David I. McMillan, President
An experienced international hotel and resort operator & developer, British-born David McMillan has held a number of senior positions in a wide range of major international chain and resort hotels, including Four Seasons, Hilton Hotels, Hyatt Hotels, IHG, and Carlson. The product of traditional European training in such iconic properties as Le Meurice and Maxims in Paris and Le Villars Palace in Switzerland, he was recruited by Hilton to join the Savoy Hilton and then the Waldorf Astoria in New York followed by posts and challenging assigments in Hilton International’s flagship, The Queen Elizabeth in Montreal, the Caribbean, and then Hyatt International’s flagship Hyatt Regency in Acapulco and the new Hyatt Regency Hotel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Returning to Canada, he joined the largest multi-brand hotel management company where he directed the operations, renovations, re-branding and above-industry-average profitability of +/-65 hotels under three ownership groups with 12,000 employees. Recruited by Cirque du Soleil for the development of a series of destination entertainment hotel complexes, he led the team reinventing hospitality with the world renowned entertainment giant.
Elected as Chairman of the Hotel Association of Canada for three terms after the successful re-birth of the association under his plan, he also was recruited and served as CEO of the Paris-based Int’l Hotel & Restaurant Association, the UN-sanctioned voice of the hotel & restaurant industry. Charged with the rejuvenation of the association, McMillan successfully brought back the European association HOTREC, the US’ AHLA, the Canadian HAC and other national associations as well as recruiting the participation of +/-120 vice presidents from most of the major international hotel chains to participate in some ten Global Councils dealing with global industry issues with multiple international organisations in the area of Security, Human Resources, E-Marketing, Hotel Classification, Standards and other critical issues of the day.
As Founding Partner of Axis Hospitality Int’l, Toronto-based McMillan participates in a wide variety of large and small hospitality projects in a number of ways including the evaluation of projects and resorts for financing, co-development of resorts, concept development, brand selection & financial architecture.
Graham Kwan, Senior Advisor
Mr Kwan has been involved in the hospitality, travel and resort industry for his entire 30-year career. He has worked within international, cross-cultural environments for both public and private corporations with first hand business and board experience in North America, China, Australasia, the Middle East, and the Caribbean.
Mr Kwan was a partner and director with the Belt Collins Group, the largest resort planning consultancy in Asia from 1994 to 1997, and established their development strategy division, Attractions International. He provided development advisory services to premier hospitality clients throughout Australasia including Kerry Properties (Shangri-la), CDL Properties, Lend Lease, and Sega Enterprises as well as government agencies pursuing high quality hospitality developments including Gold Coast City Council in Australia and Queenstown Council in New Zealand. By 1997 Mr Kwan had increased Belt Collins’ total global company fee revenue by over 12.5% at which time he divested his position and joined Intrawest Corporation, the leading publicly traded destination resort developer based in Vancouver, Canada.
During Mr Kwan’s 10-year tenure at Intrawest, as Vice President, he was instrumental in developing new businesses and performance improvements across the $2.4 billion group’s beach, golf, and ski resort portfolio. Mr Kwan was one of only two senior executives at Intrawest to work within the company’s resort operations, resort real estate development, and corporate divisions, as well as database marketing initiatives, providing him with uniquely comprehensive executive roles. He was integrally involved in the migration of the company from an asset focused operator to a customer centered, leisure and hospitality “experience” business. Most notably this resulted in the strategic acquisition of Abercrombie & Kent in 2004 which in the first year following integration delivered incremental revenue of $257M with net profit of $20.4M. Mr Kwan was also instrumental in leading all of Intrawest’s expansion activities in China as well as significant guest experience and profit growth at the Sandestin Resort in Florida.
Intrawest was privatized by Fortress Investments in 2006 for $2.8 billion. Following this Mr Kwan formed a partnership with Mr Lawrence Ho and his Melco International group of Hong Kong and established their resort subsidiary headquartered in Beijing as its Chief Executive Officer. By 2009 Melco became the largest integrated mountain resort developer in China with five properties and over 5,000 employees. He completed a $250M redevelopment of their flagship Yabuli resort including two new 5 star hotels, a 20 suite mountain top boutique hotel, new spa and health club, conference center, seven new F&B operations, retail and rental operations, ski school, new heated lifts, over 30 km of new trails and snowmaking, and a land bank of over 200 hectares with a yield of over 3,500 development units. Mr Kwan’s unique achievements in China were evidenced by: the hosting of the 2009 World University Games at Yabuli; TIME Magazine’s accolade of the Yabuli Resort as the best resort makeover in Asia in 2009; the selection of Club Med’s first resort operation in China; and the selection of Yabuli as the permanent home of the China Entrepreneur’s Forum.
