Delaware North Out As Operator Of Queen Mary

By Tiffany Rider, Staff Writer

Less than two years after it took over management of the Queen Mary and surrounding property, Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts (DNC) is out.

On April 20, DNC announced the ending of its relationship with Save the Queen, LLC, as the management operator of the Queen Mary. That same day was the last on the job for Uwe Roggenthien, general manger of the Queen Mary; Paul Haught, manager of special events; and Bruce Skidmore, director of sales and marketing. Save the Queen spokesperson Long Nguyen told the Business Journal the termination of the relationship was “an amicable business decision to separate.”

Save the Queen, operated by the New York-based Garrison Investment Group, selected DNC – a nearly century-old multi-billion dollar global firm with expertise in food service, hospitality management, lodging, travel hospitality, retail, sports facilities management, etc. – to manage the Queen Mary operation and adjoining property in September 2009. DNC replaced Hostmark Hospitality Group, which had been named operator of the Queen Mary in late 2007.

A letter dated April 20 told the associates of the Queen Mary, “. . . Delaware North has helped achieve its goals of rebranding the attraction with targeted marketing, renovation of the ship’s staterooms, as well as some of the restaurants and meeting spaces. These have resulted in increased occupancy and higher revenue in lodging, food and beverage, retail and attractions. Thus, Save the Queen is in a strong position as it begins the next chapter in the management of this national attraction.”

Several people involved with the city who wished anonymity said they were surprised by the transition since DNC had exceeded expectations. “This is a top tier management company recognized worldwide for its operations, so, yes, this is a big surprise,” one individual said.

Garrison named Eddie Timmons the acting general manager of the ship, assisting with the transition from DNC. According to Timmons, Garrison already has some “very strong” candidates lined up, with the final company to take over operations in the next 30 to 60 days.

Timmons said Garrison tapped him for the job after working with the investment group, “on a number of projects.” Timmons has worked in the hospitality business for more than 20 years, 13 of which were with Starwood in food and beverage service. Timmons has also worked at several hotels, and before he began his working relationship with Garrison he was the vice president of food and beverage operations at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, a 2,500-room property on the strip.

According to Timmons, his prior experience working on historic properties, such as the 100-year-old Boston Park Plaza property has provided him the know-how to operate a historic site such as the Queen Mary.

Although he is currently in an acting position, there is a possibility he could be hired on permanently. The assistant director of sales and marketing, Ken Tippie, who came onboard in February 2011, is currently handling the director of sales and marketing position. Garrison “investment folks” are handling the director of events position, Timmons said.

Timmons says he is happy with how the transition has been thus far. “It’s been going very smoothly,” he said. “Everyone is very receptive.” Garrison and Timmons have been in communications with Long Beach City Manager Pat West, Vice Mayor/Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal (whose council district includes the Queen Mary) and Long Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau President/CEO Steve Goodling.

Timmons’ first experience with the Queen Mary was in his early teenage years, and 30 years later, the acting general manager said he has definitely noticed the dramatic changes the ship has undergone. “This is kind of an interesting transition for myself to come back to a property that I visited 30 years ago,” he says. “It’s absolutely such a beautiful property, and they’ve done such a good job with the renovation and the restoration of, especially, the outlets at this point and the guestrooms. It looks like it’s going to be a fun and exciting period as we move forward.”

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