Banyan Cay Resort & Golf, a Destination by Hyatt hotel, Announces Leadership Team

New West Palm Beach golf and spa resort prepares to open in early 2022 as first Destination by Hyatt hotel in Florida

Banyan Cay Resort & Golf, a Destination by Hyatt hotel in southeast Florida’s West Palm Beach, announces the appointment of five key executives that will lead the 250-acre new-build property toward its planned 2022 opening: David Kohlasch as general manager, Scott Ward as director of sales and marketing, Alicia Lewis as director of golf club operations, Craig Russell as director of finance, and Fabien Biraud as executive chef.

The Destination by Hyatt brand feature distinct properties for passionately independent guests seeking a sense of belonging through connections to unique cultures and places.

Operated by BENCHMARK®, a global hospitality company, Banyan Cay is set to become the first Destination by Hyatt hotel in Florida and the first full-service Hyatt property in Palm Beach County, a world-class destination recognized for its beaches, water activities, shopping, golf, and international polo scene. The footprint of the resort will boast 150 expansive guest rooms and suites and 22 three-bedroom villas, as well as a robust menu of amenities that includes a lush spa, two on-site restaurants, resort-style swimming pools, a poolside tiki bar, six tennis courts, and four pickleball courts. Resort guests will enjoy access to Banyan Cay’s already-open private golf club with 18 holes on what is Jack Nicklaus’ 300th Signature course.

“As Benchmark begins to establish Banyan Cay Resort & Golf as West Palm Beach’s premier hotel destination for golf, spa, and overall access to the best the area has to offer, it’s essential we bring the right people in to lead the effort,” said Rikki Boparai, vice president of operations for Benchmark. “David, Scott, Alicia, Craig, and Fabien are industry leaders in their areas of expertise, and we know they will anchor our growing team at Banyan Cay.”

Kohlasch joins Banyan Cay as general manager of both the resort and golf club. A seasoned hotelier with more than two decades of experience in independent and branded hospitality operations, he arrives at Banyan Cay from Kartrite Resort and Indoor Waterpark in Monticello, New York. There, Kohlasch oversaw the pre-opening and opening phases for the robust development that employed more than 500 individuals and recorded over $40 million in annual revenues. Prior to his tenure at Kartrite, Kohlasch led operations for a collection of Sonesta properties in St. Louis, Atlanta, and Baltimore; a Flik International portfolio of 15 hotels, conference centers, and private clubs across the U.S.; as well as Benchmark’s AAA Four Diamond-rated Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg, VA with nearly 300 guest rooms, a private golf club with 45 holes, multiple food and drink outlets, a full-service spa, and 50,000 square-feet of meeting and event space. Kohlasch holds a Bachelor of Science degree in hotel administration from the University of Nevada in Las Vegas.

Ward returns to Benchmark as Banyan Cay’s director of sales and marketing. Formally the director of sales and marketing at Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort in Curaçao, Ward will build the sales and marketing practice for Banyan Cay, establishing a team to execute revenue-driving strategies pertinent to guest rooms, resort membership sales, golf membership sales, plus corporate groups and social events. Ward’s experience includes exposure in both the independent and branded spaces, such as Westin, Marriott’s Autograph Collection, Vail Resorts, Rock Resorts, and Benchmark resort properties in South Florida. He is a graduate of Elon University in North Carolina and serves on the advisory board for the University of South Florida in Tampa. Ward is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Market Share Success Award from Marriott International and sales-team-of-the-year awards from Vail Resorts, Rock Resorts, and Benchmark.

Lewis takes on oversight of the operations for Banyan Cay’s private golf club. Her background in both public and members-only facilities, including President Country Club in West Palm Beach as well as others associated with Palm Beach Golf Management, expertly positions her to take on the development of what is poised to be one the area’s top courses. Lewis’ professional experience includes a wide range of roles that provide her a 360-degree outlook, such as positions in marketing, membership, management, accounting, and others.

Russell joins Banyan Cay as director of finance after a move from Remington Hotels. A strategic leader with more than 30 years of hospitality experience that spans operations to fiscal oversight, Banyan Cay is Russell’s first role under the Benchmark umbrella. Now spearheading all financial activities for the West Palm Beach resort, Russell will leverage his background that includes roles as complex director of finance for Hilton and Hampton Inn properties in New Jersey; managing director for New York’s Roger Smith Hotel and its real estate affiliates, including residential and commercial properties; corporate controller for the $20 million retail travel management company, TLG Travel Management, among others. Russell holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brandeis University, an Executive Certificate from the General Managers Program at Cornell University, and an Executive Certificate in Hotel Real Estate Investments & Asset Management from Cornell University.

