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Germany's Kempinski Group has chosen Martin R. Smura to be its CEO, effective July 1. He succeeds Markus Semer, who is departing the company after three years at the helm.

Martin R. Smura
Martin R. Smura

Prior to joining Kempinski, Smura was executive chairman of the board for Dorint Hotel Group. He has also previously held a seat on the board of Russian hospitality group Azimut Hotels , as well as the chairmanship of the board of directors for Adlon Holding. In the earlier part of his career, Smura spent 15 years with InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG), earning the distinction of becoming the company's youngest regional general manager at age 30.

Kempinski's portfolio comprises 77 luxury hotels and residences across 34 countries.

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Roni Astrachan
Roni Astrachan

Roni Astrachan has been appointed Southwest regional sales director for Avanti Destinations. Based in Los Angeles, she will work with travel advisors in Southern California, southern Nevada and Hawaii. A 30-year veteran of the travel industry , the Israel-born Astrachan began her career working for two Israeli escorted tour operators, Natour and Geographical Tours, before coming to the Los Angeles area. Most recently, she was the West Coast business development manager for New York City-based Travel Bound.

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The Alaska Air Group has named Andrea Schneider senior vice president of people for Alaska Airlines. With the integration of Alaska Air and Virgin America complete, Schneider's top focus will be to foster the carrier's unified culture. She will also continue to lead employee benefits, compensation, training and development, recruiting and employee travel for Alaska and its regional carrier, Horizon Air.

Schneider previously served as Alaska's vice president of in-flight and call center services.

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Scott Laurence has been promoted to head of revenue and planning for JetBlue.

In his new post, Laurence will oversee the carrier's sales and revenue management organization. Laurence most recently served as JetBlue's senior vice president, airline planning.

In addition, JetBlue has promoted Don Uselmann to the position of vice president, loyalty and personalization.

Uselmann will be responsible for continuing to evolve the carrier's loyalty program, TrueBlue, and for establishing the airline's customer relationship marketing strategy, including greater product personalization. He most recently served as JetBlue's director of airport operations at New York JFK.

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Miguel Carrillo
Miguel Carrillo

Miguel Carrillo is the new vice president of global sales and marketing at Miami-based Brickell Travel Management. Carrillo has worked for Four Seasons Hotel and Resorts in the U.S. and Latin America for the past 19 years, overseeing global sales and marketing, servicing corporations, wholesalers and agencies in the Americas. Before that, he held operations positions with British Airways, Continental Airlines and LTA Airlines.

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Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection has filled a number of leadership positions as the luxury resort prepares for its debut on the Big Island of Hawaii later this year.

Chris White
Chris White

Chris White has been chosen to serve as senior director of marketing, leading the sales and marketing efforts at the property. White had been senior director of hotel marketing for the Auberge Resorts Collection and in the past has held positions with St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort, Laguna Niguel; Four Seasons Resort Hualalai on the Big Island; St. Regis Princeville Resort, Kauai; and the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, British Columbia.

Mika Hara, who will serve as senior director of revenue strategy, brings over 25 years of hospitality experience to her new position. Most recently she was director of revenue and yield management at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai for the past seven years. Prior experience includes leadership roles with the Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco, Four Seasons Hotel Beverly Wilshire, Four Seasons Resort Maui and Grand Wailea Resort.

Michelle Edwards, the new director of public relations and communications, is a 13-year luxury hospitality veteran who joins the Mauna Lani team from Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, where she served as a strategic communications consultant for the luxury brand.

Robin Killett will fill the role of director of sales for Mauna Lani. Her career spans almost 30 years, including 23 years with Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts and Ritz-Carlton.

Elisa Pak
Elisa Pak

Elisa Pak has been named director of leisure sales. She comes aboard after serving as senior regional sales manager with Four Seasons Resorts Hawaii, which included properties on Maui, Lanai, Hawaii Island, and Oahu.

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The Willard InterContinental Hotel welcomed aboard Ernie Arias as its director of sales and marketing, marking his return to the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). Arias began his hospitality career with as the director of sales and marketing of IHG's Crowne Plaza Houston-Brookhollow and returns to the fold with more than 20 years of related experience.

Ernie Arias
Ernie Arias

Arias spent a number of years with the Hyatt Corp., first serving as director of sales and marketing at the Park Hyatt Chicago and later as area director of sales and marketing before moving on to stints at the Park Hyatt Washington and the Park Hyatt New York. He was most recently senior vice president of sales and business development at another landmark Washington property, the Watergate Hotel.