In 2010 Mr Kwan refinanced the company, stepped down as CEO, and established Character Capital Inc., which he leads as its Chief Executive Officer. Character is a uniquely integrated platform that provides investment structuring and co-development partnerships of hotels and resorts including real estate, operations, hospitality, funding, and sales. The business is actively engaged with projects in North America, the Caribbean, and Latin America working with premier hospitality brands and leading sales agencies. He is Special Advisor, Real Estate to Cascadia Capital LLC, the largest boutique investment bank in the Pacific North West USA. Cascadia’s real estate platform is involved in strategic advisory, corporate and project finance, and M&A for international and domestic real estate clients.
Michael J. Beckley, Senior Advisor
Mr. Beckley, educated in the UK and a graduate of Westminster Hotel School in London, is a 50 year veteran in the hospitality sector. Over the years he has held various senior positions within the industry in Europe, Bermuda, The West Indies and Canada where he was the President of Commonwealth Hospitality; formerly Commonwealth Holiday Inns of Canada until the company was sold in 1999.
Mr. Beckley’s involvement in the industry in Canada has been extensive over the past 34 years including Chairman of Experience Canada, which led to the foundation of the CTC and Chairman of Ontario’s Tourism Strategy under the Rae Government. He has worked closely with faculty and students at both Guelph and Ryerson Universities and Michael Co-Chaired of the “Yes Chef” Campaign on behalf of George Brown College with restauranteur, Donna Dooher, raising funds to build the new Chef’s School at the College.
Mr. Beckley recently retired from Marriott International, a company which he joined in 2001 as Senior Vice President, Lodging Development for Canada. Mr. Beckley had overall development responsibility for all of Marriott’s lodging brands within Canada, which are categorized as:
- Full-service Brands: Ritz Carlton Hotels, J.W. Marriott Hotels and Resorts, Marriott Hotels and Resorts, Renaissance Hotels and Resorts, Renaissance Club Sport, Edition
- Select Service Brands: Courtyard, Residence Inn, Springhill Suites, Fairfield Inn, Fairfield Inn and Suites, Towne Place Suites and AC Hotels.
- Other Marriott Brands: Marriott Golf, Marriott Vacation Club and Ritz Carlton Residences.
During his tenure Marriott grew in Canada from 17 hotels in 2001 to 145 in 2015, including the acquisition of Delta Hotels & Resorts, with a further 26 in various stages of development to open in 2016 and 2017.
Michael Wegner, Senior Advisor
Michael Wegner is an experienced and dynamic industry leader with a 35-year progressive hospitality track record, working for international hotel and resort management companies, including IHG, Oberoi, ITT Sheraton and Starwood Hotels & Resorts.
Mr. Wegner, born and educated in Germany holds a certificate in hotel real estate investment and asset management from Cornell University Hotel & Catering college and completed as well as co-designed several executive education programs with INSEAD business school.
His passion for Food & Beverage management took him from his home town Hannover to London, Kathmandu, Dubai and Gaborone in southern Africa.
Advancing towards hotel general management, Mr. Wegner held various senior management positions in Bulgaria, Croatia, Cairo and Riyadh, before accepting a role with Starwood Hotel & Resorts as Regional Six Sigma leader for Africa and the Middle East.
Being a Six Sigma Master Black Belt and holding a certification in Blue Ocean strategy, Mr. Wegner deployed the “first in the service industry” Six Sigma initiative and subsequently managed a portfolio of 45 hotels in the region, generating an average of $ 3 million in incremental cost savings, year over year. Next to the ongoing Six Sigma portfolio management activities, he was responsible for the integration activities of an acquired hotel chain during 2006 and managed these activities from Starwood’s corporate office locations in Cairo and Dubai.
In 2007, he relocated to the Starwood Hotel & Resorts headquarters in Brussels and conceptualized, deployed and managed the New Builds & Transitions department for the Europe, Africa & Middle East division of the company. This newly created department has developed into a true game changer in operational project management, covering all aspects from the lead generation through the deal to the first day of hotel operation. Since the departmental launch, over 90 multi branded hotels, in more than 25 countries have been successfully opened under Michael’s leadership.