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R. Eric Bettelheim, Founder of the Ascona Group, is a native of Amsterdam, Holland and has over forty years of experience in the hospitality industry with more than twenty years in various management and consulting positions. He was trained in all facets of the hotel and resort industry in several prestigious, five-star hotels in Amsterdam, Holland. Mr. Bettelheim relocated to the United States in 1977 and, since, has gained wide experience holding senior management positions with various hotels and hotel companies.
Prior experience includes management of commercial, resort, convention and casino hotels including the Orange Tree Golf & Conference Resort, the Paradise Valley Resort, and Sanctuary Resort all in the Phoenix, Arizona Metropolitan Area.
Additionally, Bettelheim has held various management positions with Sonesta International Hotels, Four Seasons Hotels and Regent International Hotels, the Hotel Pontchartrain in Detroit, Michigan (in charge of a $16 million refurbishment), The Brighton Hotel and Casino in Atlantic city and both the Warwick and Warwick Post Oak Hotels in Houston, Texas. He has been involved with seven hotel openings.
For almost three years, Mr. Bettelheim was President and COO of Southwest Hospitality Management Group in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The company owned and operated six small boutique hotels, and produced in excess of $30 million in revenues. Bettelheim was hired to streamline the operations and expand the company into the Western United States by acquiring additional boutique and historic properties.
In recent years, Bettelheim was asked to reposition and oversee the management of Sanctuary Resort (a 53-acre private property in Paradise Valley, Arizona) and worked with city government to secure zoning approval for the expansion of the resort. Additionally, under Bettelheim's direction the Resort achieved a ranking amongst the top ten resorts in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area by Zagat and Conde Nast and a ranking as a top tennis resort by Tennis Magazine and Racquet Magazine.
Presently, Eric Bettelheim is Principal of The Ascona Group, an international hospitality management consulting company. The company has operated since 1987, serving clients throughout the United States, Pacific Rim, Europe, the Far East and the Caribbean.
Hotel School Den Haag, The Hague, The Netherlands: Hotel Management & Business Administration. Continued Education: Cornell University - Motivation & Leadership; Rice University - Sales & Marketing; Phillip Crosby Quality Improvement Process College, Orlando, Florida.
Eric Bettelheim is married and he and wife Sophia have two children: daughter Natascha, a graduate from The University of San Francisco School of Law, and son Shannon, an MIS major graduate from the Karl Eller College of Management, Information Technology and Entrepreneurship, The University of Arizona. Bettelheim enjoys Internet technology, classical music, international cuisine, hiking and biking.
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Hans J. Keller brings to The Ascona Group a wealth of International experience, both in hotel consulting and hotel and resort operations. He has provided his expertise and directed a wide range of projects. Some of his clients include Park Plaza Hotels, BV, London, where Hans created a franchise division and actively managed acquisitions and franchising for the Group.
For the Lancaster Hotel Group he restructured several hotels including the Lodge and Spa in Breckenridge, Colorado. He also provided technical assistance and restructured the Hotel Los Tajibos in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. For Millennium Hotels he opened the Royal Palms Hotel in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador - an ecologically very sensitive project.
For the 400-room J.W. Marriott in Cairo, Egypt, Mr. Keller designed a luxury Wellness Institute. This 70,000 square feet Center included a combination of eastern and western modalities, as well as a Spa Institute.
He has also conducted feasibility studies for projects in various Latin countries (Peru, Costa Rica, etc.).
Prior to starting his consulting career, Hans Keller was Vice President of Penta International (a Lufthansa subsidiary) and CEO of the New York Penta. During his tenure he managed to entirely restructure this 1700-room, 1,000 employee New York City Hotel. This restructuring included, among others, the reduction of the management structure by 200 positions, and also creating a fully integrated computer system. The property returned to profitability under some very difficult circumstances. The Hotel was subsequently sold to a partnership.
Additional significant contributions included stints with Sonesta International Hotels (twelve years) as Vice President International, where he added the Orlando, Cairo, Jerusalem, and Eilat properties to their portfolio. As President of the Amsterdam Sonesta Corp., he built and operated this luxury downtown 300-room hotel in The Netherlands.
With Rock Resorts, Inc. (six years) he managed the Cerromar Beach Hotel, Dorado, Puerto Rico (500 rooms, Casino, 4 golf courses, 800 employees), and also was Director of Systems analyses in New York, where he created the first on-line real time hotel computer system with Ecco computer systems out of California.
Hans Keller built and owned Hotel Vanessa in Verbier, Switzerland, a four-star Resort Hotel. He was educated in Switzerland, attended the Hotel School in Lucerne, Switzerland. He speaks English, German, French, Spanish, and some Dutch. He has dual citizenship: Swiss and American.
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