Virgin Hotels Announces New Chief Executive Officer

Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson, announces James Bermingham’s appointment as Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. Bermingham joins the Virgin Hotels executive team following nearly two decades with Montage International. He will be responsible for delivering the company’s exciting global growth pipeline, multi-award-winning customer experience, and unique culture.

“We are thrilled to welcome James into the Virgin Hotels family,” says Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group. “For over a decade, we have been devoted to providing entertaining and unforgettable experiences for our guests, and I can think of no one better than James to spearhead this effort as we continue to grow the brand on a global scale.”

Bringing more than 35 years of industry experience to the position, Bermingham began his hospitality career in his hometown of Dublin, followed by ten years in London, including executive roles with ITT Sheraton Corporation. His career then led him to the United States, where he held prestigious General Manager roles at the St. Regis Hotel in Houston and the Montage Laguna Beach. Since 2008, he served as Executive Vice President, Operations for Montage International, where he oversaw all aspects of operations for the Montage and Pendry Hotel brands seven hotels and resorts, including owner relations, culture development, and sales and marketing.

“I have long admired Virgin Hotels’ ability to seamlessly blend smart and innovative design with elevated service and – maybe most importantly – fun,” said Bermingham. “Watching the brand grow into itself as a reliable haven for both leisure and business travelers without sacrificing its inherent ‘cool factor’ has been exciting, to say the least, and I’m really looking forward to joining such a dynamic team.”

Bermingham assumes his new role as Virgin Hotels, founded in 2010, experiences its most robust growth to date. In 2021, the brand plans for three coast-to-coast openings in Las Vegas, New Orleans, and New York City while already operating hotels in Chicago, Dallas, and Nashville. Properties in Miami and Edinburgh are also in development, with additional opportunities being pursued in Philadelphia, Glasgow, Cannes, and Ibiza.

“James’ appointment comes at an exciting time of accelerating growth for us,” said Peter Norris, Chairman of Virgin Hotels. “His decades of industry experience and acute global expertise will be a true asset for the brand as we push to expand our footprint both domestically and internationally.”

To learn more about Virgin Hotels, please visit www.virginhotels.com. For future developments, please visit https://development.virginhotels.com. Follow Virgin Hotels on Twitter and Instagram – @virginhotels.

About Virgin Hotels:

Virgin Hotels is a lifestyle hospitality brand that combines heartfelt service, straightforward value, and a seamless, personalized hotel experience with the track record of innovation and smart disruption that Sir Richard Branson’s global Virgin Group has pioneered for 50 years. Each property intermixes a passion for food and beverage with music and culture, fusing with the local landscape and providing a vibrant and inclusive environment for travelers and locals alike. Virgin Hotels Chicago – named the “#1 Hotel in the United States” in 2016 and “#1 Hotel in Chicago” in 2016, 2017, and 2020 by the Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards – Virgin Hotels Dallas – named the “#16 Hotel in Texas” – and Virgin Hotels Nashville are now open. Locations in Las Vegas, New York, New Orleans, Miami, and Edinburgh to follow. Virgin Hotels continues to explore hotel and office conversions and ground-up development in Philadelphia, Boston, Los Angeles, Austin, Seattle, and London.

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The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation Announces $20 Million Endowment at Howard University to Establish the Marriott-Sorenson Center for Hospitality Leadership

BETHESDA, Md., Feb. 24, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation together with Howard University announced today the establishment of the Marriott-Sorenson Center for Hospitality Leadership in honor of Marriott International’s (NASDAQ: MAR) beloved president and CEO, Arne Sorenson, who tragically passed away last week from pancreatic cancer. The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation will provide a $20 million endowment to launch the Center at Howard University, one of the nation’s leading historically Black colleges and universities.

In addition, Marriott International announced the creation of the Arne M. Sorenson Hospitality Fund which will support the critical programmatic and career development elements of the Center. This Fund is dedicated to helping the industry build leadership talent in hospitality. Marriott has pledged the first donation of $1 million and is inviting other companies, organizations and individuals – from all industries – to support this effort.

The Marriott-Sorenson Center for Hospitality Leadership, which will be housed in Howard University’s School of Business, will feature a best-in-class program that expands educational and professional opportunities for Howard students and aims to develop future executives in the hospitality industry.

