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Sharon Hirschowitz

Global Head of Media & Communications
Sharon Hirschowitz
Sharon Hirschowitz is the editor of the ILHA's magazine, Luxury Hoteliers, and is involved in content creation across all of the ILHA's platforms. She heads up the curation of the ILHA's INSPIRE conference, taking place internationally, as well as in the United States, creating the agenda and securing senior hospitality experts to speak on trending topics. As fashion editor, she was part of the launch team for the South African edition of the New York-based InStyle magazine. Prior to that, she was involved in the conception, production, styling and art direction of all instore posters, magazine ads, mailers, and television ads for Truworths, a South African department store with multiple brands, and took part in the Rooi Rose Supermodel event as a sponsor, covering it in the inhouse magazine. She has a BA English and Journalism diploma from the University of Cape Town.
Insights by Sharon Hirschowitz

SPOTLIGHT ON Tomás Feier General Manager – Disneyland Hotel – Paris at The Walt Disney Company

Tomás Feier talks about his life in hotels.

I’m the fourth generation of my family to work in hotels. I was born in a hotel, and I lived my entire life as a kid in the hotel with staff that cared so much about me. So it was obvious that I would pursue a life in hotels. There were some distractions: my older brother had a model train which he drove through different landscapes and I said to myself: “This is great, I need to be a locomotive driver, because I could have a frequent change of scenery, which was something that I felt I needed to have in the future – but I realised that I could this in the hotel sector.

SPOTLIGHT ON Jorge Munoz, Co-Founder of Stay One Degree

Quick to respond to the change in consumer behavior during the pandemic, Stay One Degree focused on personalized local experiences and curating specialized packages with Mandarin Oriental in Miami. Guests are requesting longer stays and travel is anticipated to rebound strongly in 2022 with bucket-list trips, family gatherings and FOLO.

SPOTLIGHT ON Elizabeth Andrews, General Manager, The Opus, Westchester

Andrews is a former modern dancer, studying dance at Cornell University and choreographed and performed new works in New York City for many years. Her hospitality career began as a front desk agent at 60 Thompson (now SIXTY SoHo) where she moved her way up the ranks to General Manager over the course of ten years. She has since held General Manager roles at multiple boutique hotel properties where she combines her passions and expertise in luxury hospitality, creativity and art.

SPOTLIGHT ON Arshad Mohan, Director of Revenue at Movenpick Resort, Kuredhivaru Maldives, Accor

The role of revenue management has been transformed as it leads the hotel industry out of the pandemic, alongside technology. Arshad Mohan explores new best practices, changes within consumer relationships, and the need for hotels to control their own distribution network.

SPOTLIGHT ON David Goldstone, Chief Customer Advocate and Senior Vice President, World Cinema

As technology innovations lead the way out of the pandemic, David Goldstone tells us how their strategy made them stronger and more customer-focused, while introducing new tech services and solutions that will add to the guest experience.

SPOTLIGHT ON- Kenton Jones BVI Regional Manager, Virgin Limited Edition

Necker Island has recently completed a full renovation after the destruction of hurricane Irma and is ready to bounce back after the pandemic with safety protocols and a dream destination folks have been looking forward to after a long hard year.

SPOTLIGHT ON Alex Sogno, CEO & Senior Hotel Asset Manager, Global Asset Solutions

As European Chapter Head of the International Luxury hotel Association and founder of Global Asset Solutions, which provides hotel asset management for 50+ hotels worldwide, Alex shares his insight on how to optimize operations and capital efficiencies of hotels to drive revenue and investment returns for owners and investors.

SPOTLIGHT ON Patrick Huey, Vice President, Spa & Retail, Montage International and Chairman of the Board, ISPA

Patrick shares his experience dealing with the challenges of the last year and how wellness and mental health are now essential as we emerge out of scarcity and relearn how to connect.

SPOTLIGHT ON Cecilia Hercik, Director of Spa and Wellness, Sea Island

The Spa at Sea Island is a Forbes Five-Star destination resort in Georgia, US that has an award-winning 65,000 square-foot spa and fitness center and is the only resort in the world to have received four Forbes Five-Star awards for 13 consecutive years.

