U.S. National Parks Travel Trends Data for Hoteliers From Expedia

As the average person checks their phone 110 times per day, it’s no surprise that there’s a need to recharge and go off the grid, and a likely reason why wellness tourism is on the rise. Combined with people’s increased awareness of the growing threats to our natural resources and interest in eco-friendly experiences, traveling to America’s great national parks has never been more appealing.

Based on recent Expedia Group data**, travel to America’s national parks is booming, indicating the various opportunities for hoteliers to capitalize on the interest in key national park markets, including Moab, Yellowstone, Yosemite and Zion National Park. The data revealed:

  • Aside from Zion, where stays are evenly spread throughout the year, the majority of room nights spent at each of the markets occur in the spring and summer seasons (March – September), indicating a spike in demand during periods with ideal weather for outdoor activities;
  • Moab, Yosemite and Yellowstone have seen tremendous positive YoY growth in package demand (nearly 110 percent, 70 percent and 45 percent YoY growth, respectively); 
  • Packages that include lodging, air and car have a strong share of demand in each of the markets (nearly 60 percent share in Moab and Yellowstone, 50 percent share in Zion and 40 percent share in Yosemite);
  • Overall growth in demand to each of the markets continues to be strong (nearly 780 percent YoY growth in Moab, 660 percent YoY growth in Yellowstone, 245 percent YoY growth in Zion and 280 percent YoY growth in Yosemite), with international travelers driving nearly 80 percent of overall demand.

With consumers looking to invest more in memorable experiences, whether with the goal of going off the grid, looking for adventure, or partaking in eco-travel, how can hotels tap into these trends and capture travelers?

  • Don’t be late: On average, packages have a booking window of one month.*** In addition to longer booking windows, package promotions can see higher demand from international travelers and larger parties. Offer your inventory as far in advance as possible to lock in higher rates and longer lengths of stay.
  • Be extra: Travelers will want to get the most of their time at the parks, so offering early check-in, late checkout or complimentary breakfast can go a long way.
  • Put it in park: With travelers increasingly booking car rentals as part of their packages, offering discounted or free parking can help your property stand out among other hotels in the market.
  • Go green: It’s no secret that eco-travel is not just a fleeting trend, but has become an entire movement as sustainability becomes more top of mind for consumers. Offering sustainable features (i.e. water-saving fixtures, linen and towel reuse, green cleaning products, etc.) has been proven to draw in high participation rates among guests, as well increase guest satisfaction.
  • Be the local expert: Leverage the local expertise of your front desk staff to encourage travelers to take guided tours of your park or explore other nearby activities. Showcase your unique experience and differentiate your property to give travelers confidence your property is the best choice for their trip.
  • Leverage insights: Data doesn’t lie and can provide you with invaluable insights into seasonal trends, customer buying habits and more. Tap into available data analytics tools and resources to ensure maximum performance throughout the year.

**Data from Expedia Group (last 12 months, ending in Q3 2018)
***Data from Package Bookings: Learnings from the Top Packages Markets (July 2018)

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Margaritaville Celebrates Groundbreaking of New Hotel on Jacksonville Beach, Florida

Orlando, Fla. – March 15, 2019 – Margaritaville Holdings, the global lifestyle brand synonymous with fun and escapism, made the official announcement today that a new Margaritaville Hotel broke ground on Jacksonville Beach on March 8th. Located adjacent to the beach on Ocean Front North, the property will feature 202 guestrooms with Margaritaville’s casual-luxe design, signature food and beverage concepts, a fitness center, and an outdoor recreation area with a pool and fire pits.

“Jacksonville is one of the fastest-growing destinations in Florida and is well recognized as a classic beach town escape. We look forward to bringing Margaritaville’s ‘no worries’ lifestyle to those visiting Jacksonville Beach, while providing a new spot for locals to kick back and relax,” said Rick Cunningham, senior vice president of development for Margaritaville.

The construction of Margaritaville Hotel Jacksonville is estimated to take 18 to 24 months. Once complete, the property will give guests the ultimate license to chill on Jacksonville Beach, with an exterior beachside pool, a two-story LandShark Bar & Grill and a “LandShark Lookout” observation deck for prime sunset views. Additional amenities include a coffee shop, fitness center and meeting/event space.

