Former president & chief executive officer
The leading hotels of the world
Ted Teng was the president and chief executive officer of The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd. Since joining the company in 2008, Mr. Teng had been dedicated to reigniting the 90-year-old brand. Holding firm to his motto, “Preserve, Enhance, and Invent,” Mr. Teng had honored Leading Hotels’ commitment to the art of independent hotel-keeping and core values of excellence, while creating an innovative and modern Leading Hotels.
He focused on reimagining and redefining a differentiated business model to successfully lead the company into the future. Through a collaborative approach with the collection’s more than 400 hotel members, the model fosters co-creation and innovation opportunities with passionate and like-minded hoteliers.
Mr. Teng’s 40-year career is rooted in the global hospitality industry. Prior to joining The Leading Hotels of the World, he led the growth of some of the world’s most prominent hotel brands, serving as President, Chief Operating Officer of Wyndham International, Inc., and president, Asia-Pacific, for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., following the merger of Starwood Lodging, Westin, and Sheraton.
During his career Mr. Teng has received numerous awards including: Cornell Hospitality Innovator Award, Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, Frank H. T. Rhodes Exemplary Alumni Service Award, Cornell University, Spirit of Asian America Award, Asian American Federation, Honoree, Cornell Asian Alumni Association, AABDC Pinnacle Award, and the Asian American Business Development Center.
A graduate of the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, Mr. Teng has an MBA from the University of Hawaii. A global citizen, he was born in Shanghai, China, grew up in Hong Kong, and emigrated to the U.S. at age 13 becoming a U.S. citizen soon after.
principal & CEO
bickson hospitality group
Raymond N. Bickson, internationally recognized hotelier, has 40 years of global hospitality industry experience in the US, Europe, Australia and Asia. Prior to founding Bickson Hospitality Group LLC, a global hospitality consultancy, Raymond spent 12- years in Mumbai as Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer for Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, growing the company’s $1 billion portfolio from 62 to 137 hotels under four differentiated brands, overseeing and significantly expanding diversified interests in wellness, restaurants, transportation, airline catering and real estate for India’s Tata Group of companies.
A graduate of Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne Switzerland, Raymond holds advanced management certificates from Harvard Business School and Cornell Hotel School. Prior experience includes 27-years in management positions with The Rafael Group Hoteliers Monaco, Regent International Hotels Hong Kong and Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group Hong Kong. Based in New York, Raymond has over 20-years of New York experience at The Mark Hotel (15-years), The Pierre – A Taj Hotel (7-years) and The Mayfair Regent of New York (2-years).
Raymond currently serves as a member on the Board of Trustees of The Culinary Institute of America (CIA). He was a member of the Executive Committee of The Leading Hotels of the World (LHW) Zurich Switzerland (2004-2016) as well as Chairman of the Remuneration Committee. He also served as a member of The International Advisory Board of the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL) in Switzerland (2004-2019).
For over 45 years Eric Calderon has successfully executed his vision of combining personalized hospitality with sustainable profitability in the upper tier luxury resort market. Eric’s comprehensive experience in luxury hotels and resorts and his interaction with discerning international clients stems from his Swiss hotel school training and distinguished career in some of the most coveted hospitality destinations in the world.
During Calderon’s tenure as Chief Operating Officer of Auberge Resorts Collection the company added six properties, including two Mobil 5 Star hotels and Michelin 1 Star restaurant. The company’s market valuation increased three-fold during this period. As the Chief Operating Officer of Ty Warner Hotels & Resorts, a collection of iconic branded luxury hotels, resorts, and golf clubs, Eric’s responsibilities included asset management of hotel brands including Four Seasons and Rosewood, achieving the highest RevPAR and profit margins in their respective markets.
Eric has served on both the National and International boards of Relais & Chateaux, and brings in depth familiarity with many of their European and North American hotels.
Paula A. Argento
Argento Hospitality and Venture Group
Paula Argento, Esq. has advised on numerous hospitality investment transactions. She has served as co-chair to the advisory board for the Boutique and Lifestyle Lodging Association. She is the Managing Director of Argento Global, an international advisory firm specializing in hospitality and real estate investment, private equity, debt finance, and corporate and family office representation, both in the US and abroad.
A certified Family Office Professional, Paula is also a principal to the Argento International Law Firm in Washington DC. She previously served as a staff counsel to the US Senate Judiciary Committee, providing legislative counsel on a wide range of issues, including the nomination hearing of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
She provides counsel on acquisitions, investment partnerships, corporate and operational contracts, deal structuring, corporate board and family governance, and risk and litigation management.
Paula’s luxury hotel consulting has included: the rebranding of a Dominican Republic Cap Cana ,financing of the Fairmont Austin, due diligence assignment on the Ritz Carlton, San Francisco, negotiation for a proposed luxury resort, residences and golf course in Cam Rahn Bay, Viet Nam, and advisory on the financing of a Gold Coast, AU luxury resort development, in anticipation of the 2032 Australian Olympics.
A graduate of Boston College, Paula holds a law degree (JD) from the Catholic University of America and a Master’s degree in Banking and Finance Law (LLM) from the Boston University Law School. She also holds an Advanced Certificate in Hotel Real Estate Investment and Asset Management from Cornell University.
