BRAND CHANGES AT THE TOP

Two hotel companies — one a behemoth and one a start-up — have new leaders. Last month, Choice Hotels elevated Joe Squeri to president and chief operating officer. The company also named CEO Chuck Ledsinger as vice chairman of the Maryland-based, 10-brand hotel company.

Also last month, veteran franchising executive Steve Belmonte joined Vantage Hospitality as CEO, president and partner of The Lexington Collection, the company's new more-upscale brand.

Squeri's promotion was the result of his natural progression at the company. Since joining the firm in 1997 as vice president and controller, Squeri has had a series of promotions, including one last year in which he was named executive vice president, operations and chief financial officer.

“We've integrated the operating functions of the company, including international, marketing and reservations, under me, while Chuck concentrates on strategic and financial issues,” says Squeri. “Our new brands are unique products that require more attention to manage.”

To support Squeri in his new role, the company made several other appointments: Michael DeSantis to senior VP, senior strategic advisor and corporate secretary; Paul Mamalian to general counsel; David White to CFO; and Scott Oaksmith to controller.

While new to membership organizations like Lexington, Belmonte has years of experience in hotel franchising. During most of the 1990s, he was president and CEO of Ramada.

The Lexington Collection is Vantage's move into the midscale and upscale segments. Its Freestyle Membership Model offers members short-term contracts, no liquidated damages and a menu of amenities from which to choose.

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