“I can think of no better tribute to the amazing legacy of Arne Sorenson than to focus on educating and advancing future leaders of the hospitality industry,” said J.W. “Bill” Marriott, Jr., Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board, Marriott International. “Arne’s passion for creating a culture of opportunity brought real change in the executive ranks of our company. But work remains to be done. Our industry needs a pipeline of diverse leadership talent and that’s exactly what this Center will achieve. We are proud to bring Marriott International and our family foundation together to partner with this esteemed university in the city of our founding. This innovative program will foster leadership excellence and help drive greater inclusion at the most senior levels of the hospitality industry. We hope that other hospitality companies will join us in designing the program and providing experiential opportunities to generate talent that will meet the needs of the industry well into the future.”  

“Now is the opportune time to launch this work,” said Mieka Wick, Executive Director, The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation. “The hospitality industry is evolving in new and exciting ways and there is a clear need for a forward-looking program designed to prepare leaders for this dynamic environment. A deeper commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is imperative, not only because it is the right thing to do but because it is also good for the industry. The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation has a long-standing commitment to creating opportunity for all in the hospitality industry. Howard University, one of the nation’s finest historically Black colleges and universities, is ideally suited to partner with us, given the extraordinary students it serves.”

“Lack of diversity in the executive ranks of companies across America has long been a headline and has been further elevated in the national conversation as we are in this important moment of racial reckoning,” said Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick, President, Howard University. “Through this partnership with The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation and Marriott International, we are best positioned to further our existing commitment and address this most pressing issue. As I have gotten to know the Marriott family over the years, I have been impressed with their commitment to the community and excellence. This program will be a game changer for Howard University students and the hospitality industry by designing unique educational opportunities that meet the future demands of the industry, shaping the already promising talents and passions of our business students, and connecting those students with meaningful careers in the industry. What we are creating is a direct connection between an industry that is on the edge of change and a top caliber talent pool for them to recruit from,” Dr. Frederick said.

World-class Hospitality Curriculum

Today’s announcement establishes the Marriott-Sorenson Center for Hospitality Leadership as well as the Arne M. Sorenson Hospitality Fund, which will support the programmatic and career development elements of the Center. The experiential components of this new program, including access to top hospitality executives and industry leaders for Howard students, will make this curriculum appealing and unique. The Marriott family foundation and Howard University will work together to form a hospitality industry advisory council to design a program that will draw on the university’s ideal location in the geographic heart of the hospitality industry—Greater Washington, D.C.—where Marriott and many other hospitality companies are headquartered. In addition to advising on the development of a world-class hospitality curriculum, the Center’s advisory council members will serve as guest lecturers and mentors and provide hands-on learning opportunities for students. The council will include representatives from Howard, the Marriott family foundation and Marriott International as well as corporate hospitality executives, industry practitioners, association leaders and academics who together will develop a hospitality program focused on traditional and experiential learning opportunities. The goal will be to expose students to the hospitality industry through a management lens.

To learn more about the Marriott-Sorenson Center for Hospitality Leadership and the Arne M. Sorenson Hospitality Fund, or to make a donation, please visit www.howard.edu/sorensonfund. To make a major gift, please contact: Dawn Ridley, Assistant Vice President, Institutional Giving via phone or email at (202) 238-2350 or Dawn.Ridley@howard.edu.

About Arne Sorenson

Arne M. Sorenson was President and Chief Executive Officer of Marriott International, Inc., from 2012 until his passing in February 2021. In his role, he presided over the world’s largest hospitality company and some of the most iconic brands in travel. Mr. Sorenson built his tenure on the bedrock of Marriott International’s core values: putting people first, pursuing excellence, acting with integrity, embracing change and serving our world.

Mr. Sorenson led the acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide in 2016, resulting in a dramatic expansion of Marriott’s ability to provide unparalleled guest experiences around the world. The company now has more than 7,600 properties across 133 countries and territories and 30 brands. The merger also created the travel industry’s largest customer-loyalty program, Marriott Bonvoy, which has more than 147 million members.

