Southern Innkeepers Gain Insights, Inspiration Island Style!

110th Annual Meeting, June 2018, Sea Island, GA

When Southern Innkeepers meet, we always enjoy a few days of camaraderie, gain valuable knowledge from stellar speakers, and enjoy extraordinary hospitality, and the 110th Annual Meeting at Georgia’s beautiful Sea Island resort, hosted by Director of Operations James Gibson, was no exception. Members, including many new faces, enjoyed extraordinary food, magical atmosphere and a plethora of insightful speakers over three days.

Guests gathered in a lounge at the venerable Cloister for cocktails and a look at Sea Island’s new yacht, specially outfitted for exploring the waterways that flank the property. They had an opportunity to get a flavor of the original Cloister during dinner in the Spanish Lounge, a re-creation from the 1928 property with an original ceiling, chandeliers, stained glass windows and fireplace surrounds.

On Monday morning, attendees enjoyed a very diverse program, while spouses and guests learned the art of flower arranging, relaxed or rode horses on the beach, or cruised the river watching for dolphins and other fauna. Arch Stokes of Stokes Wagner ALC, always a favorite at our meeting, opened the educational portion with look sexual harassment cases that have recently dominated headlines. Veronica Andrews, Director of Digital Data Solutions at Smith Travel Research, showed members how to rev up their revenue management using the latest STR data. And Scott Steilen, President and CEO of the Sea Island Company, offered a “State of the Union” talk about the victories and challenges involved in managing a legendary southern icon.

After lunch, Kara Maciel, Founding Partner at Conn Maciel Carey LLP shared insights into how the ADA is affecting everything from pets to websites in the hotel industry. And Dr. Jennifer Hesterman, Colonel, USAF (retired) of Watermark Risk Management International, LLC got everyone’s attention with an insider’s look at soft target hardening and strategies for protecting people from attacks.

Dinner at the ocean front Beach Club capped off an amazing day, with a lovely tent decorated in the flavor of the resort’s hunting club.

Tuesday began with the SIA business meeting, featuring our newest award: each year an outstanding employee at our host property, chosen by his or her colleagues, will receive recognition and a cash bonus as part of our gathering. This year’s award went to Dan Vivirito, a server at the Tavola restaurant in the Cloister. 

Our now-traditional Cracker Barrel session featured topics ranging from GDPR privacy protections now required for those doing business with guests from the European Union to pre-employment drug testing and ever-evolving pet policies in upscale hotels. Recruitment and retention of staff talent was also a hot topic, as was the collection of guest feedback and industry ratings.

AH&LA’s Troy Flanagan, Vice President of Government Affairs and Industry Relations, rounded out the program with a look at areas of legislative focus for AH&LA for the coming months.

Attendees spent Tuesday afternoon at the Georgian Room Cooking School, kayaking, or touring the Cloister’s kitchen and wine cellar. 

And of course our golfers participated in the traditional Cavalier Cup Golf Tournament. Jim Beley, Brent Cross, Joe Longo and Bill Lacey won prizes and bragging rights!

We said farewell with a lavish formal event in the Cloister’s Clubroom, an exquisite space which sparkles with Mercury glass and crystal chandeliers…and even a crystal disco ball! Thank you to our hosts and sponsors for a perfect gathering. If you missed it, please plan to join us next year at Cary, NC’s Umstead Hotel & Spa, June 16-19!

Thank you to our 2018 Sponsors!
Diamond Sponsors

Silver Sponsor

Refreshment Break Sponsors


The Weinstein Effect - text "Stokes6418" to 797979. You will receive a link to materials for your review. 
Arch Stokes, Attorney, Stokes Wagner, ALC

Veronica Andrews, Director, Digital Data Solutions, STR


Dr. Jennifer Hesterman, Colonel, USAF (retired)
Watermark Risk Management International, LLC

AH&LA Update
Troy Flanagan
Vice President, Government Affairs and Industry Relations, AH&LA

Websites and the ADA:  Do Your Inns Have to Be Accessible?
Kara Maciel, Founding Partner, Conn Maciel Carey LLP