Alex Cabañas is CEO of BENCHMARK, A Global Hospitality Company.
Alex is passionate about leading and growing a company that makes a profound difference in the lives of employees, guests, owners, industry partners and the community. His life mission since college has been to create opportunities for others to be successful. As CEO, Alex is focused on strategic planning, people development, pursuing growth and new opportunities, promoting the delivery of memorable customer service and ultimately being the most experiential third-party hospitality management company in the industry.
Alex was previously President, business development & finance for Benchmark. During his tenure in business development roles over the last five years, the company added 22 properties to its management portfolio, expanded into the Caribbean and added to its presence in Tokyo. The company also acquired MTM Luxury Lodging, which led to the launch of Personal Luxury Resorts & Hotels.
Alex joined BENCHMARK in January 2006. Prior to joining BENCHMARK, he worked for The Boston Consulting Group from 2000 through 2005. While with BGC he worked with clients in a number of different industries including: travel and tourism, government, consumer/retail, telecommunications, e-commerce, financial services, and energy. His assignments included a variety of different tasks including: lodging investment proposal, market sizing and segmentation, competitive benchmarking, product development, process management, asset valuation, new business development and growth strategy.
Alex earned his MBA at Harvard Business School and holds a BBA and MS in Finance from Texas A&M University. Alex is married to his perfectly-made-for-him wife, Heather and they have two energetic and out-going boys, Matthew and Eli. Alex enjoys his time with family, traveling and exploring together, any outdoor activity and is very involved in his church.
A hotel is just a building. It can’t run itself. That’s what Bashar Wali does. For more than 20 years, Wali has been driving innovation in all facets of the hospitality industry at companies like Wyndham International, Starwood and Grand Heritage Hotels. As President of Provenance Hotels, he has crafted an assertive growth plan and developed strategic partnerships that have led to marquee collaborations with James Beard Award-winning chefs and alliances with preeminent developers like Woodbine Development Corporation, Bolour and Associates, GB Lodging and Thayer Lodging to expand the company’s national presence and grow its portfolio of owned and managed hotels.
Wali artfully balances this active focus on growth with maximizing the financial performance and market prominence of Provenance Hotels’ award-winning lifestyle properties in the Western United States. He is widely recognized for developing playful guest amenities like the company’s industry-leading spiritual menu and for inspiring the company’s partnerships with companies like Sub Pop Records and Salt & Straw. Based on the philosophy that it is personality, passion, sense of humor and sense of drama that differentiates Provenance Hotels from its competitors, Wali has perfected an approach to the art of hospitality that is as successful at creating memorable guest experiences as it is at putting heads in beds. Bashar Wali graduated from Johnson & Wales University with a B.S. in Hotel Restaurant Institutional Management. Officially he resides with his family in Portland, Ore. but can often be found jetting to new markets and kicking the tires on potential Provenance Hotels.
A 20-year veteran to the luxury hospitality industry, Bill provides Viceroy Hotel Group with a truly global perspective, bringing extensive senior management experience with leading international hospitality companies, including Jumeirah Group, The Doyle Collection and Kempinski Hotels and Resorts. As the CEO of the Doyle Collection, Bill led the brand through its reinvention into a modern luxury urban hotel group that includes eleven hotels in the USA and Europe. Prior to The Doyle Collection, he served as Chief Marketing Officer for Dubai based Jumeirah Group at a time of tremendous growth for the international luxury hospitality group.
Since taking the helm at Viceroy, he has added three new properties, in New York City and San Francisco, and is preparing for the opening of new Viceroy branded hotels in Dubai, Chicago, Portugal and Panama, for a total of seventeen hotels under management by the group worldwide.
His passion is in creating hospitality brands that deliver a contemporary interpretation of luxury, built on the solid fundamentals of good old fashioned hotel-keeping. As Chief Executive Officer, Bill’s favorite role is leading new hire orientations where he instills pride in colleagues through the activation of Viceroy’s ideology that he created shortly after he joined the company. With a focus on pride creation, Bill often rebrands himself as the Chief Pride Officer.
From a young age, Gerard has been interested in community, design and hospitality. His first attempt at creating a community was in Africa where he tried to set up a backpacker’s that provided education and training in hospitality for the locals. It never got off the ground but his enthusiasm didn’t wane.
With his love for travel, he thought the hotel industry must be fun to work in and so, in an effort to expand his knowledge in hospitality, he worked as a hotel analyst advising banks and hotel developers across the globe at HVS International and operational roles with Marriott, Hyatt and Conran Restaurants.
The entrepreneurial bug didn’t wane though, and so he sold his home and co-founded Yotel, a pioneer of micro hotels. Cleverly using aircraft designers and innovative technology, Yotel was able to provide a superior product at an affordable price which even included motorised reclining beds and hourly occupancy! They developed hotels inside major global airport terminals providing rest for weary travellers and then built a city centre hotel near Times Square, New York with 669 cabins and a luggage Yobot. With Yotel then successfully developing hotels across the US, Europe and Asia he decided that the next venture needed a greater social mission.
He is now CEO and Co-Founder of Society; a co-living brand that aims to bring the real benefits of community to people’s lives through technology and well-designed apartment buildings.
Gerard contributes to the Oxford Brookes University Entrepreneurs program with lectures and as a “Dragon” on the final pitch.
Gerard Inzerillo is Chief Executive Officer of Forbes Travel Guide.