Spotlight On Dan McGowan, General Manager, Fairmont Empress

Fairmont Empress Hotel sits proudly at the centre of culture and history in Victoria, British Columbia. This is the best of all worlds – where contrast meets distinction, opulence blends harmoniously with the understated and fabled history meshes with contemporary affairs. One of the oldest hotels in Victoria and a National Historic Site built in 1908, this grand dame is an alluring blend of classic and contemporary, vintage and cutting-edge.

SPOTLIGHT ON Amanda Elder, Chief Commercial Officer and Member of the Management Board Kempinski Hotels

Kempinski Hotels have moved with agility and flexibility during the pandemic to minimize the impact on both business and staff as well as build a strategic plan for the future. Amanda talks about how they have remained engaged with their guests and the opening of Kempinski Palace Engelberg in June.

SPOTLIGHT ON Patrick Huey, Vice President, Spa & Retail, Montage International and Chairman of the Board, ISPA

Patrick shares his experience dealing with the challenges of the last year and how wellness and mental health are now essential as we emerge out of scarcity and relearn how to connect.

SPOTLIGHT ON Richard Brekelmans, Southern Europe Vice President, Marriott International

A positive view of the return of leisure travel as Europe still battles the pandemic and unpredictable markets. However, it is clear that although consumer behavior has changed, there is strong demand as soon as it is possible to travel.

SPOTLIGHT ON Shannon Knapp, President & CEO, The Leading Hotels of the World

LHW recently announced the addition of eight new members to their portfolio and has an anticipated 13 new builds across the world in 2021. Shannon Knapp is optimistic about the recovery of luxury travel and tells us about where she is seeing demand and how the pandemic has influenced consumer behavior.

SPOTLIGHT ON Diego Angarita, General Manager of Four Seasons Resort and Residences Anguilla

Anguilla has been protected from COVID by creating a bubble and closing their borders. While this held the pandemic at bay it has consequences for the travel industry. Diego Angarita tells us how they have weathered the storm and are positive for the future.

SPOTLIGHT ON Nils-Arne Schroeder, Global Brand Head, Conrad Hotels & Resorts and Head of Luxury & Lifestyle, Asia Pacific

Hilton launched their CleanStay this summer and has focused on meeting the ever-changing needs of their guests, introducing WorkSpaces by Hilton for those that need a quiet alternative to home. Nils-Arne also talks about exciting new projects in the pipeline and the long term influence the pandemic will have on luxury travel.

SPOTLIGHT ON Javier Hortal, SVP Design & Development, Middle East & Europe, sbe Corporate London

Javier expands on new projects they are working on in Dubai, France, and London, as well as a resort project in Sardinia, reminding us that the attention needs to be on how design facilitates a superior guest experience, and not just on the design itself.

SPOTLIGHT ON Niamh O’Connell, Group Vice President – Wellness and Brand Experience, Rosewood Hotel Group

Niamh tells us how Rosewood has prioritized the shifting needs of guests, creating virtual support programs, wellness sabbaticals interwoven with workcations, and a 24-hour intensive immersion program designed to reset one’s circadian rhythm and promote sleep.

SPOTLIGHT ON Feisal Jaffer, Global Head of LXR Hotels & Resorts, Hilton

Feisal gives an indepth look at how Hilton has been rising to the challenges of the pandemic, the policies and procedures they have put in place to make their guests and staff feel safe as well as their Hilton EventReady program for event planners.

SPOTLIGHT ON Russell Kett, Chairman, HVS, London

Russell joined HVS in 1995 and was appointed managing director in 1996, becoming chairman in 2012. He has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from HOSPA, the hospitality professionals’ association, in 2011, and the ‘Hall of Fame’ Lifetime Achievement Award at the Hot.E hotel investment conference in London in 2017. He shares his thoughts on the long term effects of the pandemic and strategies to survive.

SPOTLIGHT ON Gregory Maliassas, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Playa Resorts Management

We worked very hard with our hotel teams to be able to ensure that despite the fact that our safety protocols would have been crucial to a successful reopening, the guest experience would not be inferior because of those protocols.

SPOTLIGHT ON Jason Kruse, General Manager at Amilla Maldives Resort and Residences and The Small Maldives Island Company

When the borders to the Maldives closed Jason and his team decided to use the time to take advantage of their setting and get creative with some innovative projects that include sustainable superfood gardening, a jungle gymnasium, “Cluckinghampalace” and more.

SPOTLIGHT ON Mathias Cocuron, Regional Director of Finance, Four Season Hotel London at Park Lane

Mathias gives us an insight into the thoughtful process behind their reopening strategies and the creative initiatives they have put in place to reduce costs and take care of their staff.