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Jeffrey Anderson and Michael Anderson have been promoted to co-presidents of Avoya Travel. Each had previously been executive vice president. Brad Anderson, previously president, moves up to co-founder, joining his brother Van Anderson.

Brad Anderson will focus on long-range strategic planning, fostering industry relationships and supporting the executive team at Avoya.

Ashley Hunter becomes senior vice president of strategic operations and partnerships, having previously served as vice president of business development. Steve Hirshan was advanced to senior vice president of sales from senior vice president of sales support.

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Booking Holdings has named Sue D'Emic senior vice president, chief accounting officer and controller. Most recently, D'Emic was Time Inc.'s executive vice president and CFO. In her new role, she will oversee tax, external reporting and corporate accounting teams, reporting to CFO and executive vice president David Goulden.

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American has promoted Alice Curry to vice president of customer care. In her new role, Curry will oversee the carrier's reservations, central baggage resolution and customer relations departments.

Curry joined American in 1996 and most recently served as managing director of customer loyalty and insights.

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JetBlue has promoted Michael Stromer to chief product officer, technology.

In the role, Stromer will coordinate strategy and product oversight across the airline's digital and IT products.
Stromer joined JetBlue in 2007 and served most recently as vice president tech products.

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Melissa C. Thomas-Hunt
Melissa C. Thomas-Hunt

Airbnb has tapped former Vanderbilt University administrator Melissa C. Thomas-Hunt to fill the role of head of global diversity and belonging. Thomas-Hunt will be charged with overseeing strategy and execution of internal diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging programs for Airbnb's employees. She will also advise Airbnb on initiatives like its Airbnb Community Commitment and Open Doors policies, which are designed to protect against discrimination.

Thomas-Hunt most recently served as Vanderbilt's vice provost for inclusive excellence. Prior to her work at Vanderbilt, she served as global chief diversity officer at the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business.

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Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts appointed Ben Trodd to the role of senior vice president of sales and hotel marketing, consolidating the hotel marketing, hotel sales and worldwide sales office teams under a single leader.
Trodd has been with Four Seasons since 1995. Recently, he served as regional vice president and general manager of the Beverly Wilshire, Beverly Hills in California. Last June, Trodd took on the role of senior vice president of global sales.

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The Vanderbilt, Auberge Resorts Collection, in Newport, R.I., has chosen Massimiliano Puglisi to serve as general manager of the historical mansion-turned-hotel.

A seasoned hotelier, Puglisi brings nearly 20 years of experience to the position. Most recently, he served as hotel manager at the Carlyle, a Rosewood Hotel, a landmark property on New York's Upper East Side. Prior to that he was interim managing director at the luxury Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco resort, an estate in Montalcino in Italy's Tuscany region.

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Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas named Rebecca Soloff director of sales and marketing at Six Senses New York, the group's first North American property, which is currently under development. She joins Six Senses following a posting as director of sales and marketing at the Mark Hotel, New York.

Soloff's 17 years of experience in sales and marketing includes stints with the New York Palace Hotel and the Lowell Hotel, New York, where she rose to the title of director of sales and marketing.

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American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) has named Gerardo Tejado general manager of its American Express Meetings & Events division.

He replaces Issa Jouaneh, who left the company to pursue other interests.

Tejado was most recently GBT's vice president and general manager for Latin America and the Caribbean. That team and operation will now be overseen by David Reimer, senior vice president and general manager for the Americas.

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Frank Naeve has been named Lufthansa Group's vice president of sales for the Americas. In the role, Naeve will spearhead sales in North and South America for the group's six airlines; Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian, Eurowings, Edelweiss and Brussels Airlines. He'll also manage commercial cooperation between Lufthansa and joint venture partners United and Air Canada. Naeve has worked 30 years at Lufthansa, most recently as vice president of Asia Pacific for Lufthansa Cargo.

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The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort has named Robert M. Allen

hotel manager. He will oversee operations of the 2,270-room property. Allen brings over 40 years of hospitality experience to the position, spent in a variety of management positions with Marriott International. He most recently was the general manager of the largest hotel in Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown Hotel. Previously, Allen has held the positions of area general manager and general manager of the Greenbelt Marriott; general manager of the UMUC Marriott Hotel and Conference Center and hotel manager of the Crystal Gateway and Crystal City Marriott hotels.

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Have an announcement you'd like to see included in Friends & Colleagues? Submit your stories and photos to Gerry Bourbeau, Travel Weekly deputy managing editor, at [email protected]

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