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The Woodlands (Houston), Texas, May 2016 … Benchmark Hospitality International, a leading U.S.-based hospitality management company, has named Kirsten Ponza director of food & beverage for Chaminade Resort & Spa, the award-winning Benchmark Resort® located in Santa Cruz, California.  Kevin Herbst, general manager for the resort, which overlooks the city and Monterey Bay, made the announcement.

“I am so pleased to announce Kirsten’s new position, which represents a promotion for her at our resort,” said Mr. Herbst.  “She has brought incredible culinary talent and creativity to Chaminade, first as pastry chef, then as our executive chef, and now as the leader of the entire food and beverage department. Kirsten is a terrific example of how Benchmark builds careers.”

Kirsten Ponza was previously executive chef for Chaminade Resort & Spa, a position to which she was appointed in 2013.  She has also served as executive sous chef and as pastry chef for the resort. 

While Chaminade’s executive chef, Ms. Ponza actively brought the resort into the community, with annual participation in Santa Cruz’s Grazing on the Green Food, Wine & Beer Festival to help raise funds for the Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit Group.  She remains active with the culinary arts program at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California, near Santa Cruz.  Never one to shy away from a particularly unique opportunity, Kirsten Ponza has served as tour chef for the legendary English rock band, The Rolling Stones.

A native of Canada where she launched her culinary career, Ms. Ponza is a graduate of Fanshawe College in London, Ontario, where she earned her Culinary Management Degree.  She resides in Santa Cruz.

About Chaminade Resort & Spa

Nestled on 300 acres in the Santa Cruz Mountains and overlooking Monterey Bay, the AAA Four Diamond Chaminade Resort & Spa is an ideal destination for families, friends or couples seeking a leisurely getaway that is experientially Santa Cruz.  The resort features 156 newly renovated accommodations including 44 suites, two restaurants, a sparkling pool, four tennis courts, executive fitness center and a full-service spa.  The historic Mission-style resort is an IACC approved meeting destination offering 12,000 square feet of meeting and event space.  Chaminade Resort & Spa is also pet friendly.  For reservations and information call 800-283-6569 or visit  To become a fan, visit us on Facebook at or to follow us on Twitter at

About Benchmark Resorts & Hotels®

Benchmark Resorts & Hotels®represents the finest in lodging, dining, recreational and meeting accommodations. Many are certified by the International Association of Conference Centres, the leading professional organization governing the multi-billion dollar conference center industry on five continents, and many have also been recognized with the coveted Benchmark Conference Centers®certification of meeting excellence.  Benchmark Resorts & Hotels deliver highly specialized service that anticipates guests’ needs and ensures a hospitality experience unsurpassed and long remembered.  To become a fan on Facebook, visit, or follow us on Twitter at

Contact: Ken Ellens / 201-758-2864-Phone / 201-951-9511-Cell

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