Starwood Picks Former Disney Exec

*Marriott Smoke-Free
*Moore Brings Star Power to Ensemble
*SunTrips Bankruptcy

Matt Ouimet is moving to Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc. as president, Hotel Group, after spending 17 years with the Walt Disney Company.

“I am excited to be a part of this team which has its sights set on nothing less than reinventing the industry,” Ouimet said.

In the newly created position, he will oversee hotel operations worldwide and become a member of Starwood’s Senior Leadership Team. Ouimet will join the four other divisional presidents who oversee the company’s nine brands throughout the North America, Latin America, Asia Pacific, Europe, Africa and Middle East sectors.

“Starwood is firing on all cylinders after having dramatically reshaped our company, and as we move to the next stage of our transformation, we looked for an executive with the depth in leadership that Matt can provide,” said Steven J. Heyer, CEO for Starwood. “With his background in resort development, marketing and operations, Matt can work across many different disciplines to help us ... execute our strategy.”

Ouimet worked on both business and finance projects for the Walt Disney Company. During his tenure, Ouimet led four separate business endeavors for Disney and served as executive general manager of Disney’s Vacation Club, president of Disney Cruise Line and president of the Disneyland Resort. In his most recent role as president, he oversaw the two theme parks and three hotels.

He is a graduate of State University of New York at Binghamton with a Bachelor of Science in accounting.

Ouimet will be based at the company headquarters in White Plains, N.Y.

Marriott Smoke-Free
To accommodate the preferences of most guests, Marriott hotels in the United States and Canada are going completely smoke-free. Come Oct. 15, smoking will be prohibited in all guestrooms, restaurants, lounges, meeting rooms, public spaces and employee work areas. Designated smoking areas will be available outside the hotels. This is the industry’s largest move to create a smoke-free environment. The plan includes over 2,300 hotels under the Marriott, JW Marriott, Renaissance, Courtyard, Fairfield Inn, SpringHill Suites, Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites and Marriott ExecuStay brands.

Ensemble Offers Moore
Ensemble Travel Group has announced award-winning actress Mary Tyler Moore as the keynote speaker for the opening general sessions of the “Star Power-Blending Fire, Brilliance and Imagination” international conference.

The conference, scheduled for Oct. 18-22, will be held at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto. The keynote will be sponsored by Classic Vacations and Holland America Line.

Free Air
Creative Leisure International is offering a free airfare promotion. When agents book a seven-night minimum stay at participating resorts or private villas in Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean by Oct. 15, clients will receive free airfare. Travel must take place Sept. 15-Dec. 15 and must include the purchase of Cancel for Any Reason/Waiver Program.

Participating resorts include Halekulani, Fairmont Orchid, Mauna Lani Bay Hotel, Maui Prince Hotel, Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel and Mauna Kea Hotel in Hawaii; the Marquis Los Cabos in Mexico; and several properties in the Caribbean. A complete list is available on Creative Leisure’s Web site.

SunTrips Bankruptcy
OneTravel Holdings plans to emerge from bankruptcy in 45-60 days by selling the company, downsizing the staff and adding new technology and marketing. The company, which owns SunTours (aka SunTrips),,, and filed Chapter 11 Bankruptcy on July 7.

It remains unclear whether the agents who sued SunTours will receive their unpaid commissions. The agents’ lawyer, Al Anolik, filed to force the SunTours sector into involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy instead of Chapter 11.

“If they ask for reorganization, then we will protest and say that as part of the reorganization they should pay off some agents,” Anolik said.

President and CEO Ed Wegel attributes the company’s troubles to the purchase of SunTours, which is outside of their online business model. He says the core online business sector is sound, with $260 million in gross annual bookings.

ASTA’s New Officers
The American Society of Travel Agents has elected nine new national board of directors and 12 chapter officials. Lila A. Ford, Cheryl Hudak, Mike McCulloh, Mary Peters and Kari Thomas will serve two-year terms as national directors, while Frederic W. Bursch, Jan Hammond and Terry Regan will serve one-year terms.

Vickie Greenlee and Bob Kern tied for the final national director spot and the board of directors will determine who will fill the position during their meeting in New Orleans, Aug. 1-3. In September, the board will also elect top positions from the nine directors-at-large for the executive committee.

Elected chapter officials in the West include Laura C. Rodriguez and Helen E. Wirschem for the Arizona Chapter and Kristin Webb-Walker and Yolanda Meador for the Southwest Chapter.

To see a complete list of newly elected officials, visit ASTA’s Web site.