An outspoken corporate leader, Mr. Sorenson advocated for environmental sustainability, human rights, and diversity, equity and inclusion. Under his leadership, Marriott International was recognized extensively, including by Fortune in 2020 as one of the World’s Most Admired Companies and DiversityInc as one of the Top 50 Companies for Diversity. In 2019, Mr. Sorenson was named CEO of the Year by Chief Executive magazine and was placed on Forbes’ list of America’s Most Innovative Leaders and Barron’s list of the World’s Best CEOs.

About Marriott International

Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) is based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, and encompasses a portfolio of more than 7,600 properties under 30 leading brands spanning 133 countries and territories. Marriott operates and franchises hotels and licenses vacation ownership resorts all around the world. The company offers Marriott Bonvoy™, its highly– awarded travel program. For more information, please visit our website at www.marriott.com, and for the latest company news, visit www.marriottnewscenter.com.

About Howard University

Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 13 schools and colleges. Students pursue more than 140 programs of study leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced one Schwarzman Scholar, three Marshall Scholars, four Rhodes Scholars, 11 Truman Scholars, 25 Pickering Fellows and more than 165 Fulbright recipients.  Howard also produces more on-campus African American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University visit www.howard.edu.

About The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation

The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation works to create access and expand opportunities in communities by partnering with non-profit organizations committed to solving today’s challenges and improving the lives of others in service of vibrant and thriving communities. Founded in 1966, the Foundation invests to strengthen the vitality of the Washington, D.C. community and surrounding region, advance disease-specific therapeutics and mental health initiatives, and promote career preparedness, with a focus in the hospitality industry. The Foundation embraces collaborative relationships with its partners across industries and sectors to drive the greatest impact. Active engagement as a leader and collaborator in the community, both listening to the community’s voice and promoting their interests, is a long-held, valued practice of the Marriott family and the Foundation. To learn more about The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation, please visit https://www.marriottfoundation.org/

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Clarion Pointe Celebrates 25th Hotel Opening

ROCKVILLE, Md., Feb. 24, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — On the heels of rapid development, Clarion Pointe, a midscale select-service brand extension franchised by Choice Hotels International, Inc. (NYSE: CHH), kicked off the year with the milestone opening of its 25th hotel: the Clarion Pointe in Statesville, North Carolina. The brand now boasts nearly 50 hotels open or in the pipeline, with recent openings in Franklin, Tennessee; Rock Hill, South Carolina; and Beckley, West Virginia; and additional openings anticipated this year in Tallahassee, Florida; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Syracuse, New York.

“At Clarion Pointe, we set out to provide savvy travelers with a new approach to the modern hotel experience: affordable accommodations with premium essentials in just the right places,” said Megan Brumagim, vice president, brand management, design and compliance, Choice Hotels. “The opening of the brand’s 25th hotel is proof this concept is resonating with guests and developers — even despite the challenging travel environment — and we look forward to building on the brand’s incredible success with openings in more of travelers’ favorite destinations.”

Located at 715 Sullivan Road in Statesville, North Carolina, just outside the Charlotte metropolitan area, this 104-room Clarion Pointe in Statesville allows travelers to the area to be ideally situated near top attractions such as Lake Norman, the largest manmade lake in North Carolina; the Charlotte Motor Speedway; local breweries, and the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Like all Clarion Pointe hotels, the brand’s newest addition is influenced by the Clarion brand promise of creating social environments while transforming properties with a more modern guest experience. Hotels are specifically designed to appeal to savvy travelers seeking to make the most of their experience,  in destinations that are ideally situated near their favorite attractions. Clarion Pointe allows travelers to optimize their stay with “focal pointes,” such as:

  • Contemporary design touches that guests will want to share with friends, such as signature murals in the lobby and guestrooms inspired by local points of interest.
  • Thoughtful food and beverage selections, starting with a complimentary breakfast and coffee, all the way through craft beer, select wine and small bites available for purchase in the marketplace.
  • Technology with on-demand connectivity to work or chill out, including 49-inch TVs with casting capabilities and free, streaming-strength Wi-Fi to stream shows from personal devices.
  • Dedicated workout space featuring all the modern essentials, like cardio equipment and a strength-training station, to stay fit to the core.

