Krister Svennson, Marriott International

Exclusive: Marriott appoints luxury leader to new dual role

Marriott International is sharpening its focus on luxury with the appointment of Krister Svensson as Multi Property Vice President, Luxury Hotels Australia and General Manager at W Melbourne.

In the newly created dual role, Svensson will take charge of operations at W Melbourne whilst also having oversight of all of Marriott’s luxury properties in Australia, including under the The Ritz-Carlton and W Hotel brands.

The appointment coincides with a focus on luxury expansion for Marriott, particularly in the Asia Pacific, a region that accounts for a third of Marriott International’s luxury hotels and over half of Marriott’s global pipeline.

A seasoned hotelier, Svensson brings more than thirty years’ experience in the hospitality industry across the Middle East, Pacific and Asia, specialising in luxury hotels. He began his career with Marriott International in 2002 as a General Manager in Le Meridien Commodore Beirut and he has since led the hotel teams at The Westin Resort Guam, W Hong Kong, St. Regis Bangkok, W Singapore Sentosa Cove and most recently, Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park where he has overseen all operations since 2019.

“We congratulate Krister Svensson on his appointment and have the utmost trust in his ability to lead our team of Associates at W Melbourne and across our Australian luxury portfolio,” said Marriott International Area Vice President – Australia, New Zealand and Pacific, Sean Hunt.

“Luxury hotels drive our highest profit margins and account for a significant portion of our group revenue, and as such are a major component of our expansion strategy.”

Krister Svennson, Marriott International

Exclusive Q&A: meet Marriott’s new VP of luxury hotels in Australia

At W Melbourne, Svensson will lead the team in reinvigorating the hotel as it prepares for a resurgence in business and leisure travel.

“I look forward to finessing the operations at W Melbourne establishing the hotel as a benchmark for our other luxury hotels,” said Svensson.

“Melbourne enjoys a reputation as Australia’s food and culture capital, and W Melbourne’s four incredible dining outlets present an opportunity to even further elevate the excellent position we’ve been able to retain for the hotel.

“With Warabi’s continued critical acclaim, the development of culinary talent in Lollo, and Curious remaining on the lists of best bars in Australia, we’re well poised to become one of Melbourne’s biggest players in luxury hospitality.”

Krister will also work closely with leaders across Marriott’s Australian hotels to drive Marriott’s legacy in luxury.

“Marriott International are masters of luxury. We are the global leaders because of our commitment to improving our standards, and our excellent custodianship of the brands we have, from The Ritz-Carlton to W Hotels,” said Svensson.

“Our focus will be on maintaining our strong collection of core luxury hotels to ensure that our 190 million global Marriott Bonvoy Members are able to go anywhere in the world and have a consistent luxury experience.”

Pro-invest bolsters sales and revenue capabilites

Pro-invest Group has appointed new leaders across sales, revenue and commercial performance.

Neerav Gorasia has been promoted to Director Hotel Performance for Pro-invest Hotels. Formerly Operations Excellence Manager since January 2023, Gorasia brings expertise from numerous senior finance and accounting positions within Mantra Group, Accor Hotels and Shangri-La, as well as leading the finance function at Sonic Healthcare.

Neerav Gorasia

Pro-invest Group is also scaling up its Revenue Centre capabilities to support all 32 Pro-invest Group and Vista Hospitality Group hotels and restaurants, through sales, marketing, and revenue management.

Mitchell Hacene has been promoted to the role of Senior Director of Sales – Luxury and Lifestyle Hotels Portfolio. An integral part of the pre-opening team at Kimpton Margot Sydney, Hacene excelled at a centralised sales director role. In his new position, he will drive the Luxury and Lifestyle sales team across Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, and New Zealand to increase sales opportunities.

Toby Yates, who first joined the company as Director of Sales for Hotel Indigo Melbourne Flinders, takes on the new role of Director of Sales – Luxury and Lifestyle Hotels Portfolio. With 25 years of sales and marketing experience in the luxury and lifestyle sector under his belt, Yates will focus on growing market share and delivering on sales targets from his Melbourne base. Hacene and Yates join Business Development Manager, Portfolio, Maddison Jones, and Director of Sales, New Zealand, Emma Nand, as a team of four focused on the Luxury and Lifestyle segment.

Mitchell Hacene

Tom Woods has been named Director of Commercial Performance at Pro-invest, after having joined the business two years ago to assist with the opening of Voco and Holiday Inn Express Auckland City Centre. In his new role, working closely with Gorasia, Woods will lead performance-driving enhancements across commercial functions.

Jasmin MacMillan has been promoted to the role of Director of Sales, Groups and Meetings, leading the newly established Groups and Meetings hub, and overseeing the Sales and Reservations teams both onshore and offshore. MacMillan, who joined the company in May 2021, brings  previous on-property experience, strong leadership skills and deep-industry knowledge which has proven a powerful combination in driving growth in the segment for the company.