Executive Chef Biraud will spearhead culinary operations for Banyan Cay’s resort and golf club dining, as well as group events. Before arriving in the U.S. more than 20 years ago, the Paris native worked under the tutelage of chefs at Michelin Star restaurants across France and served as the private chef for a French secretary of defense. Since then, Biraud has lead teams at top resorts and hotels across America, including The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch in Colorado; The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay in California; W Hotel Buckhead in Atlanta; Hyatt Regency Atlanta; as well as restaurants like Joel Atlanta and BLT Atlanta. Biraud earned a bachelor’s degree in the Ecole Superieure de Cuisine Francaise program at Ecole Ferrandi in Paris.

As Benchmark builds its onsite executive team, the property’s ownership groups, Banyan Cay Resort & Golf, LLC, and Banyan Cay Investments LLC, also expand their leadership organization. Kim Pillar joins to take on an ownership representative role in which she will work alongside Banyan Cay’s key partners, including Benchmark and Hyatt, to execute the property vision. Pillar’s background in complex business, human resources, and financial services will bring an enhanced perspective to Banyan Cay’s well-rounded teams.

For more information or to book a future stay at Banyan Cay Resort & Golf, please visit

The term “Hyatt” is used in this release for convenience to refer to Hyatt Hotels Corporation and/or one or more of its affiliates.

About Banyan Cay Resort & Golf Poised for an early 2022 opening, Banyan Cay Resort & Golf will become Florida’s first Destination by Hyatt hotel and the first full-service Hyatt-branded property in Palm Beach County. This new-build hotel constructed in partnership with Jacob Companies will boast an upscale West Indies-style imagined by the leading hotel designers at Adache Architects. Banyan Cay will treat guests of their 150 oversized rooms and suites and 22 three-bedroom villas to a robust menu of amenities, including a lush spa inspired by West Indies rituals, two on-site restaurants, a resort-style swimming pool with a poolside tiki bar, six tennis courts, four pickleball courts, and 18 holes of golf on what is Jack Nicklaus’ 300th Signature course. Banyan Cay Resort & Golf is centrally located in vibrant West Palm Beach, providing easy access from South Florida’s three major airports. Its more than 250 acres is set near world-class shopping and dining in Palm Beach, including Worth Avenue, as well as sports venues, water activities, and more.

About BENCHMARK®, a global hospitality company.

BENCHMARK®, a global hospitality company, is a leader in the development, management, and marketing of independent, soft branded, and experiential hard branded resorts, hotels, and conference centers. In addition to the company’s award-winning full service Benchmark Resorts & Hotels, its lifestyle and luxury Gemstone Collection, and its industry-leading Benchmark Conference Centers. BENCHMARK is also an investor in etc.venues, a leading provider of contemporary city centre venues for meetings, signature events, and conferences. Benchmark's combined portfolio features more than 80 unique projects across three continents. The company is passionately committed to delivering personal, inspiring, and memory-making experiences, driving total revenue and profitability, and cultivating an award winning, “Be The Difference” culture for all its employees. Benchmark, is based in The Woodlands (Houston), Texas, with offices in London, England; Miami, Florida; Park City, Utah; Scottsdale, Arizona; New Brunswick, New Jersey; Seattle, Washington; and Tokyo, Japan. To become a fan on Facebook, visit, Follow us on Twitter at, , on Instagram at,, and on Pinterest at At LinkedIn,

About Destination by Hyatt The Destination by Hyatt brand is a diverse collection of independent hotels, resorts and residences that are individual at heart yet connected by a commitment to embody the true spirit of each location. Ranging from upper-upscale to luxury, each property is purposefully crafted to be a place of immersive discoveries, authentic design, and warm and welcoming service. As an honored host, each Destination by Hyatt hotel connects guests to both people and place—offering a sense of belonging that invites all to make our destination yours. For more information, visit Follow Destination by Hyatt on Instagram: @destinationhotels, Twitter: @Destination, and Facebook: Destination by Hyatt.