“Choice Hotels is a longtime leader in the midscale segment, with a proven record of creating and growing brands that appeal to guests of today and tomorrow. It’s just one of the many reasons why developers are seizing the opportunity to convert their limited-service properties into Clarion Pointe hotels, and why the brand continues to experience strong levels of guest satisfaction,” said Tom Nee, senior vice president, franchise development, Choice Hotels. “Further, developers can take advantage of our discounts and incentives when converting their hotels, which help to offset costs and add even more value.”

All Choice-branded hotels are participating in Commitment to Clean, an initiative that builds upon the strong foundation of franchisees’ longstanding dedication to cleanliness with enhanced training and best practices for cleaning, disinfecting and social distancing. For more information on Commitment to Clean, visit https://www.choicehotels.com/about/commitment-to-clean-hotels.

The Clarion Pointe in Statesville was developed by Tika Shah and Jigar Majmundar of Shrina, Inc.

For more information on development opportunities, visit choicehotelsdevelopment.com/clarion-pointe.

About Clarion Pointe®

The Clarion Pointe brand, franchised by Choice Hotels, offers savvy, sensible travelers more options for affordable travel.  Hotels offer guests a convenient and affordable experience with elevated essentials in just the right places, including contemporary design touches, curated food and beverage options, and on-demand connectivity. In addition to comfortable rooms with signature murals, Clarion Pointe properties offer modern fitness essentials plus free Wi-Fi and complimentary breakfast. As of December 31, 2020, there are nearly 50 Clarion Pointe hotels open or awaiting conversion since the brand launched. For more information, visit www.choicehotels.com/clarion-pointe.

About Choice Hotels® 

Choice Hotels International, Inc. (NYSE: CHH) is one of the largest lodging franchisors in the world. With more than 7,100 hotels, representing nearly 600,000 rooms, in over 40 countries and territories as of December 31, 2020, the Choice® family of hotel brands provide business and leisure travelers with a range of high-quality lodging options from limited service to full-service hotels in the upscale, midscale, extended-stay and economy segments. The award-winning Choice Privileges® loyalty program offers members benefits ranging from everyday rewards to exceptional experiences. For more information, visit www.choicehotels.com.

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Marriott International Appoints Anthony Capuano As New CEO And Stephanie Linnartz As President

Marriott-Renaissance-Philadelphia

BETHESDA, Md., Feb. 23, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Marriott International’s (NASDAQ: MAR) Board of Directors announced today that Anthony “Tony” Capuano has been appointed Chief Executive Officer and has joined the company’s Board of Directors, effective immediately. He was previously Group President, Global Development, Design and Operations Services. The Board of Directors also announced that Stephanie Linnartz, previously Group President, Consumer Operations, Technology and Emerging Businesses, has been appointed President, effective immediately. Mr. Capuano’s and Ms. Linnartz’s appointments follow the unexpected passing of Marriott President and CEO Arne Sorenson on February 15, 2021.

“Tony has played a critical role in Marriott’s growth over the last decade,” said J.W. “Bill” Marriott, Jr., Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board, Marriott International. “He will be a terrific leader as we continue to advance our growth strategy while also navigating the market dynamics of the COVID-19 pandemic. He works thoughtfully and pragmatically with our owner and franchisee community and has been steadfast in ensuring Marriott delivers operational excellence and elevated customer experiences at our properties. Tony has a deep appreciation for Marriott’s thousands of associates who ultimately deliver on our customer and brand promise and I know he will be a superb steward of our culture. Together with Stephanie in the role of President, and the rest of our exceptional leadership team, Marriott could not be in better hands,” Mr. Marriott said.

“I am honored to be appointed to take the helm of Marriott, but it is a bittersweet moment,” said Mr. Capuano. “Arne was a mentor, a champion and a friend to each member of his close-knit leadership team. It is because of Arne’s efforts that we are prepared to move forward with this transition. Together, we will advance the strategy we have in place, which is laser-focused on recovery, expansion, providing opportunities for our associates, maintaining constructive relationships with our owners and franchisees, delivering safe and innovative experiences for our guests and customers, and building value for our shareholders.”

Prior to this appointment, Mr. Capuano, 55, was Group President, Global Development, Design and Operations Services. In this role, he was responsible for leading global development and design efforts and overseeing the company’s Global Operations discipline. During Mr. Capuano’s tenure leading global development, the company grew its footprint from just over 3,200 properties in early 2009 to over 7,600 properties by year-end 2020. In addition, Mr. Capuano has overseen the tremendous growth and globalization of Marriott’s development pipeline to 498,000 rooms as of December 31, 2020, with more than half of the pipeline representing projects outside of the U.S. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Capuano has led Marriott’s work on its Commitment to Clean initiative, which was designed to enhance Marriott’s already substantial cleaning protocols to provide additional peace of mind for travelers.

