Senior Vice President – Hotel Operations
Starwood Hotels and Resorts
Current Board Member of Eric's Club
Lectured March 29, 2001
Bob Cowan established himself in the hospitality industry directly out of high school by working at the Flagship Hotel in Galveston, Texas. He concurrently attended Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management and accepted a job with Marriott Hotels & Resorts upon graduation. In his eight years there, Bob had several promotions and assisted in seven property openings. He was awarded the Resident Manager of the Year award for Marriott Hotels at the Denver Marriott West.
In 1987, Bob joined Interstate Hotel Corporation (IHC) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he spent 11 years handling corporate and multi-unit/multi-brand responsibilities. He joined IHC as regional director of room operations and was promoted to vice president within a year. During his first two years, IHC properties more than doubled through new construction and management contract acquisitions. Bob then returned to the field, serving as general manager at three properties over the next six years: Providence Marriott, Sheraton Colony Square and Orlando Airport Marriott. He was ultimately promoted to regional vice president.
Bob joined Starwood Hotels and Resorts in 1998 as a vice president of operations Northeast and was promoted in 2000 to senior vice president of operations for the Eastern U.S. and Caribbean. He directed corporate oversight of owned and managed East coast properties, including 10 regions and 90 properties ranging in size from 200 to 1,200 rooms.
In 2003, Bob joined the start-up company HEI Hospitality as senior vice president of development/operations. In his short time there, HEI grew from two hotels to 24 hotels in less than two years. He then moved to Omni Hotels, where he was vice president/managing director of The Omni Hotel at CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia. There, he oversaw the operation of a recently expanded convention hotel with 1,067 rooms and 125,000 square feet of meeting space.
Bob then rejoined Starwood Hotels and Resorts as vice president of development–Southeast U.S. and Caribbean and was responsible for all aspects of new properties, franchises and management contracts. He oversaw a team covering Starwood's full-service brands, including Four Points, Sheraton, Westin, Starwood's Luxury Collection, Le Méridien and St. Regis Hotels & Resorts. After his stint in development, Bob wanted to return to operations and, in 2007, accepted the position of regional vice president for Crestline Hotels and Resorts, where he oversaw management of several hotels and brands such as Marriott, Hilton, Crowne Plaza and luxury independent properties.
Bob has now returned home to Houston and rejoined Omni Hotels & Resorts, where he has been promoted to area managing director and general manager.
In his spare time, Bob enjoys playing most any sport and traveling with his wife, Nancy, and his three children, Kim, Luke and Jake.