SPOTLIGHT ON Stephen Meredith, General Manager, Taj Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai

Taj Hotels, a subsidiary of the Indian Hotels Company, expanded into the Middle East with the opening of its second hotel, Taj Jumeirah Lakes Towers. Stephen Meredith tells us how the 200 room hotel with views of the Emirates Golf Club, Dubai Marina and the Arabian Gulf, are prepared and ready for their guests.

The Future of Hotel Design

The International Luxury Hotel Association’s NorthEast Chapter hosted a webinar on The Future of Design where they discussed how they have had to respond to the crisis in current projects and adapt with innovative solutions and technologies while placing a renewed value on vendor relationships as we all face a pandemic reality.

SPOTLIGHT ON Elizabeth Blau, Founder & CEO of Blau + Associates

Elizabeth reinvented the Las Vegas culinary scene, transforming it into a lively experience with celebrity chefs and world-class dining. Her clients include New York’s Rainbow Room, Montage Resorts, Ritz Carlton Hotels and Resorts, Netjets, Celebrity Cruises, Trump Casinos, and Viceroy Hotels, to mention a few. She also moderated The International Luxury Hotel Association’s webinar on the Future of F&B, facilitating a discussion with experts on real-life challenges in an unprecedented time.

SPOTLIGHT ON Roland Fasel, Chief Operating Officer, Aman

Offering guests a sanctuary that is safe but still retains the DNA of the Aman brand is at the forefront of the group’s philosophy as they navigate the new travel landscape. Advice: your staff are at the center of everything you do. Focus on the elements you can control to offer genuine, heartfelt hospitality.

SPOTLIGHT ON Sebastien Silvestri, CEO, The Dinex Group

It is inspiring to see such a dynamic and purposeful approach to a catastrophic event. Sebastien talks about Chef Daniel’s generosity towards his team and first responders as his restaurants closed. He also outlines their plan for the future, with safety a priority and innovative ideas to keep guests entertained.

SPOTLIGHT ON Jerry Henry, CEO of H2R Market Research

What factors are travelers using to determine whether it is safe to travel and how is this influencing their travel behavior? Market research by H2R Market Research gives a glimpse into the state of the traveler’s mind as they navigate their own journey through the health crisis that is having a profound affect on the luxury hotel sector.

SPOTLIGHT ON Ofra Gelman, Principal, Dwell Design Studio

Ofra’s first project was the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas followed by the design and construction of the Mirage Conference Center. Both had no budget nor deadline. She has since had a reality check and has done extensive work on both hotels and mixed-use projects. The ILHA asked her how COVID-19 has affected the design industry and its influence for years to come.

SPOTLIGHT ON David T’Kint, Principle of HBA EMEA

A glimpse into the future as COVID-19 challenges hotel design to be more sustainable and relevant, moving agiley to reflect the importance of wellness, privacy and space. David T’Kint, who has worked on some of the most prestigious hotel brands, including the Great Scotland Yard in London’s Whitehall, talks about how this will be reflected in the aesthetic experience.

The Future of F&B

Elizabeth Blau, Founder & CEO of Blau+Associates moderated the International Luxury Hotel Association’s webinar on The Future of F&B, with panelists Santi Rodriguez, Operations Director, Nobu Hotels, Sebastien Silvestri, CEO, Dinex, Steven Kamali, Founder, Hospitality House, and Daniel Hostettler, President, Relais & Châteaux, North America & Group Managing Director, OHM Collection.

SPOTLIGHT ON Euan McGlashan, Global Co-founder & Chief Executive Officer, Valor Hospitality Partners

Valor Hospitality has been raising the bar on guest experience, investing, owning and operating hotels worldwide that have a unique story to tell, from luxury safari lodges in Africa to the recent acquisition of the Kimpton hotel The Rouge in DC. Euan McGlashan has led the way.

SPOTLIGHT ON Arlene Coke, Director Accounting, Treasure & Strategic Relationship, Club Med

Sustainability is more than a trend, it’s a way of life that the luxury hospitality industry is investing both its time and resources into towards a better future for the next generation and our planet. Arlene tells us about Club Med’s sustainability initiatives, their challenges, and the importance of having the right partners who also want to do the right thing.

