Alan J. Fuerstman
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Montage Hotels & Resorts
Alan J. Fuerstman is chief executive officer of Montage Hotels & Resorts, a hotel and resort management company that he founded in January 2002 to serve the affluent traveler and homeowner.
Montage operates the brand’s flagship resort, the 250-room Craftsman-style Montage Laguna Beach in the vibrant arts community of Laguna Beach, California, which opened in February 2003. Ranked among the top resorts in the world and given the distinction of operating the first-ever Forbes 5 Star-rated spa, Montage Laguna Beach is a daily tribute to Mr. Fuerstman’s visionary approach to hospitality as well as his ability to select a team of outstanding executives to oversee operations.
Mr. Fuerstman opened the brand’s second hotel, the 201-room Montage Beverly Hills in Beverly Hills, California in November 2008. Inspired by the Spanish Revival Architecture and Mediterranean styling prevalent in Beverly Hills, this hotel evokes timeless elegance that captures the sophisticated residential ambiance of Southern California’s glamour estates of the 1920’s and 1930’s.
The company opened its third resort, Montage Deer Valley, located in Park City, Utah in December 2010. Reminiscent of the great mountain lodges of North America, Montage Deer Valley features a refined Mountain Craftsman style to complement its majestic Wasatch Mountain setting.
Prior to launching Montage Hotels & Resorts, Mr. Fuerstman was the Vice President of Hotel Operations at Bellagio in Las Vegas, Nevada. Previously, he served as President and Managing Director of The Phoenician resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was also responsible for ITT Sheraton’s Luxury Collection properties, St. Regis Aspen and St. Regis Houston, and all ITT Sheraton properties in Arizona.
In addition, Mr. Fuerstman served as General Manager of the El Conquistador Resort and Country Club in Tucson, Arizona. He began his distinguished career with Marriott International, culminating with the opening of several new properties including their flagship resort property, Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa.
Mr. Fuerstman has been recognized with many industry accolades including; "2011 Distinguished Achievement Award" from B'nai B'rith, "One to Watch" from Virtuoso Life Magazine, "Art to Life" award from Art & Living Magazine, "Leaders in Luxury" award from Luxury Travel Advisor Magazine and “Resort Executive of the Year” from Ypartnership, the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) and The University of Denver’s School of Hotel, Restaurant & Tourism Management.
Mr. Fuerstman currently serves on the Board of Trustees for Gettysburg College, the Northern Arizona University School of Hotel and Restaurant Management’s Advisory Board, and the Resort Committee of the American Hotel & Lodging Association.
A native of New Milford, New Jersey, Mr. Fuerstman graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. He is married to Susan J. Fuerstman and they have four children.
James D. Bermingham
Vice President, Montage Hotels & Resorts and Managing Director, Montage Laguna Beach
James Bermingham is Vice President of Montage Hotels & Resorts and Managing Director of Montage Laguna Beach. In his roles, Mr. Bermingham oversees Montage Laguna Beach, Montage Beverly Hills, Montage Deer Valley, and Montage Residences Corporation. In addition, he supervises the management company in sales, human resources, culture development and training, and supports the development team.
The veteran hotelier has been the Managing Director at Montage Laguna Beach from its opening in 2003, and has played an integral role in guiding the team that has helped Montage achieve significant industry and public acclaim.
Driven by a philosophy which mandates excellence, a "good neighbor" policy and great attention to detail, Mr. Bermingham attributes Montage's resounding success to the exceptionally talented, committed and gracious staff. "This commitment is pervasive throughout the company," he says. "Everyone who works here has a shared vision and enthusiasm for their job, which ultimately creates an unparalleled experience for our guests and residents."
Mr. Bermingham began his 25-year hospitality career as a manager trainee at the Clarence Hotel in his hometown of Dublin, Ireland, where he spent many years honing his talents.
Realizing that he was ready to embark on a lifetime career in the hotel industry, he moved to London, England, where he began a career with ITT Sheraton and the Luxury Collection, which spanned ten years. He worked as General Manager of ITT Sheraton's Five Diamond St. Regis in Houston, Texas. During his tenure with ITT Sheraton and the Luxury Collection, Mr. Bermingham accrued many accolades for his accomplishments, including "The Divisional President Award" for outstanding achievement and the "Top Sales Team Award" for the North American division.
In 1998, he joined Mirage Resorts as opening Vice President of Hotel Operations at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Mississippi. The following year, he moved his family to Washington, D.C. taking a position as General Manager of the acclaimed Latham Hotel, where he was also responsible for its sister property, the boutique Georgetown Inn. Here Mr. Bermingham earned the MeriStar Hotels & Resorts "General Manager Excellence Award - Best Food and Beverage."