The Margaritaville Hotel Jacksonville will offer stunning views of the Florida coastline with a U-shaped layout in order to maximize the number of ocean-view rooms for guests.

The property will also have an internal parking garage with car lifts to help manage space and adjacent to the hotel, expanded city bike lanes to create a walkable and pedestrian-friendly beachfront area. The location’s design team worked closely with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission to create and place well-lit beachfront pedestrian areas that help conserve local sea turtle populations.

Additional details and timing for the hotel’s opening will follow in the coming months.

For more information on Margaritaville, visit www.Margaritaville.com. Follow Margaritaville on Facebook at www.facebook.com/margaritaville, and on Twitter and Instagram at @Margaritaville.

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Hilton Manchester Deansgate appoints new GM

Hilton Hotels has appointed Adam Reckert as general manager of its Manchester Deansgate site.

Reckert joins Hilton Manchester Deansgate, after starting his career in hospitality with Hilton as part of its Elevator Graduate Programme. He has since held a number of positions within Hilton at various hotels around the world, including Hiltons in Abuja, Barcelona, Seychelles and Abu Dhabi, most recently working as general manager of the Radisson Blu Liverpool.

The newly appointed general manager will oversee all departments of the 279-room, 23-floor hotel, and is responsible for all elements of the organisation.

Reckert said: “I’m thrilled to be appointed as general manager of Hilton Manchester Deansgate. It’s one of the most iconic hotels in the North West, and with the wonderful team we have in place, we’re capable of delivering some truly exceptional experiences for our guests. I applied for the position of front office manager at the hotel’s pre-opening stage when I was just 25, but was unsuccessful. I promised myself I’d come back to the property as general manager – for me it’s the best job in the city.

“I believe with the exposure the hotel has, and the power of the Hilton brand name behind it, we have an opportunity to do something really special for our guests and our team and, to support the many wonderful charities that work tirelessly in and around the city, including the continuation of our own annual Star Ball.”

The Hilton Manchester Deansgate is home to the city’s highest bar, Cloud23, situated on the 23rd floor of the hotel. The hotel also has a number of events and conference spaces to hire, including Cloud23, and Podium, its ground floor restaurant.

Reckert continued: “2019 is going to be a really exciting year; we’re on the verge of launching our new menu in Cloud23 and re-positioning Cloud23 not just as the city’s highest afternoon tea destination and cocktail bar, but also as one of the most iconic event destinations in the city. We’re really trying to reach out to new customers who might never have thought to use Cloud23 before for private dinners, events space, birthday parties, you name it.

“Meanwhile, in Podium, we’re going to be engaging with our guests at every opportunity, opening up a new entrance into our bar and re-shaping the image of the restaurant to really focus on guest engagement, I’m a huge believer in hospitality being all about the experience and I can’t wait to work with the team here to deliver that experience!”

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Craddock Terry Hotel at Bluffwalk Center Appoints Puppy Penny Loafer as Official Greeter and Concierge as Famed Buster Brown Retires

LYNCHBURG, VA – (March 15, 2019) – Craddock Terry Hotel at Bluffwalk Center, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, is pleased to announce the appointment of Penny Loafer, a Wire Fox Terrier puppy, to the role of Official Greeter and Concierge. Penny Loafer is taking over for 10-year-old Buster Brown, a Virginia Restaurant and Tourism Association lifetime achievement recipient. In addition to welcoming Penny Loafer to the hotel, Craddock Terry will be opening a biergarten as well as undergo a refurbishment to guest rooms, meeting/event spaces and public area.

Penny Loafer oversees greeting guests of the 44-guestroom boutique upscale hotel, and is available to go with visitors on walks to explore the neighborhood including the Historic District and the Lynchburg Dog Park. She is extremely friendly and hypoallergenic so all guests are able to play with her. Craddock Terry Hotel is proud to be dog-friendly and offers their furry friends staying overnight treats, toys, a dog bed and bowl. Guests can also take advantage of the hotel’s dog walking service and their dog can even go for a walk with Penny Loafer. Later this year, the hotel will be introducing a dog room service menu in order to enhance their experience.