Jasmin MacMillan

Raj Kamat and Joanna Millwater have joined the company as Portfolio Revenue Managers. Kamat’s 15-year hotel career spans operations, reservations, and commercial optimisation across the Asia Pacific region, including at EVT and Langham Hospitality. Millwater, a Canadian national, boasts a 20-year career in the hotel industry across reservations, revenue, yield, and distribution management, including at both boutique hotels and large chains. Her most recent roles were at Salter Brothers and View Hotels.

“These new appointments in our Revenue Centre team ensure we’re in commanding shape for 2024 to optimise the performance of our hotels across our expanding portfolio,” said Pro-invest Group’s Chief Operating Officer for Hotels, Shantha de Silva.

“We welcome Raj and Joanna to the team and congratulate Neerav, Mitchell, Toby, Jasmin and Tom on their new roles – it’s rewarding to recognise these industry specialists that are a great asset to the company and focused on delivering for both our guests and investors.”

Hilton Sydney welcomes new GM

Hilton Sydney has appointed Malcolm Zancanaro as the new General Manager of the hotel.

A seasoned hotelier with over 30 years of industry experience of management across flagship hotels, food and beverage and conferencing and events, Zancanaro has a track record of success in leading high-performance teams and delivering exceptional guest experiences.

Malcolm Zancanaro, Hilton Sydney Image credit:

Zancanaro takes over from Hayden Hughes who has relocated to Singapore to take up an internal promotion with the corporate team at Hilton International as Senior Director Brand Performance – Asia Pacific.

“I am excited to take on the role of General Manager at Hilton Sydney and appreciate the opportunity to lead such a capable and committed team that has achieved so much under the leadership of Hayden Hughes,” said Zancanaro.

“With a high reputation for quality service and unrivalled hospitality across its F&B spaces my initial goal is to further raise these high standards already synonymous with Hilton Sydney, while exploring avenues for further improvement in what is an increasingly competitive market for accommodation in the CBD.”

Zancanaro joins from InterContinental Hotels Group where he most recently held the role of Director of New Hotels – Australasia and Pacific.

Prior to this role, he spent over three decades with Hyatt in both hotel and corporate positions in Melbourne, Perth, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing and Sydney.

La Vie announces six appointments

Talal Ammari

La Vie Hotels and Resorts has kicked off 2024 with six new appointments.

Justin Furkhan

Talal Ammari has been appointed Regional Director of Sales, South and South East Asia; Justin Furkhan has been named Group Manager – Business Support and Hotel Openings; Issara Siripaisan is the new Senior Project and Design Manager; Jacob Batt is Business Development Manager; Mely Liu is Group Business Development Manager and Nicole Burg takes up the role of Business Development Executive.

Issara Siripaisan

“We’re thrilled to be boosting our management team with these six new appointments, some of which are internal promotions, as it underscores our capabilities and puts us in a leading position to be able to deliver to our owners what they desire from an owner centric hotel management company,” said La Vie Hotels and Resorts CEO, Jerry Xu.

Jacob Batt

“2024 will see us grow into new areas across Australia and also abroad, so it is important we have the skillset in-house to be able to facilitate our growth while maintaining the highest level of results for our existing stable of owners and partners.”

As Regional Director of Sales, South and South East Asia, based out of Bangkok, Ammari will be responsible for managing all sales functions for the region. He brings nearly two decades of hospitality experience, including expertise in identifying and capitalising on opportunities to build revenue.

Mely Liu

Furkhan will lead the pre-opening and conversion processes for all new hotel openings, with a focus on spearheading operational efforts. He brings leadership experience across luxury brands such as The Fullerton and InterContinental.

As Senior Project and Design Manager, Siripaisan serves as the primary point of contact for renovations, refurbishments, and new greenfield projects across the portfolio. Additionally, she will assist in evaluating potential projects such as hotel renovations and conversions for La Vie’s clients. She offers extensive knowledge of design processes, construction and hotel standards.

Nicole Burg

Three appointments to the Business Development team include the appointment of seasoned hospitality professional Mely Liu as Group Business Development Manager. She brings more than a decade of experience across commercial operations, revenue management, reservations, events management and operations. In this new role, she will be focused on developing new sales opportunities and building a robust sales platform whilst managing an assigned client base.

As Business Development Manager, Batt will be responsible for multiple Australian properties; while Burg will be responsible for supporting the commercial team as Business Development Executive.

Como names London MD

Como Hotels and Resorts welcomes Rory Slater as the new Managing Director, London, overseeing Como Metropolitan London and Como The Halkin from January 8, 2024.

Rory Slater

Throughout his 30-year career in luxury hospitality, Slater has held prominent leadership positions in the United States, United Kingdom and Asia.

Slater joins Como from Estelle Manor in Oxfordshire where he was General Manager.

“We are delighted to welcome Rory Slater to Como Hotels and Resorts,” said Como Hotels and Resorts, Chief Operating Officer, Ferdinand Wortelboer.

“His global experience and commitment to excellence align perfectly with the passion, creativity and style of Como. We look forward to an exciting chapter of growth and success under Rory’s leadership at Como Metropolitan London and Como The Halkin.”