Mr. Bermingham takes an active role in serving the surrounding community where he lives in Orange County, California. A hallmark of his community involvement is "Hearts of Montage," a comprehensive outreach program which supports non-profit programs throughout Orange County. Demonstrating his commitment, Mr. Bermingham has served on numerous Orange County non-profit and hospitality industry boards and committees, among them the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach, the Ocean Institute, the Anaheim and Orange County Convention and Visitor's Bureau and the Orange County Tourism Council.
Mr. Bermingham is married with two young sons, and enjoys coaching his son's soccer teams.
Vice President Development Services
With over 24 years of hotel industry experience, Mr. Claypool is responsible for overseeing all Montage new construction projects related to brand design and architectural standards, service and operations design efficiencies, and compliance management.
This includes the technical and design application of all guidelines for sustainable practices relating to materials and construction as well as support for ongoing operations at project completion. In addition, his team provides design support, consultation and analysis for Montage Hotels & Resorts owners in construction, renovation, or development of their assets.
Prior to joining Montage, Mr. Claypool spent eight years at The Phoenician in Scottsdale, where he served as director of technical services. In this capacity, he managed a department of 132 employees including engineering, fleet services, landscaping and golf maintenance; performed feasibility studies; developed multiyear capital plans; and directed professional consulting services. He guided such resort projects as complete guestroom and public space refurbishment, new construction of guestroom/suite building, and new construction of golf.
As Starwood Hotel’s most accomplished chief engineer, Mr. Claypool was tapped to perform several property evaluations for other company properties including the Mauna Lani in Hawaii, The Wigwam Resort in Arizona and the St. Regis in Aspen.
Prior to serving at The Phoenician, Mr. Claypool worked in similar positions for such properties as Sheraton Bal Harbor Hotel in Florida and the Sheraton Hartford Hotel in Connecticut. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business management from the University of Phoenix and is a licensed electrician, certified trainer by OSHA, and a certified national building inspector.
Vice President of Finance
With over 23 years of managerial experience in accounting and finance, Mr. Bashir is responsible for the accounting and finance for Montage Hotels & Resorts and its operating divisions.
Previously, he served as director of finance for various Marriott International brand hotels within the continental U.S. and overseas including Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay, Ritz Carlton Lake Las Vegas, Marriott Waikiki Beach, Marriott South Korea, Renaissance Los Angles and Renaissance Long Beach. Mr. Bashir has been involved with several hotel openings and conversions. Prior to that, he was an international banking officer for Allied Bank, responsible for maintaining the bank’s currency positions and accounts with foreign banks.
Mr. Bashir holds a Bachelor’s of Art degree in accounting from University of Karachi and a Master of Business Administration degree in international business and finance from Northrop University in Los Angeles. He also received an executive certificate in international finance from University of Hawaii, Honolulu.
Vice President of Golf
Mr. Villeneuve manages golf operations for Montage Hotels & Resorts. He also oversees design, development, and construction activity for company-owned operations, and has pre-opening oversight responsibilities for other company-managed properties.
Previously the general manager/director of golf for Sandpiper in Santa Barbara, California - an award-winning, oceanfront course next to the luxurious Bacara Resort, Mr. Villeneuve was instrumental in attaining numerous accolades during his four-year tenure, including the prestigious award from the Professional Golfers Association of America as the 2004 National Merchandiser of the year.
He has also served as the golf professional at Chicago’s Westmoreland Country Club, and held golf management positions with Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa in Palm Desert, California and the El Conquistador Resort in Tucson, Arizona.
Vice President of Acquisitions and Development
Jason Herthel is Vice President of Acquisitions and Development for Montage. He is responsible for spearheading all strategic development for the company, including the international portfolio expansion.
Prior to joining Montage Hotels and Resorts, Mr. Hertel held the position of Senior Vice President of Project Development for Viceroy Hotel Group, based in the company's Abu Dhabi corporate office. He also worked as Principal & General Counsel for The Setai Group, where he played an instrumental role in the company's development of more than 1.2 million square feet of luxury residential and mixed-use hotel and resort properties in South Florida and the Caribbean.
Mr. Herthel holds a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School, a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Stanford University.
Vice President of Sales
With over 24 years of industry experience, Mr. Frear oversees the company’s group, leisure, and catering sales strategies and programs as well as corporate revenue management and distribution strategies.
