Markantonis Calls Atlantis Departure 'Bittersweet'
Photo: George Markantonis (center) accepts Caribbean Hotelier of the Year award from Jeffrey Vasser, (left) former director general & CEO of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association and Peter Yesawich, vice chairman at MMGY Global.
Top Atlantis executive George Markantonis is describing his recent resignation from the firm as “bittersweet,” telling the Bahamas Tribune website last month that he accepted an as-yet unnamed “wonderful opportunity” to leave Nassau’s highest-profile resort.
On Monday Atlantic owner Brookfield Asset Management promoted Paul Burke, Atlantis’ chief operating officer, to president and managing director, replacing Markantonis. Burke, who has been with Atlantis since 2011, and has more than over 30 years as a senior hospitality executive, with an extensive background in operations and management.
Markantonis, who remains Brookfield Hospitality’s president and managing director, said in February he was legally barred from revealing his next position, but that he wanted to move back to the United States for family reasons. “I was not looking, I was very happy here,” Markantonis told the Tribune.
Markantonis was named president and managing director of Atlantis by the resort’s original owner, Kerzner International, in 2005. He soon stewarded the resort through the 2008 economic recession, during which Atlantis reportedly cut staff by 10 percent.
Next Markantonis helped shepherd Kerzner International’s multi-billion dollar debt restructuring, including the 2011 debt-for-equity swap that gave ownership of Atlantis to Brookfield Hospitality. Brookfield later restructured Atlantis’s debt and sold the adjacent boutique luxury resort One & Only Ocean Club sale to Access Industries.
Along the way, Markantonis emerged as one of the Bahamas’ most prominent hoteliers. Last year he was named "Caribbean Hotelier of the Year" by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) and MMGY Global.
As the 34th recipient of the honor, which CHTA officials describe as “the highest professional honor bestowed in hotel and resort operations in the Caribbean” Markantonis was cited for “excellence in all areas of operations, as well as a commitment to the training and development of staff, contributions to the community, and a demonstrated commitment to sound environmental practices.”
The award also acknowledged Markantonis’ “active role in both national and regional issues affecting Caribbean tourism.” He has served as vice chairman of the Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board, directing promotional initiatives in the Bahamas including the “Companion Fly Free” and air fare credit programs. In 2011 he was named the Bamahas’ “Hotelier of the Year.”
A native of Zimbabwe, Markantonis is of Greek heritage and began his 35-year hospitality career in Johannesburg, where he was a front desk agent at the Carlton Hotel, a Westin Hotels and Resorts property.
In March 2004, he was appointed chief executive of Kerzner International’s Atlantis, The Palm resort in Dubai. He joined Atlantis in Nassau one year later.
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