May 10, 2002 – David Yamada, who was elected vice president of the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association in January, is slated to become the organization's president, succeeding Jayne Hillner, who took over the job last December.
Hillner, general manager of Marriott's Frenchman's Reef Beach Resort for the last two years, has been transferred to the Renaissance London Heathrow Hotel at London's Heathrow Airport.
Yamada, 49, is the general manager at the Renaissance Grand Beach Resort on St. Thomas. He said that the association must ratify his appointment. Since he is next in line for the presidency, hotel industry sources say, that should be a simple matter.
Yamada said his main focus will be to implement the hotel association's strategic plan developed some months ago. "We've created a real good dialogue and direction with the Tourism Department," he said, and he sees positive direction for the association.
For one thing, he said, the organization has carried out a hospitality workers' training program. For another, it is about to put into place a signage program to help tourists find their way around St. Thomas.
Hillner had been vice president of the association until December, when longtime president Richard Doumeng stepped down, saying he wanted to devote more time to his family's Bolongo Bay Beach Club and Villas. She was elected to a full two-year term in January, when Yamada was elected vice president.
The Los Angeles-born Yamada, a career hotelier, started out in the industry working as a night audit clerk at Marriott's Los Angeles Airport property. He worked for Marriott, then ITT Sheraton and Interstate Hotel Management before returning to Marriott with his posting to St. Thomas in April 2000. He said he has lived all over the country, including stints in Denver; Houston; Dallas; Fort Lauderdale; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; and Roanoke, Virginia.
Yamada said he enjoys living on St. Thomas with his wife, Connie, and his daughter, Aubrey, 14, a student at Antilles School. "The lifestyle suits me well," he said.
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