“Buster Brown was an integral part of the hotel and welcomed guests for many years. We will miss him dearly and wish him all the best in his retirement,” said Todd Swindell, Hotel Director of Craddock Terry Hotel at Bluffwalk Center. “We are so excited to welcome Penny Loafer as part of our team. We think she gives our guests a lot of joy when they enter and leave the hotel, and she always makes them feel welcome. Having a puppy as our Official Greeter and Concierge is something we are very proud of and believe enhances the guest experience.”

Buster Brown arrived at Craddock Terry Hotel when he was 10 weeks old and stayed for over a decade. He has graced the cover of various travel sections as well as been featured in a wide range of top outlets. Buster Brown has been awarded a retirement income for his lifetime care and was adopted by his main caretaker at the hotel Christin Fox, Craddock Terry Hotel’s longtime Deputy Director. Guests instantly had smiles on their faces when they would see Buster Brown. Penny Loafer has big shoes to fill but guests love her already.

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Hoteliers celebrate success at RBH awards ceremony

A selection of UK hotels have been awarded “top accolades” at an annual awards ceremony hosted by RBH.

The event, which took place Holiday Inn London – Brentford Lock, recognised the best hotels, teams and individuals across its portfolio of more than 45 hotels, as well as its central support teams.

According to RBH, Holiday Inn Express Middlesbrough was the “big winner” on the night, picking up the ‘Market Share’ and ‘Operational Excellence’ awards based on “consistent growth within a difficult market, outstanding guest feedback and a commitment to constant improvement”.

John Stuart, CEO at RBH, said: “Each and every year, our awards ceremony proves to be the perfect platform to celebrate the performance and input of individuals and teams across the business.

“We are lucky to have an exceptionally talented team across the board who strive to give guests a first class experience day in, day out – and who focus on ensuring the best possible returns for hotel owners. It goes without saying that selecting the winners for each category is never a simple task, and I’d like to congratulate all of our award winners for 2019.

He added: “This year is looking to be a busy one for RBH, with an unprecedented number of hotel openings and new names joining our growing portfolio, so I’m already looking forward to seeing what next year’s event brings.”

The full list of winners is as follows:

  • Market Share Award: Holiday Inn Express Middlesbrough
  • Rising Star Award: Elena Monserrate, Holiday Inn London – Camden Lock
  • Exceptional Service Award: Holiday Inn Express Leicester
  • Transformation and Innovation Award: Holiday Inn Manchester West
  • Employee of the Year: 40 employees recognised
  • Engagement Award: Aloft Liverpool
  • Operational Excellence Award: Holiday Inn Express Middlesbrough
  • General Manager of the Year: Tracey O’Garra, Holiday Inn Express London Southwark
  • Hotel of the Year: Holiday Inn Express London – Epsom Downs

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Playa Hotels and Resorts Appoints Three New General Managers

Ft. Lauderdale, FL (March 15, 2019) – Playa Hotels & Resorts N.V. (NASDAQ: PLYA, “Playa”) has announced the regional appointments of Pedro Tomás and Henry Walther as general managers for Hilton La Romana and Sanctuary Cap Cana, respectively, and Manuel Antonio Perez-Alpuche as general manager for both Hilton Playa del Carmen and Panama Jack Resorts Playa del Carmen. With more than 70 years of combined hotel management experience, the trio bring unparalleled insight to four of Playa’s all-inclusive resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean.

“Playa’s footprint in Mexico and the Caribbean continues to grow and accelerate with the onboarding of these leading industry veterans,” said Alex Stadlin, Chief Operating Officer at Playa Hotels & Resorts. “We aimed to hire general managers who could marry business-minded, revenue-driving acumen with a guest-first mentality that aligned with Playa’s commitment to unrivaled guest experiences. We found those characteristics in Henry, Pedro and Manuel.”

