People Update

June 1, 2007


Millennium Hotels and Resorts named John Arnett president and chief executive officer for the Americas.  Arnett will report to Peter Papas, group chief executive, and Kwek Leng Beng, chairman of parent company Millennium & Copthorne Hotels plc. Arnett is also a member of the board of directors of Millennium and Copthorne plc.  Sudheer Raghavan, former president, Millennium Hotels and Resorts North America, takes up a new position as head of India and Middle East operations, an important area of growth for Millennium & Copthorne.

Immediately prior to joining Millennium, Arnett was president of the Kor Hotel Group in Los Angeles, where he led the group’s expansion of its luxury hotels and resorts. Previously, he worked for more than 10 years at the Kimpton Hotel and Restaurant Group, where as senior vice president, he managed the operations and profitability of 37 Kimpton Group properties and guided the transition of new assets into stable operating businesses. Before that position, he served as Kimpton’s vice president of acquisitions and property transformation, contributing to numerous acquisitions throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Arnett’s background also includes management positions with other luxury hotels and resorts including the Ritz-Carlton Mauna Lani, Hawaii, where, as general manager, he was the recipient of both the Five Diamond Hotel and Restaurant Awards. He also managed the flagship Ritz-Carlton Buckhead in Atlanta as well as resorts in Minnesota and Arizona. He has a degree in business administration from the University of Denver.

Vienna Bowling, CMP, named Director of Meeting & Convention Sales at Chamber/CVB

Vienna Bowling

Vienna Bowling, CMP, has been named Director of Meeting & Convention Sales for the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Bowling’s duties include developing and implementing marketing programs to promote and sell Branson as a destination to meeting planners, associations and corporations; participating in trade shows, sales missions and other networking meetings; conducting site inspection tours; coordinating RFP process and event services for city-wide meetings; working with CVB advisory committees; managing sales staff and contributing to CVB marketing plans.

Bowling brings many years of experience in sales and marketing to the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber. Since 1997, Bowling has served as Senior Director of Sales and Marketing for the award-winning AAA Four Diamond Chateau on the Lake Resort, Spa & Convention Center in Branson. She received the John Q. Hammons Chairman’s 2000 Award for Director of Sales of the Year, and in 2002 and 2004 was named Associate Member of the Year by the Missouri Society of Association Executives for providing outstanding customer service. From 1992 to 1995, Bowling served as Regional Director of Sales at Geneva Lakes Resorts in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and from 1986 to 1992 was Regional Director of Sales for six John Q. Hammons properties in the Midwest, earning two gold, five silver and one bronze JQH Excellence Awards.

Bowling is a Certified Meeting Planner (CMP) and has a degree in graphic design and marketing.

Hotel Executive, Dean Chininis, Named General Manager of the InterContinental Kansas City

Dean Chinnis

The InterContinental Kansas City at the Plaza announced the addition of respected hotel manager Dean Chininis to its Kansas City Plaza location. Chininis will serve as the General Manager and brings more than 20 years of experience in luxury hotel management to the position.

Chininis’ primary responsibility as General Manager will be to oversee the day-to-day operations of the InterContinental on the Plaza, as well as upcoming renovations to all 366 guest rooms this year.

With an established reputation as a hotel manager, Chininis has honed his craft at hotels across the country, including The Lodge of Four Seasons (Lake of the Ozarks, Mo.),  The Chase Park Plaza Hotel (St. Louis, MO), The Arizona Biltmore (Phoenix, AZ) and The Ritz-Carlton (Atlanta, GA).

Maria Davis Brings 14 years of sales and marketing experience to The Lodge of Four Seasons

Maria Davis

Maria R. Davis, hired as Sales Manager, brings more than 14 years of hotel/resort sales and marketing experience to The Lodge of Four Seasons. Prior to working for The Lodge, Maria was a sales manager for another resort in the Lake area.

Maria began her sales career in Manila, Philippines, working for various American hotel chains such as Holiday Inns, Hyatt Regency Hotels and Club Paradise Dive Resort.

