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Changing of the guard in Queenstown

Lynne McVicar (L) and Jo Finnigan (R) - Photo credit Dan Childs

One of Queenstown’s most enduring professional working relationships is coming to an end as a new chapter unfolds.

Jo Finnigan has been appointed the new General Manager of Queenstown’s Hotel St Moritz as hospitality and accommodation stalwart Lynne McVicar departs after 18 years at the property.

Jo steps into the role after having spent the last 16 years as Lynne’s trusted ‘right-hand-man’, as theDirector of Sales, Distribution and Marketing.

Departing General Manager Lynne McVicar has resigned her two decades-long and distinguished career with AccorHotels following a life changing year in 2015 dealing with and overcoming breast cancer.

In her absence, Jo Finnigan assumed an Acting General Manager position.

With that challenge behind her, Mrs McVicar is embarking on a new journey, working with St Moritz owner and original developer Graham Wilkinson, who built the property in 1998.

Mrs McVicar will work for Wilkinson focussing on his portfolio of hotel and retirement village assets, and ensuring that while she has stepped down from her GM role she hasn’t completely left the building.

Hotel St Moritz General Manager Jo Finnigan says she is “hugely looking forward” to driving the next chapter for St Moritz and to continue Lynne’s outstanding legacy for AccorHotels.

“Having kept Lynne’s seat warm last year during her leave of absence, I’m thrilled to remain at the helm of this very special property,” she says.

“I like to think that while I bring a fresh perspective to the table, I’ll be the natural custodian of our deep-rooted and special culture here at St Moritz – one that’s become integral to our guest experience.

“We’re already planning the next wave of reinvestment for the hotel, 2016 presenting us with another opportunity to continue the hotel’s evolution.”

Mrs McVicar and Mrs Finnigan’s iconic ‘working mum’ relationship has gone from strength to strength over the past 16 years, including forging the strongest family ties with their four children (two each) attending both Queenstown Primary and Wakatipu High School, and remaining the best of friends.

The successful duo have been a force to be reckoned with over the years – the dynamos behind the hotel’s numerous Tourism Award wins, including the prestigious Distinction Award. In New Zealand they also represent “Women at Accor Generation” – a network focussed on career progression for women within the AccorHotels group.

Departing General Manager Lynne McVicar says St Moritz s “extremely fortunate” to have someone of Jo’s calibre driving the next part of the hotel’s journey.

“Her commercial acumen, attention to detail and passion for the business are second to none,” she says.
“She’s a respected professional with an incredible and supportive team behind her; they truly are a powerful combination.”

While Mrs McVicar admitted it was hard to leave, she says she’s “delighted” that she will still have an association with the hotel.

“I’m excited for the future of St Moritz under her leadership,” she said.

“After 20 years working with Accor and 18 years since I started working with Hotel St Moritz in its development stage, it’s been an incredibly emotional decision for me to resign,” she says.

“Handing the reins over to Jo is truly the most perfect closure.”

St Moritz Management director Graham Wilkinson said St Moritz was “incredibly fortunate” to have retained Lynne as general manager for nearly two decades.

“Lynne is an icon in New Zealand hospitality and her guidance and mentoring of talent is her real legacy,” he says.

“She’s nurtured and inspired countless employees who’ve spread throughout the world and many believe they owe their success to the values she’s imparted.

“Queenstown is about to experience a period of hotel trading that will eclipse anything seen in the past,” he says. “Jo has been a key member of a highly-experienced hotel team and will ensure the hotel’s ‘spirit of generosity’ continues and is enhanced.

“With her sales and marketing background, she’s perfectly placed to maximise all opportunities.”

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