SPOTLIGHT ON Joël RANDRIAMANDRANTO, Minister of Transport, Tourism, and Meteorology, Madagascar

The minister spoke at the International Luxury Hotel Association’s INSPIRE’19 Summit in Miami about how their new government has made tourism a priority and are attracting travelers to visit the beautiful island to explore their unique natural resources.

Navigating Today’s Hotel Financing & Transaction Environment

The International Luxury Hotel Association (ILHA) hosted its second in a series of timely and topical webinars, hosted by the NorthEast Chapter, with Navigating Today’s Hotel Financing & Transaction Environment.

SPOTLIGHT ON Martin Smura, CEO, Kempinski

Appointed as CEO in 2019, Mr. Smura talks about the group’s expansion internationally, as well as their first property in New York, situated close to Rockefeller Center. At the heart of this growth are the Kempinski Brand Standards that set the tone for personalized guest service along the entire journey.

SPOTLIGHT ON Azadeh Hawkins, Creative Director, Montage International

Azadeh will be speaking on the Partnerships – Expand your Narrative panel at the International Luxury Hotel Association’s INSPIRE’19 event where she will share how she lead the Pendry Hotels & Resorts’ collaboration with like-minded partners and also Montage International, to create unique experiences for their guests.

SPOTLIGHT ON Bridgit Tran, Vice President, Global Digital Strategies & Innovation, Nobu

Bridget will be talking about how hoteliers need to change their approach to Digital Revenue Optimization to a profit-forward strategy at the International Luxury Hotel Association’s INSPIRE’19 summit. Here she explains her thinking behind this concept, along with how she has lead phase 1 of their new adaptive website.

SPOTLIGHT ON Alex S. Furrer, General Manager, The Setai, Miami Beach

Alex has spent the last seven years at The Setai, Miami Beach, leading the Quality and Training program that earned them the 2015 Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Award. Guest Satisfaction, loyalty and developing new business with high profile partnerships like Art Basel Miami Beach are key components to his successful leadership of the 90-room hotel, 40 luxury suites and the 125-unit residences.

SPOTLIGHT ON Jaclyn Riley, Hospitality Brand Marketing & Communications Consultant

We caught up with our INSPIRE ‘19 emcee Jaclyn Riley, a hospitality brand marketing and communications consultant who launched Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants internationally after overseeing all communications for the hotels and resorts in the Eastern U.S. and the Caribbean.

SPOTLIGHT ON Deborah Yager Fleming, CEO and partner of Acqualina Resort and Spa on the beach

Deborah joined the Acqualina pre-opening team in 2004 and in 2011 she became a partner in the hotel with ownership interest. She has been the driving force behind their Forbes Five Star Award and AAA Five Diamond award, and heads the hotel’s Executive Committee, seeing the brands long term strategies through from conception to execution.

SPOTLIGHT ON Jean-Pierre Lacroix, President, SLD

Jean-Pierre is a visionary design thinker who is dedicated to working with retail brands on interpreting the latest trends for their business and creating strategies that have measurable results. He will be discussing the future at the ILHA’s event in Miami and shares some detail on his talk as well as mistakes brands make when defining their future.

SPOTLIGHT ON Beth Campbell, CEO of Wilson Associates

Beth spoke at the International Luxury Hotel Association’s INSPIRE’18 Summit in Las Vegas on Creating Experience Through Design and highlighted trends that they have incorporated in recent projects. She has over 25 years of experience in global design and has worked on a diverse portfolio of luxury projects that include the Renaissance Xi’an Hotel in China, the Skye Niseko in Japan, Four Seasons Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, the Elysium Hotel in Paphos, Cyprus, and the Marriott Taghazout Bay opening in Morocco late 2019.

SPOTLIGHT ON David Varley, Vice President – Food & Beverage, Canyon Ranch

How can you not get excited listening to David talk about his passion for plant-facing cuisine and inspiring guests to take their recipes home? A trendsetter in the luxury hospitality food & beverage realm, he is dedicated to leading the way to wellness through the art of healthy eating.

SPOTLIGHT ON Stowe Shoemaker, Dean, Harrah College of Hospitality, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Stowe was kind enough to host the International Luxury Hotel Association’s launch party for our INSPIRE’18 Summit in Las Vegas at their brand new campus and also moderate the session Insights from the Asset Managers with Romy Bhojwani and David Israel from HotelAVE. His passion for the process of learning and hospitality is palatable and inspiring as he constantly strives to transform the student experience.

