OUR PROFESSIONAL TEAM
President & Chief Executive Officer
Alex was previously President, business development & finance for Benchmark. During his tenure in business development roles over the last five years, the company added 22 properties to its management portfolio, expanded into the Caribbean and added to its presence in Tokyo. The company also acquired MTM Luxury Lodging, which led to the launch of Personal Luxury Resorts & Hotels.
Alex Cabañas joined Benchmark Hospitality International in January 2006. Prior to joining Benchmark, he worked for The Boston Consulting Group from 2000 through 2005. While with BGC he worked with clients in a number of different industries including: travel and tourism, government, consumer/retail, telecommunications, e-commerce, financial services, and energy. His assignments included a variety of different tasks including: lodging investment proposal, market sizing and segmentation, competitive benchmarking, product development, process management, asset valuation, new business development and growth strategy.
Alex earned his MBA at Harvard Business School and holds a BBA and MS in Finance from Texas A&M University. Alex is married to his perfectly-made-for-him wife, Heather and they have two energetic and out-going boys, Matthew and Eli. Alex enjoys his time with family, traveling and exploring together, any outdoor activity and is very involved in his church.
President & Partner
Jeff has been a leader in the hospitality industry for over 30 years. Regarded as one of the best bottom line operators in the business, Jeff is known for creating unique and tailored points-of-difference at each resort allowing each property to achieve market share advantages.
Jeff served as a Director of TBA Entertainment, Inc. and as President of their Resort Division from 1997 through 1998. The acquisition and development of The Village at Breckenridge Resort was the focus of TBA during this period.
Jeff was located at The Village with partner Mark van Hartesvelt from 1994 through 1998 overseeing the complete financial turnaround of the resort as well as the development and approval of the most complex master plan in the town of Breckenridge’s history.
From 1987 through 1994, Jeff was the Senior Vice President of operations for Guest Quarters Suite Hotels and Doubletree Hotel Corporation. Responsible for 115 hotels, Jeff orchestrated the merging of the two companies and the consolidation of the corporate office. During Jeff’s tenure, the portfolio achieved record improvements in profit and quality scores and positioned itself as a leader in the hospitality industry.
From 1985 through 1987 Jeff held the position of vice president with Radisson Hotels. He was responsible for 25 managed properties and 20 franchised hotels and resorts.
From 1974 until 1985, Jeff served The Sheraton Corporation in various capacities, including Director of Rooms and Reservations for North America and General Manager of Sheraton’s number one occupancy and profit producing property in San Francisco, California.
A Certified Hotel Administrator, Jeff holds a B.S. in Hotel and Restaurant Administration from Oklahoma State University and graduated from the University of Minnesota’s Senior Executive Management program.
Jeff has been a visiting professor and lecturer at the University of Maryland, The university of San Francisco, Golden State University and Oklahoma State University.
Vice President of Asset Management
Erik Johnson is Vice President for Owner Advisory Group (“OAG”) and has over seventeen years of experience with hotels and real estate spanning across the areas of acquisition due diligence, pre-development feasibility, asset management, finance, workouts, valuation, and investment advisory.With broad and diverse hospitality real estate experience, Mr. Johnson has the ability to oversee hotel real estate projects from beginning to end.
Prior to OAG, Mr. Johnson was head of his own hotel asset management and advisory firm.After his experience of working with CNL Hospitality, IHG and Reynolds Hotel Group, Mr. Johnson founded his own firm in 2010 to provide consulting services to hotel investors in all aspects of their business.Over the life of his career, he has been involved in over $7.5 billion of hotel real estate transaction, asset management and advisory type projects of all product types throughout the US for various owners, hotel chains, developers, and lenders.Mr. Johnson is an honors graduate of the University of Florida, where he earned his Bachelors degree in Finance.
VP of Asset Management
Paul D’Andrea is a passionate and driven hotel and resort operator with responsibilities focused on our western state management teams and their properties. Paul is dedicated in assisting his properties maximize revenues and develop teams to achieve the highest financial results possible without compromising guest service. He is a mentor to the General Managers and managers he works with and takes pride in their development successes. Paul also works closely with Owners to ensure our goals are fully in sync and a healthy, collaborative partnership is in place.
Paul has been with Gemstone since 1999 and has served in a variety of roles including resort food and beverage operations and General Manager. Prior to Gemstone, Paul spent twenty years in the U.S. Army and operated hotels and resorts for the Army throughout the world.
