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Australia’s newest operator Crystalbrook reveals star-studded leadership team

Newly formed Australian headquartered hotel group, Crystalbrook Collection, has announced its executive leadership team.

Following an extensive global recruitment search, CEO Mark Davie has appointed Geoff York as Group Director, Hotels; Laura Davie as Group Director, Operations and HR; Kylie Brajak as Group Director, Global Sales and Distribution; Katie Malone as Group Director, Marketing; and David Kotze as Director, Hotel Systems.

To date, Crystalbrook Collection has committed AU$370 million in investment to develop three distinctive lifestyle-savvy hotels in Cairns. Combined, these hotels will add more than 900 rooms to the city and the company says investments in other key Australian locations are expected in the near future.

“I’m thrilled Crystalbrook Collection has been able to acquire such high calibre professionals and I have every confidence in their ability to lead the company in Australia and beyond,” Davie said.

Combined, the leadership team has worked with many of the world’s most prominent hospitality groups including Marriott, Starwood, IHG, Carlson Rezidor, Accor, Hilton, Event, Fairmont, Jumeirah and Langham as well as with individual brands including St Regis, Sofitel, W Hotels, Luxury Collection, Sheraton, Le Meridien, Radisson, Atura and Eventhouse.

The team has extensive international experience with members having worked throughout Australia, United Kingdom, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, South Africa, Indonesia, Thailand and New Zealand. In addition to hospitality, the company’s leaders have experience across a multitude of industries including international business, aviation, automotive, online travel, luxury retail, IT and FMCG.

“Hospitality is a demanding industry and I don’t underestimate the task I have set the team,” said Davie.

“In addition to experience, I needed leaders that could create strong team cohesion and who have the ability to be agile, fast-thinking and capable of evolving with the ever-changing nature of a start-up business.”

Over the next 12 months, the leadership team will be responsible for developing the Crystalbrook Collection brand and ethos as well as building a staff of 150 people in preparation for the opening of the first hotel in 2018.

Mark Davie, CEO
Mark is a long-term colleague and business partner of Crystalbrook Collection sole investor Ghassan Aboud. Since 2011, Mark has been leading Ghassan’s business diversification strategy and has held the position of CEO for Ghassan Aboud Group Australia (GA Group Australia). GA Group Australia made the decision to enter the hospitality sector in 2013. The first hospitality acquisition was completed in 2016 at which time Mark also took on the role of CEO for Crystalbrook Collection. Mark has had an extensive career spanning several decades in international business and automotive including 12 years spent working in Dubai and one year in Japan.

Geoff York, Group Director, Hotels
Geoff has more than 35 years’ senior hospitality experience with extensive corporate and operational expertise gained working throughout Australia and in Singapore, China, India and Malaysia. Most recently, Geoff was the Director of Operations and Development at Event Hospitality and Entertainment where he launched the Atura and Eventhouse hotel brands.

Laura Davie, Group Director, Operations and HR
Laura has been appointed to progress Crystalbrook Collection to an employer of choice overseeing the full HR lifecycle as well as business operations. She brings with her a decade’s HR experience with strong experience in FMCG and luxury retail. Most recently Laura ran her own boutique HR company where she was responsible for tailoring HR solutions for small and medium sized businesses.

Kylie Brajak, Group Director, Global Sales and Distribution
Kylie will oversee Crystalbrook Collection’s global sales and distribution strategy, managing all business segments including leisure, wholesale, corporate, groups, meetings and events. She joins the company with 30 years’ experience managing customers in Asia Pacific, United Kingdom, Europe, CIS, USA and the Middle East. Most recently she was responsible for the global leisure and luxury sales and distribution strategy for Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide.

Katie Malone, Group Director, Marketing
Katie will oversee the marketing strategy for Crystalbrook Collection, managing brand development, advertising, public relations, sponsorship, social media and digital strategy. She has more than 15 years travel marketing experience spanning hotels, aviation and online travel throughout Australia, Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates and New Zealand. Most recently, Katie was based in Abu Dhabi overseeing marketing for St. Regis.

David Kotze, Director, Hotel Systems
David is a seasoned IT hospitality professional with more than 30 years’ experience working throughout South Africa, the United Kingdom, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Throughout his career David has worked on more than 50 hotel openings and project managed 23 hotel openings. Most recently he led the hospitality sector for IT corporation Systemnet.

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