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Advaya Hospitality CEO: From military leader to successful private sector executive

Dr. Elinor Garely, eTN  Nov 14, 2010

John Russell Leads

An education at West Point (1969) and postings in Germany and Viet Nam prepares you to be a leader; however, it is rare that this leadership capability is transferred to the hospitality industry. It appears that John Russell, the Principal and CEO of the new Advaya Hospitality organization, has successfully transitioned to the private sector and developed a successful career path that spans 35 years.

A Good Offense

In spite of a “challenging” economic climate, Russell is leading his new company into the development and introduction of a concept-based international hotel operation. From the sound of it, Russell is taking industry forecasts of gloom and dismissing the naysayers with a strategic plan that intends to slay the competition. In an economy as changeable as the weather, he and his team of well-educated, experienced, growth-oriented real estate and lodging professionals just announced the launching of a novel life-style hotel brand that will soon appear in gateway cities in the USA, second – tier cities in India, plus key locations in Brazil, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Thailand, China, Singapore and Iceland.

Call Them Russell’s

The Russell name may be familiar. Over his illustrious 35-year career his name has been linked to Sheraton hotels in Lake Tahoe, and Washington, D.C., the former Cendant Corporation Travel Division (now Wyndham Worldwide), Cendants’ Hotel Division (including Days Inn, Ramada, and Howard Johnson), NYLO, Resort Condominiums International (RCI), Colony Hotels and Resorts, Radisson Resorts and Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown and Russell (now Ypartnership), and most recently as chair of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) and president of the Hospitality Sales and marketing Association International (HSMAI).

What is Advaya

Advaya is a Sanskrit term that means unique, different, second to none. The good news is that Advaya (as a name and concept) will be limited to the corporate side of the enterprise, with a yet-to-be disclosed brand (with marketability) to be rolled out in 2011. The new life-style hotels will enable travelers to point to and purposefully select the to-be-launched property because, according to Russell, it will be better and less expensive that the nearest competition (think W and Kimpton).


Russell has joined with Auromatrix Group (India) to launch Advaya Hospitality. “The timing is right.” Russell claims, “The economy is starting to come back and there are many properties and sites…that present outstanding opportunities.” In addition to a large pool of ready capital from his Indian partners, Russell sees this internationally diversified group fueled by global franchise buyers who want to compete in the currently popular, but very expensive, life-style market niche. Heavily loaded with real estate experts, Advaya’s growth will build on team-skills that include acquisitions, development, management and consulting assignments, tethered to tech support. The company’s objective is to open 10 business –class hotels in India over the next two-years beginning in the second quarter of 2011. “Initially the guests will be drawn from domestic markets,” claims Russell, “with increased guest globalization as the brand becomes internationally recognized.”

Dining options will be flexible (from the franchise owners’ perceptive), as there will be options to manage the food and beverage outlets through the hotel operations, or outsourced to restaurateurs. Menu selections will embrace the idea of thinking globally and acting locally, enabling local culinary treats to be included among a list of internationally appreciated selections. Russell is looking for the POP at every property, “People, Ownership and Power.”

They Will Come

When asked the profile of the ideal guest, Russell targets the 22-50 year old who aspires to stay in a life-style hotel, but is locked-out because of the $450-$500 per day room rates. He is certain that his brand will bring in the hotel rooms at the $150-$200 price point, with even lower prices available in the Indian marketplace.

With a focus on the guest, employees will be trained to ask, “What will it take to make your stay with us - perfect.” It is his intention that this query will be asked not only to provide data for the market research department, but will also be a driving force for management, enabling them to deliver what the guest really wants!

Recognizing that his target market is electronically savvy, Wi Fi and other state-of-the-art technology will be available without added fees. There will be one price for the room, and guests will not be bothered with mysterious add-ons.

Waiting: Hotel Design and Brand Name

Russell is building the mystery of Advaya by delaying the introduction of the brand, hotel architecture, room and furniture design until 2011. Continue to follow the story @ – perhaps we will have the news before you find it elsewhere.

Advaya Hospitality CEO: From military leader to successful private sector executive
John Russell, CEO/Principal, Advaya Hospitality

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