Jerry, as he is known by most in the business, is a visionary recognized for his trademark innovation and his extensive network of contacts in tourism, hospitality, entertainment and business, cultivated during his four decades as a manager and executive in the hospitality and entertainment industries. During his storied career, Inzerillo has developed some of the world’s most famous and successful lifestyle brands in tourism and entertainment. His leadership has been instrumental in the successful globalization of Forbes Travel Guide as well as in the conceptualization and operations of breakthrough hotel properties, such as Atlantis, One&Only Resorts, Ian Schrager Hotels, Four Seasons and Hilton Hotels.
As CEO of Forbes Travel Guide since May 2014, Inzerillo has successfully lead the company from its North American origins to the most trusted and respected recognition of service excellence worldwide. Forbes Travel Guide evaluates more than 2,000 of the world’s finest properties.
From 2012 to 2014, Inzerillo served as the president and CEO of IMG Artists, the global leader in artist management, performing arts and lifestyle events planning. At IMG Artists, Inzerillo directed global strategies for the company’s music, events, festivals, government consulting and artist and facility management businesses. IMG Artists manages the careers of more than 500 artists and produces 2,500 musical and lifestyle events annually.
Before coming to IMG Artists, Inzerillo was president of Kerzner Entertainment Group, where he served from 1991 to 2011. While there, he was responsible for raising the visibility of the company and the profile of its properties in the Bahamas, Dubai, the Indian Ocean, Mexico, Morocco, Africa, Mauritius and Maldives, as well as conceptualizing and positioning its One&Only Resorts brand. Inzerillo oversaw the production and launch of several legendary properties, including the opening of the billion-dollar Phase III of Atlantis in the Bahamas in May of 2007 and the $1.5 billion Atlantis-Dubai on Palm Island in 2008, which received worldwide media coverage and was featured on the cover of Newsweek.
From 1991 to 1996, Inzerillo served as chief operating officer of Sun City, the unique South African resort complex built by Sol Kerzner. In 1987, he was the founding president and chief executive officer of Morgans Hotel Group, which was later rebranded as Ian Schrager Hotels. While there, he conceptualized, opened and positioned such avant-garde properties as Morgans, Royalton and Paramount in New York; the historic Delano in Miami Beach; and Mondrian in Los Angeles.
Inzerillo resides in New York City with his wife, former CNN news anchor Prudence Solomon, and their daughter, Helena Zakade, who was named by her godfather, Nelson Mandela.
Co-founder, Joe Diaz, launched AFAR in 2009 with co-founder Greg Sullivan. AFAR has quickly become one of the world’s most critically acclaimed travel media brands. Its flagship magazine is the only travel publication to be nominated for three National Magazine Awards with its most recent nomination in “Best Overall Photography.” It also the only travel publication to be named “America’s Best Travel Magazine” every year since its launch. In 2016, AFAR.com was considered the Best Overall Website in Travel by Folio. Its digital platform is designed to provide frequent and discerning travelers with the best in content and tools to inspire, enable and guide deeper, richer, and more fulfilling experiences.
The company’s nonprofit foundation, Learning AFAR, provides scholarships to lower-income high school students to go on life changing trips to transform themselves and their communities. AFAR Experiences hosts travel events for global citizens around the world. Finally, AFAR works with top brands, hotel companies and destinations to provide content, inspiration and advice to effectively connect with and serve discerning travelers.
Joe was born in Palm Springs, CA and grew up in a bi-cultural family with his father from Spain and mother from San Francisco. He graduated from Duke University and joined Teach for America where he taught in Phoenix, Arizona. Joe went on to found a successful real estate investment company, which he sold in 2006 before embarking on living life AFAR. He passionately believes that experiential travel is the best form of education and the more people who travel in a curious and open-minded way, the better our world will be. Joe resides in New York City.
Mark Harmon is the Founder of Auberge Resorts Collection, an international portfolio of luxury hotels, resorts and residences. Each property is uniquely conceived to reflect its location and culture, yet all share a crafted approach to luxury expressed through captivating design, exceptional cuisine and spas, and gracious service. Mark’s passion is to create iconic places that will be an enduring and contributing business in the local community and destination.
Michael Keriakos is the co-founder and CEO of Curacity.com; a marketing technology company in the luxury hospitality space. They currently operate a network/marketplace that connects publishers like surfacehotels.com, ahotellife.com, fathomaway,com, travelcurator.com and insidehook.com with the luxury hotels they write about. Curacity has built a data driven bridge that helps publishers get paid commissions for bookings their content is shown to inspire.
Prior to founding Curacity in 2015, Keriakos was Everyday Health’s (NYSE:EVDY) co-founder and President. He served on their board of directors since their inception in January 2002 through their IPO in March, 2014.
Keriakos drove the companies M & A activities leading the acquisition efforts of MedpageToday.com, and Eqal from the creators of the first YouTube hit; lonleygirl15. He led the effort to expand the Company’s media footprint, including partnerships with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Twitter, AOL, Google’s YouTube and brought the weekly (now Emmy-nominated) TV series, Recipe Rehab, to 95% of the country. During his tenure, revenues went from $0 to over $150mm with ad revenues going from $6mm to $130mm from 2006 to 2013.
Keriakos is an active angel investor and advisor to start ups around the world. He is a cofounder of the award winning Qui Tequila which is now the world’s #1 extra anejo tequila and co-chairs its board. He is an advisor to the CEO of Quincy Jone’s Playground Sessions and he sat on the Qwiki board for 2 years through its acquisition by Yahoo! ($52mm in 2013). Keriakos was also the founding investor/cofounder of Rebbl.co – a cold beverage company launched as a social venture in partnership with the Not For Sale Campaign (an anti human trafficking NGO).
Keriakos is on the board of “Littlest Lamb” (an orphanage project in Egypt. He also spends time mentoring startups at Entrepreneurs Roundtable accelerator where he is a Venture Partner.