Paul is a graduate of the University of Michigan and hold a Masters in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Florida International University, and a Juris Doctor degree from George Mason University Law School. He resides in Tucson, Arizona.
Regional Vice President of Operations
Stephen Cullen serves as regional vice president of operations for Benchmark.
Stephen Cullen previously held the position of area general manager for Benchmark, overseeing the Copley Square Hotel and the Ames Boston Hotel, both located in the historic center of Boston, Massachusetts. He was appointed to this position following serving as general manager of the Copley Square Hotel.
Earlier Stephen Cullen served as director of operations for the Carlton on Madison Hotel located in New York City. He has also held the position of general manager at New York’s Fitzpatrick Manhattan Hotel.
Regional Director Finance Operations
Jenny Na is regional director of finance operations for BENCHMARK.
She was previously director of finance for Park Central Hotel San Francisco, overseeing $100 million in annual hotel revenue operations. She has also held the director of finance position for Starwood Hotels & Resorts properties and the Ritz Carlton Chicago.
Jenny earned her Master of Business Administration degree from Bauer College of Business, and Master of Hospitality Management from Conrad N. Hilton College, University of Houston, where she was a Dean’s Award recipient.
Business Development & Feasibility
Candace Johnson joined Benchmark in February 2019, bringing 20 years of hospitality industry experience to the team. She will focus on Business Development and Feasibility offering expertise in the areas of valuation, asset management, feasibility, market and competitive intelligence, and operational analytics.
Prior to joining Benchmark, Ms. Johnson held several positions with Two Roads Hospitality and Destination Hotels including Vice President Asset Management, Vice President Performance Optimization, and Strategic Planning Director. In her most recent role, Ms. Johnson led Market and Competitive Intelligence, Feasibility, and Strategic Planning for the company. Ms. Johnson’s additional hospitality industry experience includes roles with HVS International, Ernst & Young, and Hirsch Bedner Associates.
A native of Ithaca, New York, Ms. Johnson earned her MMH from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and her BS from Cornell University. She is based in Denver, Colorado.
Vice President, Design and Construction
Gary Harnist, brings three decades of experience in construction and design management to his new position with Benchmark Hospitality. Mr. Harnist was previously Senior Vice President of construction and design for Gatehouse Capital of Dallas, overseeing mixed-use high-rise luxury hospitality, residential, and retail projects. Mr. Harnist was responsible for the overall management of construction and design professionals including selection, contracting, oversight of all outside professionals, project cost analyses and managing all department staff. Mr. Harnist has held several executive management positions with the Chicago-based General Growth Properties and Remington Hotels and has owned his own Construction Management consulting firm. He has been a senior executive in several hospitality and mixed use developments in Hollywood, Boston, New York, Washington DC, Las Vegas, and on the island of Antigua in the Caribbean, with each project’s value ranging from $100 million to $1.5 billion. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Architecture.
Vice President, Operations
Cedric Fasbender serves as Vice President of Operations for Benchmark Hospitality International. He provides operational support for Benchmark hotels, resorts and conference centers around the country.
Cedric was most recently regional vice president for Dolce Hotels and Resorts, where he also served as general manager for The Hayes Mansion, located in San Jose, California. Prior to these dual appointments, Mr. Fasbender held the title of resort manager for the PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
Throughout his career, Mr. Fasbender has served in a variety of senior leadership positions for independent luxury hotels and resorts, including previously for Benchmark Hospitality International. He began his hospitality career working in food and beverage for properties within major hotel brands.
Vice President of Revenue Management
Priya Chandnani serves as Vice President of Revenue Management for BENCHMARK, a Global Hospitality Company. Priya leads the revenue management team at Benchmark and is passionate about profit centric revenue management principles, emerging distribution platforms and talent development. For the past 20 years, Priya has been active in hospitality sales and revenue management for major brands within the industry, most recently serving as vice president of revenue management and distribution for Trump Hotels, where she was responsible for hotel revenue goals and profitability.
Priya is a graduate of New York University, where she earned a master’s degree in Hospitality with a concentration in Revenue Management. Living in Basking Ridge, New Jersey with her husband and two kids, she likes cooking and practicing yoga.
Vice President Information Technology
As Vice President of Information Technology, Mr. Gaeta has overall responsibility for the technology departments and systems for both the home office and all Benchmark properties.
Tony joined Benchmark from the Washington DC area where he ran an independent Technology Solutions Company for the past three years. Prior to having his own business, Tony was the Global Head of IT for Optelecom-NFK. Tony has 25+ years of experience in IT within a broad range of industries, as well as domestic and international experience.