Benjamin Rafter, who has served as president and CEO of Aqua Hotels and Resorts since 2008, will now take on the dual role of president of Aston Hotels & Resorts.
In addition, Matt Bailey, who joined Aston earlier this year as its chief operating officer, also has been appointed Aqua’s COO. The changes come about five months after Vacation Holdings Hawaii (VHH), a subsidiary of Miami-based Interval Leisure Group and owner of Aston Hotels & Resorts, bought Aqua Hospitality/Aqua Hotels & Resorts. The deal, which closed in December for an undisclosed amount, united two Hawaii hotel management powerhouses, who were once fierce competitors. Since the acquisition, both businesses have maintained separate leadership and images.
“Recognizing the combined strength and market penetration that Aqua and Aston offer with their dynamic collection of hotels and resorts, I’m confident that Ben is the right person to lead both companies and meet the growing demand for accommodations in Hawaii as well other destinations,” said Kelvin Bloom, who will remain president of Vacation Holdings Hawaii, in which he has an equity interest. “With Ben and Matt serving in these key roles, my focus will be on new business development and continuing to expand our management portfolios domestically and internationally.”
To be sure, under Rafter’s leadership Aqua has grown from a mid-size, Oahu-focused hospitality operator to regional hotel management company with 29 hotels and resorts across six Hawaiian Islands and Guam. Likewise, Bailey has over 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry, most recently serving as managing director at the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa on Maui, where he was responsible for overseeing more than 1,500 employees.