitality Committee will be organizing four educational sessions as part of its Green Voice series. The sessions will take place on May 4 and 5. The NEWH Student Green Scholarship Awards will be presented on May 4.

Starwood’s Andrea Pinabell Finds Best Practices, Scales Them Around the World


STAMFORD, CONN.—As Director of Sustainability and now as Vice President Sustainability, Global Citizenship, Andrea Pinabell has pushed and led Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide toward one of the lodging industry’s most ambitious goals—a reduction of energy consumption and carbon emissions by 30 percent and water consumption by 20 percent by 2020 (baseline 2008). According to Starwood’s 2014 Global Citizenship Report, the company has reduced energy use by 12 percent, carbon emissions by 16 percent, and water use by 17 percent per built hotel room across all owned, managed, and franchised properties. Starwood now has more than 1,270 properties in some 100 countries. Pinabell, who is part of a group of four sustainability-focused associates at Starwood headquarters, is backed by dedicated sustainability teams in each of Starwood’s four divisions. “The way we are structured, we also have sustainability champions at each of our hotels,” Pinabell says.

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