Montage Hotels & Resorts is comprised of a team of extraordinarily talented individuals who are accomplished in their specialized fields.
Managing Director, Montage Laguna Beach
Rick Riess is Managing Director of Montage Laguna Beach. In this role, Mr. Riess oversees all operations of the 248 room resort.
A veteran hospitality executive with over 35 years of experience, he joined Montage from Sea Island, a luxury resort in Georgia, where he was Managing Director. Under Riess’ leadership, Sea Island earned and continues to hold Forbes Five-Star ratings for its luxurious accommodations, its Spa and the restaurant.
Previously, Mr. Riess was president and CEO of Plumpjack Group in San Francisco, where he oversaw resorts, wineries, restaurants, retail and real estate development. Before that, he served as Chief Operating Officer and founding partner of Auberge Resorts, where he was instrumental in the opening of numerous small luxury resorts, including Calistoga Ranch in the Napa Valley; Esperanza in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; CordeValle in the Silicon Valley; and The Inn at Palmetto Bluff in Bluffton, South Carolina, which is now a Montage-managed resort. He inspired stellar results during his tenure with Auberge, with The Inn at Palmetto Bluff and Esperanza both being ranked as top resorts in the world by readers of Condé Nast Traveler.
His wealth of experience in luxury hospitality was garnered in management at hotels, restaurants and golf clubs in Hawaii and the West Coast. Prior to joining Auberge, he spent five years as Regional Vice President for Grand Bay Hotels and Resorts’ Western Division overseeing The Boulders in Carefree, Ariz.; The Lodge at Ventana Canyon in Tucson, Ariz.; the Peaks Resort & Spa in Telluride, Colo.; and Carmel Valley Ranch in Carmel, Calif. Harper’s Hideaway Report named The Boulders the No. 1 resort in North America during his tenure.
He began his career with Hyatt Hotels Corporation, serving for 18 years in management positions in Texas, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, Florida and Hawaii. During turns as General Manager of Hyatt Regency Kauai, Hyatt Grand Cypress and Hyatt Regency Gainey Ranch, all resorts were ranked in the top five of the Hyatt organization for customer service.
Mr. Riess currently sits on the board of directors and is a member of the Resort Committee of the American Hotel and Lodging Association, chairman of the Golden Isles Visitors Bureau, and commissioner for the Brunswick and McKinnon airports.
Director of Sales, Montage Laguna Beach
As the Director of Sales for Montage Laguna Beach, Bob Mitchell supervises the day-to-day operations of the sales team. In addition to his management responsibilities, he handles the Los Angeles and East Coast territories.
Prior to joining Montage six years ago, Mr. Mitchell spent five years as the director of sales at The Phoenician in Scottsdale, Arizona. Other previous positions included national sales manager for Pointe Resorts and various operational roles for Hyatt Hotels.
Phone: (949) 715-6115
Food & Beverage Director, Montage Laguna Beach
Victorio Gonzalez brings over twenty years of industry experience to Montage. Most recently, Mr. Gonzalez served as Director of Food and Beverage at Montage Beverly Hills. Previously he served as Director of Restaurants at Montage Laguna Beach since the hotel’s opening.
Prior to joining Montage, Mr. Gonzalez was the managing member of Executive Dining Consultants LLC, and managing partner of Restaurant Stone Ashley, in Tucson, Arizona. Other notable appointments include: general manager for three Mobil Five-Star Award winning restaurants: Renoir at The Mirage, Picasso at Bellagio, Las Vegas, and Mary Elaine’s at The Phoenician in Scottsdale. He was also general manager of the AAA Five Diamond Award winning Ventana Room at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort in Tucson, Arizona.
Mr. Gonzalez is a graduate of Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico in Mexico City, and attended the University of Arizona. He has received advanced certification from the Culinary Institute of America (NY) and Cornell University.
Derra Lee Edwards
Director of Learning, Montage Hotels & Resorts
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.
Director of Finance, Montage Laguna Beach
As Director of Finance, Rudy Blanco oversees the accounting, finance, and purchasing teams at Montage Laguna Beach. Bringing over 19 years of experience to his current position, Mr. Blanco is also tasked with leading and mentoring all resort managers to ensure optimal financial performance throughout hotel operations.
Since joining Montage in 2010, Mr. Blanco has focused his efforts on capital expenditure projects that have yielded strong return-on-investment results. Mr. Blanco has implemented an effective labor management system for more efficient forecasting, scheduling, and analysis that has since been adopted throughout Montage Hotels & Resorts. By conducting monthly financial meetings and increasing stakeholder accountability with key leaders of the management team, Mr. Blanco has contributed to the increased operating margins throughout the resort.
Prior to joining Montage Laguna Beach, Mr. Blanco served as Director of Finance at several Marriott properties in California and Arizona including the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel (where he was named Financial Leader of the Year for the brand) and the JW Marriott Camelback Inn Resort and Spa. An alumnus of San Jose State University, Rudy studied Business Administration and Accounting and later received a MBA from the Eller School of Management at the University of Arizona.
Mr. Blanco is a respected leader within the Montage family and is also an active Hearts of Montage member. He regularly participates in Hearts of Montage blood drives, beach clean ups, and the annual Adopt a Family holiday program. In his spare time, Mr. Blanco can be found on the sidelines at his son’s basketball games where he serves as the team’s coach. He is passionate about fitness and has completed two century bike rides (100 miles), a Half Iron Man competition and six marathons.
Rudy Blanco resides in Aliso Viejo with Gina, his wife of 14 years, and their nine year old son, Nathan.
Director of Rooms, Montage Laguna Beach
With over 17 years of hospitality experience, Mauricio Souza joined Montage Laguna Beach as Director of Rooms in 2011. In this role, he oversees the day-to-day operations of the rooms division for the resort, ensuring seamless service from all areas including: front desk, communications, reservations, concierge, valet parking, guest services, laundry, housekeeping, Paintbox and residential services.
Prior to joining Montage, Mr. Souza was the General Manager of Villas for Pelican Hill Resort in Newport Beach, California. Here he was responsible for daily operations, as well as strategic planning for future business.
Mr. Souza attended Florida Atlantic University where he studied Business Administration.
He was born in San Francisco, California and grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He currently resides in Irvine with his wife, Giseli and his three children.
Director of Human Resources, Montage Laguna Beach
As Director of Human Resources for Montage Laguna Beach, Jessica Ordonez-Steenblock is responsible for all matters pertaining to Montage Laguna Beach Associates, including overseeing and monitoring recruitment, compensation and benefit policies. She also ensures compliance with all applicable labor laws and provides direct and ongoing coaching and support to executive and management staff.
Most recently Mrs. Ordonez-Steenblock worked as Director of Human Resources at The Lodge at Torrey Pines, San Diego’s premier five-diamond hotel. Previously she has worked as a Corporate Training Manager at the Evans Hotel in San Diego. She has also held various key roles in hotel operations.
Mrs. Ordonez-Steenblock’s commitment to the human resources field and community is evident in her involvement with the Human Resources Association (HHRA) where she holds several board positions that have helped her stay connected to colleagues in the Orange County and Los Angeles area. Additionally, her passion for teaching and mentoring led her to San Diego State University where she has been an instructor for the past six years in the HR and Hospitality program.
She received her Bachelor of Science Degree in International Business from Pepperdine University and received a Masters Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from Alliant International University.
Mrs. Ordonez-Steenblock resides in San Diego, California with her husband and two children.
Director of Brand Sales, Montage Hotels & Resorts
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.