THE WOODLANDS (Houston), Texas—Benchmark Hospitality International has announced the retirement of James Simkins, chief operating officer, Personal Luxury Resorts & Hotels collection.
“Following 42 years in the world that we refer to as hospitality, my active participation has come to an end,” Simkins said. “I welcome the opportunity to move on to attend to many areas of interest which have been in the background for a long time. This move has been motivated some years earlier than I had intended due to recent health challenges I’ve encountered.”
Commenting on the retirement of his friend and colleague, Burt Cabañas, Benchmark’s founder and chairman, stated, “James Simkins is a consummate hotelier of the world. He came up through the ranks like so many of us, was mentored by hotel executives who became legends in the industry, and left an indelible mark on the concepts in today’s hotels, and more importantly, how service is anticipated and delivered to guests. He had a transformative effect on Benchmark Hospitality’s new Personal Luxury Resorts & Hotels brand and on our company at multiple levels. I’m grateful for his remarkable commitment to the industry, and his leadership, which I value as a friend.”
Simkins launched his hospitality career with Westin Hotels & Resorts, eventually serving in a number of senior leadership assignments across the globe. These included The Carlton in South Africa, Kowloon Shangri-La in Hong Kong, and The Westin Bonaventure in Los Angeles, where he served as Manager and then Managing Director.
Success in California brought him to The Westin Tokyo, and he was invited to open the property as managing director and to also assume corporate responsibilities as vice president operations for Westin International Asia Pacific. He completed a 28-year tenure with Westin in Australia, building and opening the Westin Sydney for the 2000 Olympics.
Simkins returned to the United States to take a partnership position with the newly developed MTM Luxury Lodging, a creative hotel management company specializing in the innovative and profitable operation of luxury boutique properties in the Pacific Northwest.
He joined Benchmark Hospitality International upon the company’s purchase of MTM Luxury Lodging in 2011, immediately assuming a leadership position on Benchmark’s executive team and the company’s board of directors. He was appointed chief operating officer for the Personal Luxury Resorts & Hotels collection, which was in its infancy in brand development and now included the MTM Luxury Lodging properties James knew so well. In his new role, Simkins was largely responsible for the evolution of Benchmark’s new Personal Luxury brand, and its growth to include 12 hotels and resorts.