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Published on : Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Howard Hospitality Group (HHG), an international hotel investor, developer and operator, announced the official opening of its new Grand Cayman office. The company has assembled an impressive team of new hires, including a Grand Cayman-based director of sales and marketing, hotel manager, food and beverage director and executive chef, who will collectively oversee several properties including the Margaritaville Beach Resort Grand Cayman.
“We’re thrilled to expand our global presence and to have a new office in Grand Cayman, supporting our aggressive growth program,” said Michael Wilkings, chief operating officer of HHG. “Grand Cayman is in the midst of a major evolution with the hospitality and tourism sectors on a major upswing. The island also shares our philosophy of delivering warm, authentic hospitality and creating unique travel experiences, so we are excited to continue expanding our presence here.”
Joining the team in Grand Cayman, effective immediately, are:
James Stephen, Director of Sales and Marketing
James Stephen joins HHG with more than 12 years of hotel and resort experience. In his new role, Stephen will manage all leisure and group sales, public relations and marketing initiatives for HHG’s Grand Cayman properties. Most recently, he served as the sales and marketing manager for the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort on Seven Mile Beach, with prior positions held at the Westin and Marriott hotels in Halifax, Nova Scotia, among others. Stephen is working towards his master’s certificate in hospitality management from Cornell University.
Fiona Leslie, Hotel Manager
Fiona Leslie joins as hotel manager, responsible for the day-to-day management of HHG’s Grand Cayman properties and their staff. With more than 20 years of hotel experience, Leslie has held positions with Hyatt Hotels and Resorts in a variety of locations, including Maui, Lake Tahoe, Grand Cayman and Carmel, California. She also held general manager roles at boutique luxury hotels in California, including Big Sur’s Post Ranch Inn. Leslie’s passion for hospitality extends into the local community and she has served on executive leadership committees for local chambers of commerce, as well as local charities such as the Boys & Girls Club of Monterey County. She holds a bachelor’s degree with a dual major in tourism marketing and Spanish from Niagara University in New York.
Marco Mauthner, Food and Beverage Director
Marco Mauthner has been appointed food and beverage director and will lead the strategy, planning and development of HHG’s various dining outlets. An internationally experienced expert in high-end food and beverage planning and operations, as well as restaurant and hotel openings, Mauthner’s comprehensive experience includes working at the Melia and Hilton Hotels in Vienna, the London Hilton, La Cigale in Doha, and Trader Vic’s restaurants in Shanghai, San Francisco and Abu Dhabi. Mauthner holds a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management from the International Hospitality School in Retz, Austria.
Carlos Contreras, Executive Chef
Carlos Contreras comes to HHG as executive chef with decades of experience in a variety of cuisines and a global sensibility. In his new role, Contreras will oversee HHG’s culinary team, catering and banquet services, and numerous dining outlets including the global steakhouse YARA, a signature HHG concept that will make its debut at the new Margaritaville Beach Resort Grand Cayman. Contreras has worked for some of the world’s leading hospitality companies including Hard Rock Hotels, Westin Hotels, Disney Cruise Lines, Ibero Cruise Lines, Hilton Hotels, Barceló Hotels, Palladium Hotel Group and the Michelin-starred Alejandro del Toro restaurant in Valencia, Spain. He is a member of the World Gourmet Society and the World Food Travel Association. He holds a master’s degree in culinary management from the School of Hotel and Tourism in Valencia. He is also a graduate of the Guild of Master Confectioners and Pastry School in Valencia and Sergio Arboleda University in Bogotá, Columbia, which is where he was born.
The Grand Cayman-based HHG team will focus on the new Margaritaville Beach Resort Grand Cayman, which is currently under development and expected to begin a phased opening later this year. Other properties are being added to the company’s Grand Cayman and Caribbean portfolios, and will be announced soon.