PEOPLE update as of April 9, 2019

Hospitality community loses Walter Oster. David Kong celebrates 15 years. Jolene Reid joins MasterBUILT. Steve Robinson promoted at Easton's. Ken Hughes special advisor, Ontario beverage alcohol review. Margaret Bowler's new position at AmEx GBT.


The hospitality community lost one of its most passionate advocates with the recent passing of Walter Oster. Starting his career in 1973, Oster was the man behind the successful Whaler’s Wharf and seven subsequent restaurants in the Toronto area, including Pier 4 Storehouse Restaurant. He later expanded into the hotel business with Toronto’s Hotel Admiral, which he sold in 1991 and now operates as the Radisson Plaza Hotel Admiral and will soon become Canada's first Radisson Hotel Blu. Most recently, Oster was chairman & CEO of the Canadian National Sportsmen’s Shows. Throughout his career, Oster was honoured with several accolades in recognition of his contribution to the industry, including the Canadian Tourism Awards’ Lifetime Achievement Award Induction into the Canadian Association of Exhibition Managers Hall of Fame and Queen Elizabeth II, Golden- and Diamond-Jubilee Awards.

Industry innovator and thought leader David Kong is celebrating his 15th year as president and CEO of Best Western Hotels & Resorts. As he hits the anticipated milestone, Kong becomes the longest-running CEO of a top 10 major hotel chain and Best Western finds itself poised for its most exciting year yet.“David Kong is a visionary in our industry, but perhaps more importantly, he is one of the nicest people I know,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association. “Best Western and the entire lodging industry are lucky to have his leadership. I look forward to many more years working alongside David.”

MasterBUILT Hotels, a leading Canadian hotel development and management company, and the master territorial developer for Microtel by Wyndham, is pleased to announce the appointment of Jolene Reid as director of business development. In her role, Reid is responsible for leading the business development activities to support MasterBUILT Hotels’ aggressive growth plan of opening 75+ hotels by 2036. Shehas spent over a decade successfully growing franchises in the hospitality and wellness sectors, and holds a Bachelor of Music degree with a minor in French language from Mount Allison University.

Steve Robinson is the new vice-president of operations for Easton’s Group of Hotels. Robinson has a history with Easton’s, having worked in hotel operations for the past three years, in addition to serving as a general manager with the company in the ‘90s. Throughout his career, he has also work with Choice Hotels and Royal Host and previously held the position of president at Travelodge Hotels. “We believe in promoting growth from within and having our team members achieve their goals with us,” says Reetu Gupta, president and CEO of the Easton’s Group of Hotels. “Steven’s knowledge, efforts, dedication and passion are a cut above and we are excited to welcome him to this new role.”

The Ontario's government has named Ken Hughes to the newly created role of special advisor for the Beverage Alcohol Review. Hughes will provide advice to the Minister of Finance, Vic Fedeli, on how the government can modernize Ontario's beverage alcohol system to give consumers more choice and convenience, while giving businesses more opportunities. He will also serve as a principal in negotiations with alcohol stakeholders and work closely with the policy teams to develop proposals and guide implementation. He will also lead ongoing discussions with key stakeholders, including beverage alcohol producers, public health and safety organizations, municipalities, consumer groups, retailers, and restaurants and bars.

American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) has appointed Margaret Bowler as director, Global Hotel Strategy. In this newly created London-based role, Bowler will report to Wes Bergstrom, vice-president, Hotel Strategy. Bowler has extensive experience in senior and leadership roles in the hotel and travel management sectors, including more than 18 years at HRG, where she served as Global Director of Hotel Relations. HRG was acquired by GBT in July 2018. Bowler will lead the development of a new GBT hotel value proposition and content strategy. She will manage collaboration across product and technology teams with the goal of further enhancing GBT’s hotel capabilities and solutions for clients, travellers and suppliers.

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