NEW YORK, New York (December 12, 2011) – Orient-Express Hotels Ltd., owners or part owners and managers of 49 luxury hotel, restaurant, tourist train and river cruise properties in 24 countries, today announced that it has appointed Ali V. Kasikci as Regional Managing Director for North America, Mexico and the Caribbean, effective January 30, 2012. As part of his responsibilities, Kasikci will manage the renovation, reopening and relaunch of El Encanto in Santa Barbara, California.
“Ali’s vast experience at the very top of the luxury hospitality industry and his intimate knowledge of the California market make him the ideal person to spearhead the establishment of the Orient-Express brand on the West Coast of the US,” said Filip Boyen, Chief Operating Officer, Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. “With his outstanding reputation as an inspirational mentor, leader and industry pioneer, we are very excited about the contribution Ali can make to the future development of Orient-Express.”
El Encanto is a Santa Barbara landmark that has long been recognized as one of the finest resorts in California. The Company’s first hotel on the US West Coast, El Encanto is being restored to the standards of style, design and service synonymous with Orient-Express properties. Upon reopening in late 2012, the hotel will have 92 keys in a seven acre landscaped garden setting. including restored California Craftsman style buildings dating from 1911 to 1918 and Spanish Colonial Revival cottages dating from the 1920s. The main building of the hotel will retain many original features and will house a fine dining restaurant, featuring local Santa Barbara County produce and wines, sited on a series of terraces with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and California’s Channel Islands. A favorite hideaway for stars from Hollywood’s golden era, the redeveloped El Encanto will feature an infinity edge swimming pool, tennis courts, state-of-the-art private event space, subterranean parking and a six room boutique spa.
In addition to spearheading the rebirth of El Encanto, Kasikci will also be responsible for the management of six of the Company’s existing portfolio – Keswick Hall, Virginia; The Inn at Perry Cabin, Maryland; La Samanna, St. Martin; Maroma Resort & Spa, Riviera Maya; and Casa de Sierra Nevada, San Miguel de Allende; and the iconic ’21’ Club restaurant and bar in New York City.
The Company’s largest property, Charleston Place, will continue to be operated by Regional Managing Director, Paul Stracey, reporting to Filip Boyen. This 435 key property in Charleston, South Carolina, delivers exceptional financial results as a result of an outstanding destination and consistently high standards of service.
Kasikci joins Orient-Express from the Hillcrest Country Club in Los Angeles, where as Chief Executive Officer & General Manager he oversaw a multi-million dollar renovation. Prior to this, Kasikci served as Vice-President of Strategic Planning & Development for Montage Hotels & Resorts, a position that followed the successful launch of Montage Beverly Hills, which Kasikci joined in 2007. From 1991 until September 2007, Kasikci helmed The Peninsula Beverly Hills, where under his management the hotel consistently achieved some of the highest ratings in the industry, including the highest RevPAR in its competitive set and the highest return guest ratio in the market, in addition to numerous credible service and facility accolades.
Orient-Express, the name behind a unique collection of luxury hotels and sophisticated adventure travel experiences, first came into being in 1883 as one of the world’s most exciting and indulgent train journeys. Today that evocative name also embraces hotels, cruises and luxury rail adventures in 24 countries, across five continents. The Company has offered exceptional luxury travel experiences since 1976, when it first purchased Hotel Cipriani in Venice and then shortly afterwards, recreated the celebrated Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, linking London, Paris and Venice, along with other European cities. Today, the company owns or part-owns and manages 49 businesses, 40 of which are highly acclaimed hotels, each individual in style, from the Mount Nelson in Cape Town and Rio’s Copacabana Palace, to the Grand Hotel Europe in St. Petersburg and Maroma Resort & Spa on Mexico’s Riviera Maya. There are six luxury tourist trains, two river cruise operations and the ’21’ Club, one of New York’s most iconic restaurants and watering holes.