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Driskill Hotel

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The Driskill Ushers in a New Era of Tradition and Legendary Service

AUSTIN, TX-March 31, 2008-As part of Destination Hotels & Resort's (DH&R) portfolio of luxury hotels and with John Spomer at the helm as Managing Director, the legendary Driskill Hotel is poised to solidify its claim as "the elite hotel of Texas" well into yet another century. Built in 1886 by cattle baron Jesse Driskill, the landmark at the corner of Sixth and Brazos streets in downtown Austin has long stood as one of the Lone Star State's most familiar icons. Built in the opulent Renaissance Revival style during the height of Victorian architecture, the hotel embodies time-honored traditions of the last two centuries, while at the same time moving forward with cosmetic and technological upgrades necessary to accommodate 21st century guests.

The blending of tradition and innovation forms the crux of a $4.5 million transformation project that began in January with a refurbishing of the 1886 Café & Bakery-long regarded as "Austin's socializing parlor"-and continues through the summer with a complete update and makeover of all guest rooms. This follows an extensive $25 million, top-to-bottom restoration of the property less than 10 years ago. Dallas-based design firm Vivian Nichols & Associates has created interior décor that retains the historical essence of the rooms while incorporating contemporary, yet classic features that make the rooms more conducive for guests to conduct business while in house.

"We are ushering in a new era of The Driskill Hotel," says Spomer, who assumed the managing director position last fall. "We are fortunate to be charged as caretakers of one of the most treasured landmarks in Texas."

Spomer, a 19-year veteran of the hospitality industry and vice president of operations for DH&R, assumed the managing director position last fall. In his role of overseeing day-to-day operations at The Driskill, he also manages operations at the hotel's sister property in Houston, The ICON. He began his career with the hotel management corporation as food and beverage director and director of operations at the Inverness Hotel in Denver and later moved to Hotel del Coronado near San Diego as director of operations. He most recently worked at corporate headquarters in Denver.

As Spomer moves The Driskill forward in solidifying its position as the elite hotel of Texas, he announces, "The Driskill's new era involves more than just upgrades to our guestrooms and outlets. We've been fortunate to attract some of the country's finest talent and are very excited about our complement of new leaders and the experience they bring to the hotel and Austin."

 Several new members recently joined The Driskill's management team. They include Chef Jonathan Gelman, director of culinary operations; David Ricci, human resources director; Tom Moore, director of engineering; and Len Hollandsworth, director of security and loss prevention.

For more than 20 years, Chef Gelman has cooked at some of the country's most luxurious hotels, resorts and wineries. He most recently served as executive chef of L'Auberge de Sedona Resort and Spa in Sedona, AZ and previously as executive sous chef for the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa. Having received his culinary training at California Culinary Academy, he also owned and served as executive chef of Napa Gardens Catering in Napa Valley. As director of culinary operations for The Driskill Hotel, he oversees and directs all of the hotel's culinary operations.

Ricci comes to The Driskill from the Doubletree Universal Hotel in Orlando, FL where he also served as director of human resources. In addition, he brings an experienced training background, primarily from his stint at the Hilton Torrey Pines in San Diego. Moore arrives at the historic landmark from another of Texas' most famous hotels. His experience as director of engineering at The Galvez, Tremont House and Harbor House hotels in Galveston provides him with the unique perspective of working with challenges that are often inherent with historic buildings.  Acclimating to Austin's football fanaticism should be easy for Hollandsworth, who played football at the University of Utah and briefly for the Detroit Lions. He has also worked loss prevention at some of the country's most luxurious resorts, including the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver, Four Seasons Newport Beach and the Breakers Hotel and Resort in Palm Beach, FL.

"The Driskill has always maintained a unique position of providing an elite level of service and Texas hospitality that is unsurpassed in the market," Spomer explains. "To continue that same excellence across the board, we looked carefully at every aspect of our operation and then sought out the very best person in that field. I am confident that we are assembling a premier team of leaders, managers and associates at this hotel. Our guests come to The Driskill expecting a memorable and unique experience, and we pledge to offer this consistently. That, along with our legendary history and the lore of this property, sets us apart."

This year-long transformation at The Driskill not only affects structural and cosmetic changes, but also rolls out several new signature offerings, including the introduction of a late summer promotional campaign-"Driskill Days"-and the holiday "12 Days of Driskill" promotion. Both campaigns capture the nostalgia of the hotel's legendary grandeur, from its Victorian opening through the excitement of the hundreds of political and elegant social events that have taken place within the hotel to its current reign as the cornerstone of Austin's hip, vibrant downtown scene.

"We're thrilled to introduce new events and traditions that allow the hotel to embrace the community that has for decades embraced The Driskill," adds Spomer. "We already have the most precious gem in Texas; all we're doing is polishing her for a bit more sparkle."


The Driskill Hotel is one of more than 30 independent, upscale and luxury hotels, resorts and golf clubs in the United States managed by Destination Hotels & Resorts, the fifth largest independent hospitality management company in the country. The company, headquartered in suburban Denver, Colo., features a portfolio of more than 7,000 guest rooms, 10 golf courses and 11 full-service spas. Destination Hotels & Resorts properties are located in key metropolitan and resort markets including Washington, D.C., Houston, Denver, Santa Fe, San Diego, Aspen, Austin, Phoenix, Portland, Palm Springs, Maui and Lake Tahoe. For more information on the properties in the Destination Hotels & Resorts collection, please visit http://www.destinationhotels.com/.


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