Michael Paulin, Founder & Director, Aqua Hotels & Resorts. Michael designed his first Hawaiian vacation experience upon graduating from the University of Southern California. It was 1964, and the idea of “Condo/Car Holidays” was a new concept in Kauai. Together with Los Angeles entrepreneur Peter Ueberroth, Michael acquired a travel agency and began merchandising villas and apartments as travel packages. Six short years later, this venture formed Colony Hotels, which later became the fourth largest condominium/hotel management company in Hawaii. In 1978, Michael teamed with renowned Hawaii hotelier Andre S. Tatibouet to create Aston Hotels & Resorts. Soon, with the largest Hotel-Condo management company and one of the largest operators of vacation accommodations, the concept of “condotel” was born. Nine years later, Michael left Aston to spearhead his own management company, Marc Hotels & Resorts.
Over the next ten years, Michael grew Marc Hotels & Resorts into one of the largest and most successful hotel operations in Hawaii, managing 22 properties throughout the Hawaiian Islands. In 1997, he sold Marc Hotels & Resorts to Sunterra. He returned to Hawaii in early 2000 to form Aqua Hotels & Resorts, which launched in 2001.
Michael is recognized internationally for his work. He serves as Chairman of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), which is the world’s largest public-private tourist organization, and has been awarded a prestigious PATA Life Membership. In 1996, Michael’s colleagues throughout the hotel industry honored him as Chairman of the Hawaii Hotel Association.
With his heart and home in Hawaii, Michael looks forward to collaborating with both local and mainland Hotel-Condo investors, and continuing to develop this fast-growing segment of the tourism industry. [Top]
Benjamin Rafter, President & CEO. For more than fifteen years Ben has been guiding successful e-commerce and technology companies. He has created global innovation centers, acted as a principal strategist for several G1000 and startup companies, founded successful companies of his own and worked with numerous hospitality and e-commerce clients.
Most recently he was president and CEO of JetAway/Travelworm, a Wasserstein & Co.-owned, online travel retailer focusing on casino and leisure vacation markets across the United States. Prior to JetAway/Travelworm, Ben was president and CEO of Get2Hawaii™, a dynamic packaging technology company and online aggregator of travel inventory.
Previously Ben directed Cambridge Technology Partners’ Innovation Center and NewCo Solutions practices. In this role, Ben managed the practice and was responsible for major business development activities. In 1996, Ben and two partners founded Innerlinx (renamed LiveBid). Acquired by Amazon.com for a significant return to investors, Livebid’s real-time auction model was the recognized leader in the space.
Ben began his career in the marketing and distribution department of Westin Hotels & Resorts. In various roles, including emerging technologies manager, he helped create one of the first hospitality sites and booking engines on the Web and significantly expanded Westin’s Premier frequency program through the use of database marketing.
Ben is an active participant in angel investor and startup communities and serves on various boards for hospitality and technology companies. In his current position at Aqua Hotels & Resorts, Ben is charged with advancing the company’s global growth strategy.[Top]
Veronica Saba, Senior Vice-President. In her more than 25 years in the hospitality industry, Veronica Saba has opened, transitioned and/or renovated over 25 hotels and has served in a range of responsibilities, including managing director/vice president, general manager, director of sales and marketing, reservations manager and revenue manager.
Before joining Aqua Hotels and Resorts, Veronica held several responsible positions with both Joie de Vivre Hospitality and Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants. She was one of the first members of Joie de Vivre’s executive team. She opened up the company’s Silicon Valley division and also had direct oversight of its San Francisco hotels. She also served on the opening team for Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants.
Veronica also has considerable experience with the upscale, luxury hotel and corporate apartment markets, having worked with such prestigious chains as Inter*Continental and Fairmont Hotels. She also served as district manager for Oakwood Worldwide, in which capacity she had direct oversight for sales and marketing and managed over 700 units from Wine Country to the East Bay and Silicon Valley. Oakwood Worldwide played host to such groups as Cirque du Soleil and several Broadway shows.