A Dominican Republic native, Pedro Tomás recently transitioned to the role of general manager for the newly rebranded Hilton La Romana resort, which was recently converted from Dreams La Romana in 2018. He will oversee full property renovations, including the integration of family-friendly and adults-only concepts scheduled to be completed by the end of 2019. Tomás launched his hospitality career in 2005 as a room division manager, before transitioning in-house as a resident manager. Going on to become an award-winning hotel management professional, Tomás has been at the helm of AAA Four Diamond recognized properties and the recipient of the 2016 CHRIS Rising Star Award.

A results-oriented career hotelier with longstanding experience in the luxury hotel sector, Henry Walther will oversee the recently reimagined Sanctuary Cap Cana. In his new role, Walther will apply his “bottom-line orientation” to further expand revenue lines for the unique five-star Cap Cana property. Leveraging the property’s recent multimillion-dollar renovation, Walther will strengthen Playa’s brand promise to provide an unparalleled all-inclusive experience at the expansive Punta Cana resort. Walther most recently served as the general manager of upscale properties in Cancun, Cozumel, and Merida, as well as managing director and general manager of Cancun’s first AAA Five Diamond resort.

Manuel Antonio Perez-Apulche will supervise 757 guest rooms between Hilton Playa del Carmen and Panama Jack Resorts Playa del Carmen. His vast hospitality background ranges from positions in operations and human resources to sales and marketing, with experience in major property improvements and transformations. Perez-Apulche previously held roles as general manager, managing partner and project director for top global hospitality groups, and most notably led a team through the opening of a new property in Los Cabos. Using his expertise with large-scale properties, Perez-Apulche will hone a distinct identity for both Hilton Playa del Carmen and Panama Jack Resorts Playa del Carmen, solidifying their reputation as two of Mexico’s top all-inclusive resorts.

For more information on Playa Hotels & Resorts, visit PlayaResorts.com.

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Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants opens first property in Scotland

Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, the global boutique luxury brand from IHG, has opened its first hotel in Scotland; Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel.

Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel is located in one of Edinburgh’s most beautiful squares in the Georgian New Town area and is a UNESCO world heritage site. The 184 rooms and 15 suites are part of seven interconnecting Georgian townhouses including No. 33, a hotel within a hotel that can be booked for exclusive use for up to 24 guests.

The space includes the Townhouse Suite, three signature suites, three junior suites, and six other bedrooms. The dining room and drawing room can also be used for entertaining guests.

Johan Scheepers, general manager, Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel , said: “Kimpton has built its brand on the belief that heartfelt human connections make people’s lives better. We inspire curiosity and embrace people exactly as they are, creating truly meaningful guest experiences. Each Kimpton hotel is an escape from the ordinary, and Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel will offer a vibrant Scottish service full of charm and personality, in one of the world’s most historic cities.”

Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel features to restaurants – The Garden, where guests can sit back and relax for a drink or a meal, whatever the time of day or night or the destination restaurant BABA inspired by the flavors of the Levant and offers mezze dishes.

Guests can also meet fellow travelers at Kimpton’s daily social hour in the hotel’s BABA Bar, take part in free fitness and wellness classes at the recently refurbished, state-of-the-art gym, or enjoy a relaxing treatment at The Spa.

Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel is the second UK opening for the brand following the successful opening of Kimpton Fitzroy London in October 2018. Kimpton said it plans to continue to grow its UK footprint in the coming months with anticipated openings in Glasgow and Manchester.

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How to Organize Your Website Content Like Marie Kondo

By Nick Papa, Senior Copywriter

When Marie Kondo first published “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” in 2011, best practices for website content were almost entirely different. Eight years ago, applying Kondo’s KonMari method to organizing your website would have been unheard of. Back then, landing pages were the name of the game — the more you could create, the better. But as the decade progressed, Google changed the rules. While it was common to have several landing pages targeting variations of the same keyword (e.g., separate landing pages for “hotel near Brooklyn Bridge” and “hotel in lower Manhattan”), Google began to favor websites that have fewer pages with richer, more dynamic content — essentially, quality over quantity.

Thanks to Netflix’s “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo,” there’s been a renewed interest in the KonMari method. So I looked at Kondo’s six basic rules of tidying and considered how you can apply them to managing your website content.

