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Strategic Hotels & Resorts, Inc. Announces President And CEO Laurence Geller To Step Down

CHICAGO, Nov. 2, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Board of Directors of Strategic Hotels & Resorts, Inc. (NYSE: BEE) announced today that Laurence S. Geller is stepping down as President and Chief Executive Officer and member of the Company's Board of Directors, effective immediately.  Raymond L. "Rip" Gellein, Jr., Chairman of the Company's Board of Directors, will assume the additional role of Chief Executive Officer.  Mr. Geller will serve in an advisory role to Mr. Gellein until the end of the year.  In addition, the Company today reaffirmed its full-year guidance. 

"Laurence has led the creation of an outstanding hotel company, replete with some of the world's most enviable hotels and a deep management team of accomplished professionals," said Mr. Gellein.  "He instilled a legacy of ingenuity and disciplined execution that drives both company and hotel performance which will serve Strategic Hotels well into the future.  On behalf of the entire Board of Directors, I thank him for his numerous contributions and wish him all the best in his future endeavors."

Mr. Geller said: "It has been an immense source of pride over the past 15 years to have founded Strategic Hotels and to have worked with a terrific team to build not only the acknowledged best high-end lodging portfolio, but also the most admired asset management organization in the industry.  We have emerged from the recession a strong company with great assets well positioned for sustained growth in a virtually no-supply environment.  And with the recent addition of the iconic JW Marriott Essex House New York, the Company has re-established its East Coast presence.  With all of this in place, and my second novel, ' The Last Resort,' being published this month, now is an excellent time to transition leadership of the Company into Rip's more-than-capable hands and focus on my myriad other activities and the next chapter in my life. I remain a significant shareholder of the Company and hold it in the highest regard," Geller concluded.

Mr. Gellein has been a member of the Company's Board of Directors since August 2009 and has served as its Chairman since August 2010.  A proven leader with deep operational and financial expertise in the public lodging industry, Mr. Gellein is intimately ingrained in both the development and execution of the Company's strategic plan.  Previously, he was President of the Global Development Group for Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide and, before that, was the Director, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc. Gellein also served as Chairman and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Vistana, Inc.  Mr. Gellein's assumption of the CEO role is consistent with the Company's succession plan.

"I am fully confident in both the strategic direction of the Company as well as the strength and professionalism of its leadership team," said Gellein. "This group has decades of industry experience and will ensure the Company seamlessly continues the execution of its strategic plan.  Given our unique physical assets, profitable hotel operations and strong balance sheet, I am looking forward to leading Strategic Hotels as it realizes its future earnings and operating growth potential."

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