Sue Brush, long-time leader of Westin Hotels & Resorts and a 30-year veteran of Westin and its parent company Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., announced that she will retire from her remarkable career as of December 31, 2009. As Westin’s Senior Vice President and Global Brand Leader, Brush has been responsible for the standards, marketing and strategic direction of the brand, while also helping to launch a number of groundbreaking industry “firsts,” including the launch of the now iconic Heavenly Bed® and the hotel industry’s most prolific hotel retail program.
Under Brush’s leadership, Westin became recognized as an industry innovator and lifestyle leader focused on guest wellness and renewal. Brush was instrumental in the launch of the game-changing Heavenly Bed and numerous other industry firsts, including Breathe by Westin (the industry’s first smoke-free program,) Heavenly Bath, WestinWORKOUT, SuperFoodsRX breakfast menu, and Heavenly Spa by Westin; as well as a unique partnership with United Airlines to bring Westin’s Heavenly experience to the sky. Brush is also credited with being at the forefront of the hotel retail trend, which began in earnest in 1999 when the hotel giant began selling its Heavenly Beds; and in 2004, Westin became the first hotel chain to sell its signature line of luxury bedding at a leading national retailer when it introduced its Heavenly Collection in Nordstrom stores throughout the United States.
Brush, who during her career visited 300 hotels, 25 countries and 50 hotel openings, was also an active partner to developers and owners, and during her tenure, the Westin brand grew from just over 50 hotels to nearly 170 properties around the world. Westin, considered in the hotel development community as a “category killer” even inspired a brand extension, Element Hotels by Westin, an extended-stay lifestyle brand that drew from Westin’s positioning to help smart, conscious travelers maintain balance away from home. The first Element hotel opened in 2008, and the brand has captured headlines with its eco-chic proposition, sustainable design and LEED-certified mandate for every hotel.
“Sue is an icon in our industry, and deservedly so,” said Frits van Paasschen, President and Chief Executive Officer of Starwood Hotels & Resorts. “It is hard to imagine a more passionate or effective brand ambassador. Sue’s personal touch, open ear and commitment to ensuring, as she would say, ‘that guests leave Westin feeling better than when they arrived’ has helped distinguish Westin from its competitors and made it a top choice for developers, guests and the best and the brightest talent in the hotel industry.”
Brush often drew ideas from her own travel and life experiences. An avid runner and frequent business traveler, she discovered running was an extraordinary way to explore an unfamiliar city. Fittingly, Brush and her team developed runWESTIN: an exclusive program that enables guests to learn about a destination while participating in three-mile morning runs led by a Running Concierge. Additionally, under Brush’s direction, all Westin employees wear “passion” nametags displaying their personal passion next to their name – a move that encourages personalized interaction. Brush has many passions, including fishing and family – both of which she plans to focus on in retirement. She is also known as an enthusiastic listener who frequently gathers ideas from employees and guests. The Heavenly Bath, for example, was born after a Westin associate mailed Brush a photo of a curved shower rod torn from a trade magazine.
“The acquisition of Westin by Starwood in 1995 was the real catalyst that ignited Westin to unprecedented growth and innovation. I was lucky enough to be able to help implement those great ideas,” said Brush. “The corporate and divisional teams inspire me every day and there’s nothing better than visiting our great hotels and watching our associates bring Westin to life for our guests. It’s been a great ride and I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Brush has been recognized by the Advertising Women of New York with a “Changing the Game Award;” been listed among Travel Agent magazine’s “Most Powerful Women in Travel” several times; and named a leading innovator by Lodging Magazine.
“We wish Sue and her family all the very best,” said Phil McAveety, Chief Brand Officer of Starwood Hotels & Resorts. “With Sue’s retirement at year end, we are committed to providing continuity to the Westin brand, and we’re extremely pleased to announce that Nancy London, currently Vice President of Marketing for the Westin Global Brand Team, has been named Westin’s new Vice President and Global Brand Leader.”
London joined Starwood in 2001 and the Westin team in 2004. Her extensive marketing and leadership abilities coupled with her Starwood experience makes her the ideal choice to lead Westin on its evolving journey. Under Brush’s leadership, London directed Westin’s innovative marketing programs and promotions, including the award-winning multi-media “This is How it Should Feel” advertising campaign. She was also instrumental in developing and implementing Westin’s partnerships with United Airlines and Nordstrom stores. Prior to joining Starwood, London held various marketing management positions at International Masters Publishers, Time Inc. and Doubleday Direct.