Starwood has announced that Raymond L. “Rip” Gellein, Jr., has been promoted to President, Global Development.In this new corporate position, Gellein, currently the Chairman and CEO of the Starwood Vacation Ownership (SVO) business, will take on overall management responsibility for the full range of Starwood’s real estate-related functions. This encompasses all Starwood development activities, including hotel, resort and residential development; vacation and fractional ownership; property acquisitions and dispositions; hotel management contracts; franchise pipeline expansion; capital planning and allocation; portfolio management; feasibility studies; and design and construction.
Ted Darnall, currently President of Starwood Real Estate Group since 2002, has stepped down in order to develop a fund specifically focused on building aloft and Extended Stay by Westin hotels, two brands which he helped create.
Steven J. Heyer, Chief Executive Officer of Starwood Hotels and Resorts, said, “Rip is a dynamic leader with extensive real estate experience and a proven long-term track record, including industry leading growth and profitability in our SVO business in the last four years. By successfully innovating and capitalizing on the enormous mixed-use opportunities in the SVO business, Rip’s group has created best-in-class margins and a strong platform for continued growth. We look forward to leveraging his expertise and development skills on a broader scale in his new position.”
Heyer continued, “Starwood’s pipeline is the strongest it has ever been, and our focus on deepening developer relationships is creating many new opportunities for the business. Under Rip’s leadership, our real estate and SVO groups will be closely coordinated, reflecting today’s trend toward branded mixed-use properties. We believe this will allow us to accelerate our growth and better serve our existing and potential developer clients, thereby delivering greater value to our customers and our shareholders. I am confident we are pursuing the right strategy and that Rip is the right leader to drive its execution.”
Heyer concluded, “We could not be more pleased that Ted will pursue his passion to own hotels, and we are particularly thrilled that he will be developing the aloft and Extended Stay by Westin brands. As one of the architects of Starwood’s newest brands, Ted is demonstrating his belief in their promise for the future. Ted has been a driving force behind the growth of our hotel pipeline, and his entrepreneurial spirit and real estate expertise have been important to our success and we look forward to a long relationship with him in the future, as an owner of our hotels.”
Gellein said, “I look forward to working with the talented real estate and SVO teams to continue to extend Starwood’s footprint and execute on the Company’s branded lifestyle strategy. I will be focused on ensuring that we accelerate development of our pipeline, capitalize on our powerful brand platform, and further develop distribution for those brands.”
Darnall said, “I am proud of what we have accomplished in the real estate group and believe Starwood is positioned for even greater pipeline growth in the years to come. I am looking forward to being an owner of Starwood hotels and, after 10 years with the Company, am excited to have the opportunity to pursue a new entrepreneurial challenge.”
Gellein has served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., the vacation ownership division of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., since 1999. In this capacity, he led the integration of the Company’s successful timeshare operations with the brands, resources and assets of Starwood. Gellein was formerly Chairman and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Vistana, Inc., a public Company acquired by Starwood in 1999. He joined Vistana in 1980 and was instrumental in leading the company’s development, which included re-acquiring the assets of the Vistana entities from General Development Corporation in 1991 and launching a successful initial public offering of Vistana in 1997.
Prior to joining Vistana, Gellein was a Vice President and Division Manager in Real Estate for the Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company of Chicago. He holds an MBA in Finance, Accounting and Marketing from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, as well as a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Psychology from Denison University. Gellein is Chairman of the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Florida Chapter of Junior Achievement.
Darnall joined Starwood Lodging Corp. in 1996 and has been President of the Starwood Real Estate Group since 2002. He and Mr. Gellein will work together through the transition, and Starwood expects Ted to remain with the Company through at least the end of the year.