Double Shake-Up at Starwood

White Plains, NY -- Amid criticism of his management style, Steven Heyer has resigned from Starwood Hotels as CEO and director, and the company has named Bruce Duncan, the company’s chairman, as interim CEO until a permanent replacement is found. But Heyer wasn’t the only executive to leave Starwood on April 2.

Javier Benito, Starwood’s chief marketing officer who, like Heyer, had at one time worked for Coca-Cola — a master of branding — and was instrumental in building Starwood’s brand identities, resigned yesterday as well.

Heyer’s resignation was the more contentious of the two, as it followed a weekend board meeting that resulted in Heyer agreeing to leave the company prior to the conclusion of his contract, which has a year and a half remaining.

Stephen Quazzo, chairman of the governance and nominating committee of Starwood’s executive board, said in a statement, in part, “While the board appreciates the good work Steve Heyer has done to position Starwood for the future, issues with regard to his management style have led us to lose confidence in his leadership.”

Despite the executive changes, Starwood officials said that, for the most part, it would be business as usual at the company. “Steve Heyer was a hell of a visionary on the branding front, and he put us in a good spot,” said David Scypinski, Starwood’s senior vice president of industry relations.

In fact, Starwood’s vice presidents across its many divisions were assured yesterday that the work done by Heyer (likely referring particularly to the branding platforms he established) would continue to move forward. “During a call to the vice presidents this morning,” Scypinski said yesterday, “Bruce Duncan, the chairman and interim acting CEO, said Wall Street likes what we’re doing and everything that was in the works would continue.”

The shake-up will have no impact on group customers, Scypinski assured.

Benito’s departure was voluntary and had been in the works for some time, making it unrelated to Heyer’s departure, according to several reports.