In August of this year, Hubert Joly, shocked the hospitality industry when he decided to leave his post as the CEO of Carlson to lead the struggling electronics retailer Best Buy. Joly was responsible for Carlson since his appointment as president and CEO in 2008 and crafted and led the implementation of Ambition 2015, a comprehensive strategy to strengthen the company’s leadership position across its businesses by 2015. Joly was replaced as CEO by Trudy Rautio, a 15-year senior executive at Carlson. Rautio became the second female CEO of the global hospitality company.
Strategic Hotels & Resorts announced in November that its founder and CEO, industry icon Laurence Geller, was stepping down from his post. The announcement also stated that Raymond L. Gellein, Jr., chairman of the company's Board of Directors would be taking over the leadership duties. Geller explained that he would remain a significant shareholder in Strategic Hotels & Resorts and that he valued his 15-year run with the company.
After nearly 20 years serving Kimpton Hotels, Niki Leondakis moved on from her position as president and chief operating officer to take on the role of CEO for Commune Hotels & Resorts. Commune is planning to grow its 46-hotel portfolio and is hoping to become a leading lifestyle brand in the hospitality industry. John Pritzker, co-chairman of Commune Hotels & Resorts said, “Having Niki partner with us at this time gives her a unique opportunity to impact all aspects of the company during a period of rapid expansion."
In February, Extended Stay Hotels announced that Jim Donald, the former CEO of Starbucks, would take over for Gary DeLapp as the leader of the hotel company based in Charlotte, N.C. Prior to joining Starbucks, Donald worked in executive positions with large-scale grocery companies including Walmart, Safeway, and Haagen Inc. Regarding his new position, Donald said, “We have the people, the assets, and the opportunities to take advantage of our market leading position and accelerate the company’s recent growth in the years ahead.”
A legend in the hospitality industry, Kurt Ritter served as the president and chief executive officer of the Rezidor Hotel Group since 1989. In September, Ritter announced that he would retire from his role at the end of the year. In 2013, Wolfgang M. Neumann, vice president and chief operating officer, will take over for Ritter as CEO of the company. Following the transition, Ritter will assist Neumann as an advisor during a three-month period and continue to serve as a key strategic advisor in the future. When the announcement was made, Ritter commented, “I was fortunate to live my dream. I always wanted to become an hotelier and, looking back on more than 35 great years. I met inspiring people, negotiated exciting deals, and always enjoyed working in the service industry."