Hotel Online  Special Report

 Hal L. Cook Named VP of Operations for Merritt
Hospitality, LLC; Will Lead New Regional Team


NORWALK, Conn., June 3, 2005 — Merritt Hospitality, LLC, an independent hotel management company and a wholly-owned subsidiary of HEI Hospitality, LLC, today announced that it has added a third regional team to its operations group to strengthen the management services it provides to a rapidly growing portfolio of managed hotels - currently numbering 25.  To lead the new team, Hal L. Cook joined the company as vice president of operations.  Rounding out the new team are Jean Schmier as the director of human resources, Jacqueline Villamil as vice president of sales and marketing, and Marcus Harris as vice president of finance.

“We continue to add strength and expertise to our management team as we grow our portfolio,” said Gary Mendell, chief executive officer.  “Cook’s more than fifteen years of U.S. and international operation and management experience in the hospitality industry will play a key role in our future achievements.  Additionally, we will capitalize on Cook’s proven track record in guest satisfaction and his ability to lead a team.  His key team members are equally qualified in their respective disciplines and bring a wealth of combined experience to our operations.”

Immediately prior to joining Merritt, Cook was regional vice president for White Lodging Services.  In this position, he was responsible for the operation of 20 hotels and led the opening of eight new hotels.  Cook formerly was regional vice president of operations of the international region and regional director of operations for the south central region for Marriott International.  During this time, he was responsible for the development and maintenance of all hotels in the Caribbean, Latin and South America regions and managed hotel operations for the 24 hotels in the company’s south central region.  He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Georgia.

Jean Schmier has 18 years of hotel and corporate level human resources experience.  Previously, Schmier was corporate director of human resources for Interstate Hotels & Resorts.  In this role, she provided HR guidance to the company’s vice presidents of operations, general managers, and human resources professionals for luxury, resort, independent and full-service branded hotel properties.  She has a Bachelor of Science degree in personnel management from Juniata College.

Before joining Merritt, Jacqueline Villamil was director of sales for Meristar Hotels & Resorts at the company’s Westin Century Plaza and St. Regis hotels in Los Angeles, Calif., and was responsible for hiring and organizing team members and group sales efforts.  She received the Greatest Occupancy Increase Award and the Destiny Award, for the largest piece of contracted business booked company-wide.  Villamil graduated from Centro Educativo Latinoamericano in Rosario, Argentina, and holds International Studies and Spanish Literature degrees from the University of Oregon.

Immediately prior to his current position of vice president of finance, Marcus Harris was a controller of the Sheraton Hotel Buckhead, where his duties included supervision of cash analysis, balance sheet reconciliation, forecasting, and budgeting.  He is a former assistant controller for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide’s Sheraton Midtown Colony Square.  He graduated from the College of Business at North Carolina State University.

HEI Hospitality, LLC, the parent company of Merritt Hospitality, LLC, is a rapidly growing hotel ownership/investment firm that is headquartered in Norwalk, Connecticut and owns and/or operates 25 first-class and full-service hotels throughout the United States under such well-known brand names as Marriott, Sheraton, Westin and Hilton.

Gary Mendell
Merritt Hospitality
 (203) 849-2214
Also See: HEI Hospitality Names Ernie Freedman Senior VP & Chief Financial Officer; To Oversee Hotel Portfolio Finances and HEI Hospitality Fund / March 2005
HEI Hospitality Acquires the 351-room Hilton Mission Valley Hotel in San Diego, California / March 2005

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