Mr. Capuano began his Marriott career in 1995 as part of the Market Planning and Feasibility team. Between 1997 and 2005, he led Marriott’s full-service development efforts in the Western U.S. & Canada. From 2005 to 2008, Mr. Capuano served as Senior Vice President of full-service development for North America. In 2008, his responsibilities expanded to include all of U.S. & Canada and the Caribbean and Latin America, and he became Executive Vice President and Global Chief Development Officer in 2009. Mr. Capuano began his professional career in Laventhol and Horwath’s Boston-based Leisure Time Advisory Group. He then joined Kenneth Leventhal and Company’s hospitality consulting group in Los Angeles. Mr. Capuano earned his bachelor’s degree in Hotel Administration from Cornell University. He is an active member of the Cornell Hotel Society and a member of The Cornell School of Hotel Administration Dean’s Advisory Board. Mr. Capuano is also a member of the American Hotel and Lodging Association’s Industry Real Estate Financial Advisory Council.

Stephanie Linnartz Takes on President Role

As President, Ms. Linnartz will be responsible for developing and executing all aspects of the company’s global consumer strategy, including brand, marketing, sales, revenue management, customer engagement, digital, information technology, emerging businesses and loyalty strategies. In addition, Ms. Linnartz will oversee Marriott’s global development organization, which is responsible for the strategic growth of the company’s 30 lodging brands, as well as the global design and operations services functions. Ms. Linnartz will also spearhead the company’s progress on issues including the intersection of technology and hospitality, the continued growth of the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty platform, the excellence of our brand portfolio, and environmental sustainability.

“Stephanie has a leadership track record and clear vision for how our core lodging business, travel platform initiatives and loyalty strategies can work together to accelerate growth,” said Mr. Marriott. “Her deep experience across our business will enable her to work seamlessly with our owners and franchisees, innovate for our guests and customers, and champion new opportunities for our associates. Tony and Stephanie are exactly the CEO and President we need as we continue to push forward towards recovery and growth in the years ahead.”

“Every member of the leadership team feels a profound sense of loss at Arne’s passing. He was not just a friend and a leader for us, he was a guidepost for the hospitality industry,” said Ms. Linnartz.  “The best way we can honor Arne’s memory is to continue to move the company forward. It is my privilege to take on the role of President and to work with Tony and the rest of the executive team to ensure a seamless transition and to successfully execute our strategy.”

Prior to this appointment, Ms. Linnartz, 52, was Group President, Consumer Operations, Technology and Emerging Businesses, where she was responsible for brand, marketing, sales, revenue management, customer engagement, digital, information technology, emerging businesses and loyalty strategies. Ms. Linnartz played a pivotal role during Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, overseeing the integration of business-critical systems including reservations, property management, revenue management and loyalty. In 2019, under her leadership, the company combined the Marriott and Starwood loyalty programs to create the world’s largest hospitality loyalty program, Marriott Bonvoy, which currently has more than 147 million global members.

Ms. Linnartz, who began her Marriott career in 1997, served as Global Chief Commercial Officer from 2013 to 2019; Global Officer, Sales and Revenue Management from 2009 to 2013; Senior Vice President, Global Sales from 2008 to 2009; Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing Planning and Support from 2005 to 2008; and prior to that, various roles in Marriott’s Finance and Business Development Department. She currently serves on the board of directors of The Home Depot, the world’s largest home improvement retailer. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and government from the College of the Holy Cross, where she is a member of the Board of Trustees, and earned her Master of Business Administration from the College of William and Mary.

About Marriott International

Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) is based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, and encompasses a portfolio of more than 7,600 properties under 30 leading brands spanning 133 countries and territories. Marriott operates and franchises hotels and licenses vacation ownership resorts all around the world. The company offers Marriott BonvoyTM, its highly– awarded travel program. For more information, please visit our website at www.marriott.com, and for the latest company news, visit www.marriottnewscenter.com.

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