Among the boards on which Veronica has served are the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau (now the San Francisco Travel Association), the Silicon Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce, the San Francisco Hotel Council and the Union Square Association.[Top]
Elizabeth Churchill, Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing. Beth started with Aqua in late 2005 when the chain had five hotels all located in Waikiki. By early 2006 it was evident Aqua needed to be rebranded so she conceived Aqua Boutique Hotels. In addition to creating all brand standards and matching guest services initiatives, Beth was responsible for implementing the “Aqua 10” still used on a daily basis within the Aqua chain. As Aqua quickly grew, so did Beth’s responsibilities to include oversight of all top line revenue generating divisions: Sales, Online and Offline Marketing, Revenue Management and Reservations. Beth’s commitment to the overall growth and success of Aqua shows in today’s chain of 23 hotels on all six major Hawaiian Islands.
A Syracuse University graduate with a B.S. Degree in Advertising, Beth started her career in New York City at advertising agencies Chiat/Day and Grey prior to moving to Honolulu to work for Peck Sims Mueller on the Maui Visitors Bureau and Prince Resorts Hawaii accounts. She then joined Reed Travel Group, the world’s largest travel publishing company, as Regional Director overseeing all sales and marketing activities for Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. During this time she served as President of TTRA (Travel and Tourism Research Association) Hawaii Chapter, Education and Environmental Chair of the PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association) Hawaii Chapter, board member of SMEI (Sales and Marketing Executives International) and the Business Enterprises for Sustainable Travel (BEST) Think Tank on Sustainable Tourism. Beth is one of the original members of Aqua’s Executive Committee and a 20 year resident of Hawaii.
William R. Farnsworth, Jr., Chief Financial Officer. William “Bill” Farnsworth was promoted to Chief Financial Officer in April 2012. Formerly Vice President of Finance, Farnsworth oversees all aspects of Aqua Hotels & Resort’s financial and accounting activities. Farnsworth’s career spans 35 years in the hospitality industry with a diverse background in hotel, condotel and resort finance and operations.
In management, Bill has served as Controller, Food and Beverage Director and General Manager in resorts and commercial hotels. His executive positions have included CFO and SVP Operations for multi-property hotel, resort and timeshare management companies on the mainland and in Hawaii.
Throughout his career, Bill has worked with upscale city commercial hotels, mid-market vacation properties and condominium resort rental pools, including RockResorts, a five-star destination resort in the Caribbean, New England, Wyoming and Hawaii. He has also led new hotel openings and transitioned numerous properties to new ownership or management.
With Aqua, Bill oversees financial relationships with owners and lenders and the financial analysis and feasibility of new projects. He is responsible for all hotel and homeowner association accounting; financial reporting, analysis, forecasting; and Aqua’s tax reporting, audit and treasury functions.
He completed undergraduate studies in hotel administration at Cornell University and earned his MBA at the University of Hawaii.[Top]
William Henderson, Vice President of Development. During his more than 35-year business career in Hawaii, Bill has held senior executive positions in a range of tourism, hospitality and transportation entities throughout Hawaii and the Pacific Region, including involvement in development, management, marketing, finance, operations, and virtually all aspects of the travel industry.
In the hospitality industry, Bill most recently served as Vice President of Business Development for Outrigger Hotels & Resorts, where he planned and executed growth and diversification efforts that resulted in the transformation of a company that owned and/or operated 20 hotels (18 in Waikiki) in Hawaii, to a Pacific-wide regional power with more than 50 hotels/resorts throughout the Hawaiian Islands, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Guam, Palau, Majuro and French Polynesia.
Prior to Outrigger, Bill served as Regional VP for Colony Resorts, where he grew their portfolio from 7 to 17 resorts, and increased revenues three-fold. He also led Colony’s expansion to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina and Park City, Utah.
In the transportation sector, Bill held executive-level positions that included positions as Senior VP Marketing and Services for Hawaiian Airlines, VP Marketing and Sales for Aloha Airlines, and Executive VP for South Pacific Airlines.
Throughout his career, Bill has been actively involved in both the travel industry and the community. He previously served on both the Marketing and Research committees for HVB; Marketing Authority and Board of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA International); Board of International Hawaiian Canoe Association; Board of Australia-Hawaii Chamber of Commerce; adjunct teacher of Travel Marketing at Hawaii Pacific University; and Strategic Marketing instructor for the Exec Development Institute for Tourism at UH. [Top]
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