Global Director: Travel, Transportation & Hospitality
Shane O’Flaherty is the Global Director of Travel, Transportation & Hospitality for Microsoft and is focused on leading the hotel, airline, cruise and logistics industry in driving innovation that will enhance the customer and employee journey, while driving increased productivity and cost compression with the use of Microsoft’s technology and its eco-system of travel solution partners.
Prior to joining Microsoft, Shane held many senior executive positions including CEO & President at Forbes Travel Guide (formerly Mobil Travel Guide). At Forbes Travel Guide, Shane successfully modernized the hotel, restaurant and spa Five Star ratings system that defines the global consumer experience and spearheaded its global expansion. In addition, he created and grew Forbes Travel Guide Consulting Services into the leading, global provider of customer experience measurement and training for the top hospitality brands in the world.
Shane was also Director of Business and Leisure Marketing for Preferred Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. In that capacity, he orchestrated marketing programs for their luxury hotels worldwide and directed Preferred’s hotel quality assurance program. Shane has spoken at many industry and client conferences globally and also appeared on Today Show, Fox and Friends, Bloomberg, Channel NewsAsia and quoted in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA TODAY and many other global publications, highlighting the travel and hospitality space.
Mr. Sonnenblick is a Co-Founder and Principal of Sonnenblick- Eichner Company. Prior to forming Sonnenblick-Eichner Company, Mr. Sonnenblick was a major shareholder and managing partner of Sonnenblick-Goldman Company, a national real estate advisory firm. Throughout Mr. Sonnenblick’s career, he has been active in the origination of real estate equity and debt transactions, for all product types of real estate. Mr. Sonnenblick has closed in excess of $15 billion of real estate transactions on behalf of his clients, and he continues to focus his efforts on seeking new and innovative capital sources for real estate transactions.
Mr. Sonnenblick attended the University of Denver where he was an honor student and completed his studies at the University of Colorado where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics in 1982. He is a California licensed real estate broker and a frequently sought speaker at real estate seminars and conferences. Mr. Sonnenblick is a Governor of the Urban Land Institute, a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers, and a member of the International Advisory Board of the University of Colorado Real Estate Center. Mr. Sonnenblick’s philanthropic activities include being a trustee of National Jewish Health in Denver, Colorado.
Board Member and Chair of the Audit Committee
Realty Income Corporation
Mr. Merriman is an experienced financial leader with a legacy of involvement in various global issues in the fields of accounting, business law and corporate ethics. He is a retired Vice Chairman and partner of KPMG LLP, a global accounting and consulting firm where he served as Vice Chairman of the Executive Management Committee, Area Managing Partner for the Pacific Region and Global Head of the firm’s Transportation & Logistics Practice and its Healthcare & Life Sciences Practice. He also served as the firm’s U.S National Liaison Partner to the firm’s Asian Offices.
Mr. Merriman previously served on the Board of Directors of Haemonetics Corporation, a global medical device company. Similarly, he served as a Board member and Chair of the Audit Committee of Aircastle Limited until its acquisition.
He is now serving as a Board Member and Chair of the Audit Committee of Realty Income Corporation. Mr. Merriman is also a member of the Board of Directors and Chair of the Audit Committee of nVent Electric plc, a global electrical public company and serves on the Board of Directors at Preferred Hotels & Resorts, a global family-owned private hospitality company.
Hans Maissen has enjoyed an illustrious career in hotel development and management in Europe, the Middle East, Caribbean, Africa and the United States. He recently developed and created the operating concepts for the Monastero Santa Rosa on the Amalfi Coast, ranked by Conde Nast as one of the top resorts in Italy.
Maissen created the vision for the world class resort and beach club in Cap Ferrat when appointed as director of hotel operations at the Grand hotel du Cap Ferrat. The property soon became home to entrepreneurs, Wall Street executives, industry leaders and well known entertainers. During his tenure at the GHDCF he planned and executed a total refurbishment, restoring the hotel to its former splendor.
For seven years Maissen also was Managing Director of the Windsor Court Hotel New Orleans that was named 4 times Number One Hotel in the US and one time Number One Hotel in the world by Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice. Prior to that Maissen held various management positions throughout the world including Regional Director Marriott Hotels Saudi Arabia and Athens Greece opening several Marriott Hotels.
Maissen Hospitality in it’s almost 20 years of existence has been involved in the planning and executing of several Hotels in the Caribbean and Central America with exceptional experience in global hospitality development and operations.
Founder, Cripplegate Investments
Terry Petty has over twenty years of hotel and resort experience with Ritz-Carlton Hotels and Marriott International as well as The Irvine Company. As Executive Vice President for Marriott International, he held P&L responsibility for Marriott’s U. S. and Canadian hotels. In this role, he served on the Executive Committee of Marriott Corporation and Chairman of the Hotel Development Committee.
While most of Terry’s Marriott career was spent in hotel operations, he also served in the role of VP Strategic Planning responsible for developing a sales strategy for Marriott’s hotels, and was in charge of the operations for Marriott’s entry into the time-share business.
Terry has also worked for The Irvine Company, McKinsey & Company, Procter & Gamble, Ogilvy & Mather, and ABM Industries.
He is a graduate of Stanford University (BA), and Columbia University (MBA).