Mr. Frear leads a team of seven sales executives, who welcome back year after year corporate and executive retreats from companies such as Mazda, Merrill Lynch, Anheuser Busch, Institutional Investors and Pacific Life.
Prior to joining Montage, Mr. Frear served as regional director of sales & marketing for Starwood Hotels & Resorts, overseeing nine resorts in the southwest region, including such properties as The Phoenician in Scottsdale, Arizona, the St. Regis in Aspen, Colorado, The Wigwam Resort in Phoenix, Arizona, and the Westin Mission Hills Resort in Rancho Mirage, California. He steadily climbed the ranks having started as a national sales manager at the company’s flagship resort, The Phoenician. Mr. Frear was awarded the ITT President’s Award in 1997 as director of group sales for The Phoenician. This award is given out annually to top executives for their contributions to both business and the community.
Mr. Frear held the position of national sales manager for The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, California and The Pointe Resorts in Phoenix, Arizona in his early career. Mr. Frear attended Arizona State University in Tempe and has served on several hospitality and tourism boards throughout his career including, the Arizona Chapter of the Society of Incentive Travel Executives Hospitality Committee, Hospitality Committee for the Fiesta Bowl, Scottsdale Visitors Advisory Council, Super Bowl Advisory Committee for the 1996 Super Bowl in Tempe, Arizona, and the City of Phoenix Tourism and Hospitality Advisory Board.
Director of Sustainability
Mr. Slymen oversees all sustainable development and operational practices for Montage Hotels & Resorts.
This includes existing properties in Laguna Beach and Beverly Hills and those under development in Deer Valley, Utah and Los Cabos, Mexico.
He began his career in the hospitality industry in the family owned and operated Aliso Creek Inn & Golf Course in Laguna Beach. Prior to the Montage purchase of Aliso Creek Inn & Golf Course in 2004, Mr. Slymen was the golf course manager and superintendent, and assisted in accounting and information technology support. In 2006, his focus shifted towards development and entitlement support. In this role he developed additional knowledge and interest in sustainability and obtained LEED accreditation. Mr. Slymen helped oversee the LEED process for Montage Beverly Hills, resulting in a “Gold” level certification awarded by the USGBC in April 2009.
Mr. Slymen plays an active role in the Environmental Impact Committee at both Montage Laguna Beach and Montage Beverly Hills. He is also involved in many organizations including the Hospitality Adaptations Working Group for the national chapter of the USGBC, the Hospitality Committee for the Orange County Chapter of the USGBC and serves on the Board of Directors for the Ocean Institute.
He is a graduate of the University of Oregon with a degree in Management and Finance and an MBA in General Business.
Janet Kato White
Director of Leisure Sales
Mrs. Janet White is a seasoned hospitality executive with over 25 years of industry experience.
With an extensive background in independent luxury resorts, she has been corporate director of leisure sales for Montage Hotels & Resorts for the last five years, and helped launched the company’s much-acclaimed Laguna Beach property in 2003.
Previously, she spent over 19 years as regional director of sales for Halekulani Hotels and Resorts in Hawaii. In addition to directing sales for The Halekulani, the company’s venerable luxury resort on Waikiki Beach – consistently ranked among the world’s top hotels – she also oversaw the Waikiki Parc Hotel and Kapalua Bay Hotel. Mrs. White opened the company’s regional sales office in Los Angeles, and was the primary liaison to Leading Hotels of the World, Preferred Hotels, SRS and Virtuoso.
Mrs. White embarked on her career as a sales manager for Miyako Hotel, a Western International Hotel in San Francisco, climbing the ranks to director of sales. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley.
Derra Lee Edwards
Director of Learning
As Director of Learning, Derra Lee Edwards brings years of experience to Montage's training and education programs.
Most recently, Ms. Edwards held training and organizational development positions with Bacara Resort & Spa, Wyndham International/Golden Door Spas and Carefree Resorts.
Ms. Edwards has also acted as lead consultant on organizational development for the Lodge at Cordevalle, Island Outpost, Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain, Silver Leaf and the Reynold Plantation in Georgia. Her prior experience also includes positions as assistant food and beverage director at The Boulders in Carefree, Ariz. and restaurant manager at the Deer Valley Ski Resort in Deer Valley, Utah.
Ms. Edwards is certified in some of the most famed development training methods, including 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, FOCUS, 4 Roles of Leadership, Myers-Briggs, TIPS, Franklin Covey's Personal Coach theories, etiquette classes and more.
After graduating from the University of Idaho with a bachelor of arts in parks and recreation, Ms. Edwards continued her education program at Washington State University studying hotel and restaurant management.