Trio brings broad experience, bright energy to new hotel in the heart of Florida’s Sunshine City.
SPARTANBURG, SOUTH CAROLINA – The soon-to-open AC Hotel by Marriott St. Petersburg Downtown has recruited an executive leadership team that brings broad experience and bright energy to the heart of Florida’s Sunshine City. Ben Walters is general manager of AC Hotel St. Petersburg Downtown and Christine Moore is director of sales. Edelmira Delgado is director of food and beverage with responsibility for the brand’s signature AC Lounge and AC Kitchen as well as Cane & Barrel, the hotel’s rooftop restaurant and bar.
As the hospitality portion of Ascent St. Petersburg – a mixed-use project under development by Greystar Real Estate Partners and Concord Hospitality – the new 8-story, 172-key AC Hotel by Marriott will be managed by OTO Development, which is part of The Johnson Group.
“St. Pete has such a lively and interesting downtown,” says General Manager Ben Walters, noting the AC brand aesthetic complements the destination’s urban spirit and its wealth of cultural, historical and recreational touchpoints. “I’m excited to be part of a property that fits so perfectly with the city’s vibe.”
Walters earned a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management from Indiana University, then garnered a decade of operations experience in roles of increasing responsibility at various Hilton and Hyatt branded properties. He joined OTO Development in May 2021 as general manager of Hampton Inn & Suites Tampa/Ybor City, where stellar guest satisfaction scores prompted his promotion to opening general manager at the new AC Hotel.
“My leadership philosophy is totally hands-on,” says Walters. “Whatever job my team is doing – whether in housekeeping or laundry, at the front desk or in F&B – I believe I need to know how to do, too, so that I can understand what their tasks require, what tools they need in order to be successful.”
Walters also believes work should be fun. “When you enjoy what you do, you work confidently and perform at a high level,” he says, “and that leads to an exemplary guest experience.”
Christine Moore’s introduction to hospitality was a one-person gig at a 12-room boutique hotel on Siesta Key – and she knew she’d found her niche.
“I love working in an industry where every day is different and always so full of surprises,” says Moore, who went on to excel in sales roles at Hyatt, IHG and Hilton properties in Tampa Bay and Sarasota, Florida. She holds hospitality management certificates from the University of South Florida and Florida Atlantic University.
Moore comes to her role as opening director of sales at AC Hotel St. Petersburg Downtown after a successful tenure leading the sales effort at OTO Development’s Hilton Garden Inn St. Pete Beach.
“This new AC Hotel, the AC Lounge and Cane & Barrel – which will be only the second rooftop bar in downtown St. Pete – is exactly what the city is waiting for,” says Moore. “I’m excited to represent this destination hotel in such a rapidly growing downtown.”
Edelmira Delgado has more than 15 years of food and beverage experience, beginning while she was earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration and international business at Youngstown State University. Her resume includes F&B management roles at major hotel brands including Hilton and Hyatt as well as boutique resorts and spas.
“I have always looked for one-of-a-kind opportunities,” says Delgado, “and the AC Hotels brand is truly unique. The attention to detail here is amazing, like nothing I have seen before.”
Delgado will oversee F&B operations across the hotel. The collaborative lobby space includes the brand’s signature AC Kitchen for European-inspired breakfasts and an AC Lounge for craft cocktails, local brews and sharable plates in the evenings. The rooftop features Cane & Barrel, a Cuban-inspired restaurant and bar with both an interior lounge and a spacious terrace overlooking the waters of Tampa Bay.
“Cane & Barrel is bringing the colorful energy of Havana nights to the heart of St. Pete,” says Delgado. “The menu is so fun and flavorful, with an emphasis on all things rum. This rooftop space will be a favorite for locals as well as hotel guests.”
The new AC Hotel by Marriott is slated to open February 2023. With Greystar serving as general contractor as well as developer, project partners include R2L:Architects, architecture; DLR Group, hotel interior design; and Ellis Adams Group, Cane & Barrel concept and interior design.
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