1. Commit yourself to tidying up.

The task of tidying up may seem daunting, but consider this: At HEBS Digital, we’ve found that upward of 50% of landing pages on unwieldy hotel websites (i.e., websites with too many pages) generate no revenue for the property. How do you know when it’s time to tidy up? It’s easy. Check if your single-property website has more than 40 pages, or if your multi-property website has more than 30 pages per property. If your website is over these recommended page counts, commit yourself to improving your website content.

2. Imagine your [best guest’s] ideal lifestyle.

What matters most to your target audience? Is it the convenience of your on-site amenities and facilities? Or proximity to things to do in the destination? This is the key content you need to help website users find. The deeper they have to click into your site to find it, the higher your bounce and exit rates will be. As a rule of thumb, if a user can’t find the information they need in one or two clicks, these landing pages aren’t likely to contribute to the overall success of your website.

Instead of creating endless landing pages buried within layers of navigation, consider all the different ways you can convey a lifestyle by merchandising your website with content:

  • Update hero images with seasonal photography and marketing messages
  • Utilize promo tiles on the homepage to point to important areas of the website
  • Activate content personalization to target audiences with custom marketing messages
  • Refresh your calendar of events throughout the year with key events happening on the property and in your destination
  • Publish regular blog posts about the best things to do in your destination

3. Finish discarding first.

Before you refresh your existing content, the first step is consolidating similar or duplicate content and discarding unnecessary landing pages. If you have less than 50-100 words of content to describe a product or service, consider finding a way to feature it on your website without a dedicated landing page.

Some examples of unnecessary pages include:

  • Separate landing pages for general hotel amenities and business-traveler amenities: Consider consolidating this content into a suitable page layout that serves as a comprehensive overview of all amenities at the hotel.
  • Separate landing pages for a destination area guide and nearby restaurants: All destination content should be consolidated into a suitable page layout that serves as a comprehensive area guide for your destination.
  • Separate landing pages for rooms and suites: Using modules like HEBS Digital’s Rooms Showcase allows you to organize all accommodations on one page, creating a streamlined experience for users.

Once you have identified instances of similar, duplicate, or unnecessary landing pages, identify where you can redirect these pages. If there are two similar landing pages and you can’t decide which to keep, look at metrics such as page views, average time on page, bounce rate, exit rate, and conversion rate to determine which is the best-performing page. After implementing a redirect to the most relevant page, discard (delete) the similar or duplicate page from your CMS.

4. Tidy by category, not location.

After discarding similar or duplicate landing pages, it’s time to tidy your top-performing pages. It’s likely that your hotel website has standard categories, like Accommodations, Dining, and Groups & Events. For single-property websites, it’s as simple as working your way through one category at a time. For multi-property websites, consider refreshing content by category, not location. For example, work on the Dining pages for all of your property locations before moving on to the next category. By focusing on a single category across all your properties, you can ensure consistency in style and content from location to location.

5. Follow the right order.

According to Kondo, the correct order of tidying up (in real life) is: clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items), and sentimental items. These don’t translate into the digital space, but if you could only look at five aspects of website content when tidying up, consider:

  1. Business need. Does the landing page serve a business need?
  2. Discoverability. From the homepage, does it take more than two clicks to get to the landing page?
  3. Content. Does every landing page have at least one strong hero image that visually communicates the primary message of the page? Does every page use clear, concise, and engaging language to convey that message?
  4. SEO. Does every language page have a target keyword, and is that keyword used in the page title, H1 header tag, and the body content?
  5. Miscellaneous items. Are your landing pages merchandised with marketing messages, CTA buttons, and wayfinding that guides users through a flow that leads to a booking?

