McLEAN, Va. – (January 19, 2010) – Embassy Suites Hotels recently announced the induction of the brand’s third annual “Circle of Leadership” class, which includes six of the brand’s top general managers who will have the opportunity to participate in the year-long training program.  The elite program, which began in 2008, is designed to provide individualized coaching and leadership development that directly supports the Embassy Suites Hotels service statement --“Gracious, engaging and caring. Making a difference in the lives of others, in ways both big and small.”

The program acknowledges leaders who demonstrate great potential within the brand and provides them with additional resources to enhance the performance of their hotels.  Key initiatives at Embassy Suites Hotels coupled with a concentration on professional development are two of the major focuses within the program, which involves a series of webinars facilitated by Bixler Consulting Group of Atlanta.

“We’re very excited to induct our third group of GM’s into the Circle of Leadership,” said Jim Holthouser, global head of Embassy Suites and full service brands, Hilton Worldwide.  “The program has proven to be a huge success with the last two classes and we look forward to another great year.  The program we’ve developed with Bixler Consulting gives these GMs the tools they need to achieve maximum success for their respective properties.”

Newly-inducted Circle of Leadership members include:

  • Timothy Billing – Embassy Suites San Luis Obispo (San Luis Obispo, Calif.)
  • Brian Clark – Embassy Suites Laredo (Laredo, Texas)
  • Mark Gundlach – Embassy Suites Albuquerque - Hotel & Spa (Albuquerque, N.M.)
  • Geoffrey Thompson – Embassy Suites Detroit - Metro Airport (Detroit, Mich.)
  • Robert Barenberg – Embassy Suites Myrtle Beach Oceanfront (Myrtle Beach, S.C.)
  • Russell Masami Tanakaya Embassy Suites Brea - North Orange County (Brea, Calif.)

During the program, each general manager will complete a series of five leadership assessments with a focus on best demonstrated practices and leadership skills.  The main objective is to create self-awareness, professional growth and more assured decision-making.   Group members will receive monthly assignments that require the application of their newly-learned skills.   Additionally, each general manager will receive DVDs, books and articles they can use for implementation with their teams.

More on the General Managers:

  • Tim Billing has been general manager at Embassy Suites San Luis Obispo since 2006 and was honored with the brand’s “Hervey Feldman General Manager of the Year” award in 2009. 
  • Brian Clark, general manager of the brand’s Laredo property, garnered a position in the Top Quality Score (top 10 percent) in 2008 and 2009, and ranked fifth in the first quarter of 2010 for all Embassy Suites Hotels.
  • Mark Gundlach has been with John Q. Hammons Hotels for 30 years, serving as general manager at nine hotels, including Embassy Suites Albuquerque since 2005. Gundlach also serves as Chairman of the Visit Albuquerque which serves the Albuquerque tourism, hospitality and business community.
  • Geoffrey Thompson is a 17-year employee of Cooper Hotels, which operates 24 hotels across the U.S., and currently serves on the board of directors for the Detroit Area Hilton Family of Brands Cooperative. 
  • Robert Barenberg, who has been with Embassy Suites for nearly 20 years, has won multiple awards with the brand, including two “Highest Revpar Index” awards and a “Most Improved Revpar Index” award. 
  • Russell Masami Tanakaya, who has more than 32 years of hotel industry experience, has won several awards with Hilton Worldwide, including the highest individual honor, the “Spirit of Pride” award; he is also involved in many aspects of his community. 

About Embassy Suites Hotels
Founded in 1984, Embassy Suites Hotels defines the upscale, all-suites segment and today has 208 hotels, with an additional 34 in the pipeline. With spacious two-room suites, engaging team members and an inviting atrium environment, guests are welcome to put their feet up and feel right at home. Embassy Suites’ complimentary, cooked-to-order breakfast helps guests gear up for their day, while the nightly Manager’s Reception with free appetizers and beverages offers guests a great way to wind down. To learn more, visit

About Hilton Worldwide
Hilton Worldwide is the leading global hospitality company, spanning the lodging sector from luxurious full-service hotels and resorts to extended-stay suites and mid-priced hotels.  For 91 years, Hilton Worldwide has been offering business and leisure travelers the finest in accommodations, service, amenities and value.  The company is dedicated to continuing its tradition of providing exceptional guest experiences across its global brands.  Its brands are comprised of more than 3,600 hotels and 600,000 rooms in 82 countries and include Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Doubletree, Embassy Suites Hotels, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Hotels, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Home2 Suites by Hilton and Hilton Grand Vacations.  The company also manages the world-class guest reward program Hilton HHonors®.  For more information about the company, visit