CHICAGO—The Board of Directors of Strategic Hotels & Resorts, Inc. announced today that Laurence S. Geller is stepping down as president and chief executive officer and member of the Company's Board of Directors, effective immediately. Raymond L. Gellein, Jr., chairman of the Company's Board of Directors, will assume the additional role of chief executive officer. Mr. Geller will serve in an advisory role to Mr. Gellein until the end of the year. In addition, the Company today reaffirmed its full-year guidance.
"Laurence has led the creation of an outstanding hotel company, replete with some of the world's most enviable hotels and a deep management team of accomplished professionals," said Mr. Gellein, in an announcement. "He instilled a legacy of ingenuity and disciplined execution that drives both company and hotel performance which will serve Strategic Hotels well into the future. On behalf of the entire Board of Directors, I thank him for his numerous contributions and wish him all the best in his future endeavors."
Geller said: "It has been an immense source of pride over the past 15 years to have founded Strategic Hotels and to have worked with a terrific team to build not only the acknowledged best high-end lodging portfolio, but also the most admired asset management organization in the industry. We have emerged from the recession a strong company with great assets well positioned for sustained growth in a virtually no-supply environment. And with the recent addition of the iconic JW Marriott Essex House New York, the Company has re-established its East Coast presence. I remain a significant shareholder of the Company and hold it in the highest regard."
Gellein has been a member of the Company's Board of Directors since August 2009 and has served as its chairman since August 2010. A proven leader with deep operational and financial expertise in the public lodging industry, Gellein is intimately ingrained in both the development and execution of the Company's strategic plan. Previously, he was president of the global development group for Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide and, before that, was the director, chairman and chief executive officer of Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc. Gellein also served as chairman and co-chief executive officer of Vistana, Inc. Gellein's assumption of the CEO role is consistent with the Company's succession plan.
Geller, 64, has been the CEO of Strategic Hotels since it was founded in 1997 and has a long career in the lodging industry spanning more than 45 years. He has made many contributions to the industry, having authored more than 50 published professional articles, is a frequent lecturer at various universities and industry events, and has held leadership positions in some of the industry's most influential associations. He is a dedicated humanitarian, and was recently named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) by her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.