6. Ask yourself if it sparks joy (for your potential guests).

Free Wi-Fi. Luxury bath amenities. On-site restaurants. So many offerings that were once considered unique have become commoditized. Be realistic about what your target audience expects and what will actually spark joy (i.e., what will make them tick — and click — on your hotel website). If you want to surprise and delight, consider:

  • Content personalization. Speak to new and returning visitors differently. Serve new visitors higher in the funnel information about the destination and what’s nearby the hotel, while showcasing accommodations and special offers to return visitors lower in the funnel who have already signaled affinity for your property.
  • Special offers and packages. Everyone likes to know they’re getting a good deal. Think about ways you can go beyond seasonality or discounted rates to offer something new and interesting. Is your property in New York? Create a package around a favorite film or TV show that takes place in the city. In a tropical beach destination? Include a sampling of signature cocktails in summer room rates. On a mountain? Partner with a specialty retailer to offer brand-name ski gear packages during snowy months.
  • Unique destination area guides. Anyone can go to Condé Nast Traveler or Fodor’s to plan their next trip. But hotels are perfectly positioned to offer up insider tips about their destinations that major travel publishers won’t cover. Tap your concierge or staff to provide recommendations that aren’t published anywhere else.

Need help with the heavy lifting? Tidying is better together. At HEBS Digital, your dedicated Account Manager, Copywriter, and SEO Specialist are here to help you audit your website, make strategic recommendations, and, as Kondo suggests, say arigato (thank you) to old content as we discard and optimize it to meet best practices and quality standards in 2019.

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Trump Turnberry invests £1.6m in cottage suites restoration

Trump Turnberry has completed the restoration of its cottage suites collection, through a £1.6m investment in the Ayrshire resort in Scotland.

Launching in March 2019, the restoration of the nine two-bedroom accommodations forms part of the hotel’s ongoing multi-million-pound refurbishment. According to the hotel, the latest investment opens up a “new era of contemporary accommodation”, offering a “home away from home” option for guests.

Dating back to 1902, the Cottage Suites are at the forefront of the resort’s accommodation and have each been fully restored with Turnberry’s “stunning surroundings and rich heritage in mind”.

Ralph Porciani, general manager of Trump Turnberry, said: “We’re very proud to unveil the Cottage Suites at Turnberry. It’s a project we’ve put a lot of care and attention into and one which introduces a truly unique element to our renowned accommodation.

“The Cottage Suites offer the unmistakable hospitality and atmosphere of Turnberry, but with the feel of a private haven for guests. They are perfectly suited to families and groups who want to explore everything Ayrshire has to offer including the nearby National Trust sites, Culzean Castle and Robert Burns Birthplace Museum.”

Eric Trump added: “Trump Turnberry is one of the finest golf resorts anywhere in the world and we are proud to announce our next phase of investment into this property. When complete, the Cottage Suites will be absolutely spectacular and will be an exciting new product offering for guests looking for even more space with all of the perks of a traditional hotel suite.”

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BENCHMARK® Names Reginald Campbell Director of Food & Beverage for Villas of Grand Cypress

The Woodlands (Houston), Texas, March 2019 … BENCHMARK®, a global hospitality company, has named Reginald Campbell director of food & beverage for Villas of Grand Cypress, a Gemstone Collection property located in Orlando, Florida.  Mark Cox, BENCHMARK's general manager at the resort, made the announcement.

“I am very pleased to welcome Reginald to his new position here at Villas of Grand Cypress, and to our leadership team,” said Mr. Cox.  “He comes to his new role with a solid background in food and beverage operations gained over many years, as well as a keen understanding of the Orlando resort market. We look forward to his continued contributions to our resort’s food and beverage team and to our guests’ culinary experience.”

This appointment represents a promotion for Reginald Campbell, who previously served as director of outlets at Villas of Grand Cypress. Prior to joining Benchmark, Mr. Campbell invested 24 years of his hospitality career with Walt Disney World, serving in food and beverage positions of increasing responsibility within the theme parks, hotels, and Disney’s Pleasure Island.  While with Disney, Mr. Campbell helped open Disney Hollywood Studios and Disneyland Paris.

Reginald Campbell is a graduate of the University of Central Florida where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. He is the recipient of the Walt Disney World Certificate of Sommelier and the Walt Disney World’s Partner in Excellence award. While with Villas of Grand Cypress, he received the Exceptional Manager award on more than one occasion. He is active in the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida, and resides in Apopka, Florida.

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A recent survey from hotel solutions provider HRS has found that the demand for innovative technology in hotels is on the rise


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