SPOTLIGHT ON Do Van Dan, Founder & CEO of Elegance Hospitality Group, Vietnam

A true story of simple beginnings, hard work and a passion for the hotel world that started with a Receptionist position in a 4-star hotel in Hanoi. Do Van Dan understands the importance of guest experience and places it at the core of their philosophy.

SPOTLIGHT ON Robert Cima, Regional Vice President and General Manager, Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, California

So, we look at how you can get your community to adopt you, how do you become the mousetrap that everyone is attracted to. You need to have great therapists, we don’t hire anyone unless they have 2,000 hours on the table.

SPOTLIGHT ON David Goldstone, President for the Americas, DigiValet

Mood lighting, themed wake up and drapes slowly opening to a set wake up are other innovations that we are proud of. This leads me into personalization – at the luxury and ultra-luxury level where more than 80% are returning guests, hotels today put tremendous effort into remembering their guest preferences – our technology makes this seamless for a hotel, whether it be their desired room temperature, pillow preference, TV channels or dining requests.

SPOTLIGHT ON Ellis O’Connor, Co-President and Asset Manager, MSD Hospitality

As Co-Founder and Co-President of MSD Hospitality, Ellis O’Connor has an impressive portfolio of properties under his leadership, including the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai and the Hualalai Resort, both on the Big Island of Hawaii, and the Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows in Santa Monica California.

SPOTLIGHT ON Jonathan Pogash, President & Owner, The Cocktail Guru

Educator and consultant for bars, restaurants, and well-known beverage brands, and voted “Best Craft Cocktails of New England” by Yankee Magazine, Jonathan Pogash tells us how hotels are getting it right, where he can work with them on improving their bar program and highlights trends for 2018.

SPOTLIGHT ON NADINE SYKORA, Travel Influencer – Top Travel Vlogger

Nadine Sykora has some impressive statistics behind her. She is the top travel influencer and travel videographer on Youtube having made over 800 videos gaining 40 million+ views. Here, she talks about identifying the right travel blogger for your property and how to build a successful partnership where both of you benefit.

SPOTLIGHT ON Roland Herlory, Chief Executive Officer Vilebrequin

The story behind the French luxury swimwear brand, Vilebrequin, is dreamy, spirited and inspirational. Their dedication to true style, quality, and an endless summer comes across in their vibrant prints and interesting collaborations. In this interview, Roland Herlory dips into their story, successful partnerships, and the way forward.

SPOTLIGHT ON Christian Glauser Benz, Vice President, Development & Acquisitions, Dream Hotel Group

Christian Glauser Benz heads up the expansion of Dream Hotels across all regions with a focus on the South-East US, Latin America, and the Caribbean. The brand is pushing the boundaries of guest experience, incorporating so many of the much talked about hotel trends and focusing on the guest, their journey, and their dream.

SPOTLIGHT ON Jonathan Blue, Chairman & Managing Director, Blue Equity

Bringing sophisticated technology and self-sustaining infrastructure to a remote island destination is no mean feat. Jonathan Blue takes us through the exciting journey of creating an ultra-luxury, self-sustaining paradise resort in the jungle.

SPOTLIGHT ON Geoffrey Toffetti, President, Frontline Performance Group

Geoffrey Toffetti began his career in hospitality as a valet, eventually working his way up to Director of Guest services for Fortune Hotels in St. Petersburg Beach, FL (now the Tradewinds Island Grand). During his tenure, he learned the true nature of service, and how to achieve outstanding revenue performance while providing world-class guest experiences.

SPOTLIGHT ON: Tom Marchant, Owner, and Co-Founder of The Black Tomato Group

Tom prefers to do things differently, and The Black Tomato Group is an extension of his philosophy, creating bespoke travel experiences that start with the dream and discover the destination on the way. Here he talks about truly connecting, engaging and creating experiences that are transformative, and tells us about some favorite travel destinations you’ll want to visit.

SPOTLIGHT ON Daniel Hostettler, President and Group Managing Director at OHM Collection, Relais & Châteaux

Daniel Hostettler talks about Relais & Château’s dedication to both their guests and the environment when exploring culinary trends, or, as he prefers, culinary convictions. As President and Managing Director of Ocean House since the development of the resort in 2009, he has played a pivotal role in the exceptional and sincere performance of Ocean House and its two sister properties, the Weekapaug Inn and Watch Hill Inn.