In 1995, Maria moved to the United States and began her hotel career as a reservations agent with the Embassy Suites Plaza in Kansas City. Due to her attention to detail and previous hotel/resort sales experience, Maria was promoted to Sales Manager after just six months. She also worked for the sales and convention department of  the Station Casino St. Charles (now Ameristar Casino). For the next five years, Maria contributed to the success of the DoubleTree Hotel in Overland Park, Kansas, where she further developed her knowledge of the corporate, government and association markets.

Maria won the 2006 Supplier of the Year Award given by Meeting Professionals International – Kansas City Chapter. She is also a board member of the Society of Government Meeting Professionals Heart of America Chapter. Maria has recently joined the Missouri Society of Association Executives.

Griffin appointed GM for The Lodge of Four Seasons

Dave Griffin

The Lodge of Four Seasons in Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, has appointed Dave Griffin as General Manager. Before joining The Lodge of Four Seasons, Griffin was the Director of Sales and Marketing at the Grand Geneva Resort and prior to that at The American Club in Wisconsin. Griffin has also served in sales and marketing roles with the Marriott Corporation, including Tan-Tar-A Resort in Lake of the Ozarks. He brings more than 22 years of hospitality experience to The Lodge of Four Seasons.

Overland Park CVB staff member receives honor

Mindy Lallier

Mindy Lallier, sales manager for the Overland Park Convention and Visitors Bureau, was named the 2006 Supplier of the Year by the Society of Government Meeting Planners (SGMP).

Voted on by the chapter membership, the Supplier of the Year award is given to a supplier member in good standing that has displayed dedication to the chapter as a whole. Lallier was recognized for the important role she played in the chapter’s growth.

“We believe that it is important for our team to be involved with industry associations,” said Gerald L. Cook, Ed.D., president of the OPCVB. “I was proud to learn that with the vision and leadership Mindy offers SGMP, the organization has seen growth and progress toward the future.”

Lallier has been with the OPCVB for three years and in the hospitality industry for 18 years.

Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau announces new sales manager, Marianne Thies

Marianne Thies

Thies’ first day at the Bureau was Monday, March 12.  Thies has had a tremendous amount of sales experience and will be able to incorporate her background into this new position.

Having worked at the Capitol Plaza Hotel since August of 2004, Thies is familiar with the hospitality industry and the ins and outs of Jefferson City.  Thies sold more than $1 million in room nights in 2006 at the Capitol Plaza.

Steve Picker, Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director, said Thies’ strong sales background and enthusiastic attitude will be excellent assets to the sales team at the Bureau.

“The Bureau has many opportunities to bring new conventions, conferences and meetings to Jefferson City,” Picker said, “I am confident that with Marianne on our sales team, we will be successful at increasing group visitors to our community.”

For more information about the Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau call (573) 632-2820 or check out

Douglas Wojick NAMED Director of Sales & Marketing for Chateau on the Lake

Douglas Wojick

Chateau on the Lake Resort, Spa and Convention Center announced that Douglas Wojick has been named Director of Sales and Marketing for the 301-room luxury, European-style property. It is owned and managed by Springfield, Mo.-based John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts, LLC, an independent builder, developer, owner and manager of upscale, full-service hotels, resorts and suites.

Wojick’s extensive sales background includes work at such full-service brands as Ritz-Carlton, Hyatt and Hilton, as well as at major independent resorts like the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut and the Treetop Resort in Michigan. He has worked with the following companies: Honda, Ford, Xerox, ING, Maritz Travel Company, Carlson Marketing Group and Kraft. Originally from Chicago, Wojick has an exceptional client following and is looking forward to developing the sales staff at the Chateau.

Wojick will lead convention and leisure travel sales at Branson’s only AAA Four Diamond resort through the execution of marketing campaigns, customer relations initiatives and special promotions. He will direct the sales staff, and expand and introduce the Chateau to a new client base outside the Midwest while at the same time developing pricing and sales strategies for all revenue streams. Wojick has more than 15 years of sales and marketing experience, along with an impressive track record of facilitating exponential sales growth.

Tony Schoonen, Executive Director for Wonders of Wildlife in Springfield Resigns

Wonders of Wildlife in Springfield, Mo., has announced that its Executive Director, Tony Schoonen, has resigned. Schoonen will remain on staff until the end of May and will then move to Missoula, Montana  to serve as Chief of Staff for the Boone and Crockett Club.


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