Montage Hotels & Resorts is comprised of a team of extraordinarily talented individuals who are accomplished in their specialized fields.
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.
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.